Pirates of the Caribbean

When I think about death denial one of the things that come very clearly into my mind are Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Today in our movies it is quite clear that death and dying are both things that can be manipulated to keep the viewer on the edge of suspense. This is clearly represented in each of the Pirates movies.

For instance in the first movie, “The Curse of the Black Pearl” the concept of death being irreversible and the concept of death as something that causes your functioning to cease are both misrepresented by a group of pirates that have stolen cursed Aztec gold. These pirates are punished by being neither living nor dead, and can’t die until their curse is lifted. 

In the second movie “Dead Man’s Chest” we are introduced to Davy Jones whose ominous reoccurring line in these movies is “Do you fear death?” Davy Jones has the ability to prolong a person’s life by giving them a chance to work on his crew in exchange for their souls. He also defies biological reasons for death by cutting out his own heart and placing it inside of a chest.

In the third movie “At World’s End” I believe the most obvious betrayal of an honest depiction of death is shown. The concept of the permanence of death is absolutely trampled upon when not only is Captain Barbosa brought back from the dead, but also Captain Jack Sparrow is brought back from the very odd after life-like holding tank “Davy Jones locker”. This concept of death permanence is further hindered near the end of the movie when Will Turner is killed and brought back to life by stabbing the heart of Davy Jones and prolonging his life.

The entire fourth movie “On Stranger Tides” is about the race to find the mystical fountain of youth in effort to prolong the lives of all parties involved. This clearly shows the defiance of the universality of dying. Also in this move the character Blackbeard is wrestling with his own personal mortality, and is juxtaposed between his fear and defiance of the prophecy that he would be killed by a one legged man

All in all I greatly enjoyed the Pirates movies for what they are, mystical adventure that is fun and funny. However, since I have taken this class I can now see that they can potentially do a great deal of harm to our understanding of death and dying.

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One thought on “Pirates of the Caribbean

  1. I am so happy you wrote about the Pirates of the Caribbean. It is by far one of my favorite series of movies and the fact that today is Pirate Day makes it that much better. You do see a sense of evolving towards the idea of death progressively through out each move. Coming more to a sense of accepting of death by the last one, when Will Turner is killed and essentially left dead as he experiences what would be that of death. Complete exile. Only to associate with those of exile too. But one can also see that death is much easier to accept if the loved ones have the idea that the person is living in a new world, such as we think of Heaven, or in this case Davy Jones’ locker. Exactly how Elizabeth Swan is able to deal with the love of her life’s “death”. Well written piece! Good job!

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