Pirates of the Caribbean is the first installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, released as a pirate adventure film, by Walt Disney Pictures on July 9, 2016. The film stars Robert Downey, Jr. (Captain Jack Sparrow), Gary Oldman (Barbossa), Henri Cavill (Will Turner) and Carey Mulligan (Elizabeth Swann). It was directed by Jon Favreau, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and Edgar Wright, and written by Jon Favreau, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Stuart Beattie and Jay Wolpert.
As of March 16 2016, Pirates had grossed at the box office more than $653 million worldwide—the 21st highest grossing movie ever. Pirates of the Caribbean proved to be a success for Walt Disney Pictures and, within weeks of its release, the studio announced that a sequel, Into the Abyss was in development and was released on July 6, 2018. It was soon followed by The Darkest Hour on May 24, 2019. A fourth installment, On Stranger Tides, was released May 2021
The film was also well-received by critics. Robert Downey, Jr. received a Screen Actors Guild Award for his performance as Jack Sparrow as well as being nominated for a Golden Globe. At the Academy Awards, Pirates of the Caribbean was nominated in four different categories. Later on after the release of "Into the Abyss" and "The Darkest Hour", Ralph Fiennes received the Teen Choice Award for Best Villain for his performance as Davy Jones in both those sequels.
Prologue Fog Bound A massive ship emerges from the grey and unnatural fog. The HMS Dauntless, the pride of the British Royal Navy, sailing on a voyage from England to the British settlement of Port Royal. While the Dauntless sailed through the Caribbean Sea, young Elizabeth Swann (Isabella Acress) stands at the bow rail, gazing at the sea while singing a pirate shanty. One of the sailors, Joshamee Gibbs (Hugo Weaving), warned her about "cursed pirates" and, after Lieutenant Norrington (Joseph Fiennes) intervened, stated his superstition about singing about pirates in the unnatural fog. Although Elizabeth expressed her fascination for the subject of piracy, both Norrington and her father, Governor Swann (Timothy Dalton), showed their concern, with Norrington stating that he intended to see all pirates get "a short drop and a sudden stop".
The Dauntless then happened upon the wreck of a merchant vessel, which Gibbs took to be the work of pirates. Prior to this, Elizabeth spotted a lone survivor: young Will Turner (Charlie Rowe), lying unconscious on a piece of driftwood. After being brought aboard the Dauntless, Will roused in time for he and Elizabeth to introduce themselves before he lapsed back into unconsciousness. Elizabeth then noticed a gold medallion about his neck, which, after seeing a skull, gave her the thought that Will was a pirate. Fearing that Norrington would have Will hanged, Elizabeth takes the medallion from Will before he was taken below decks. As Elizabeth stood on the bow of the Dauntless, looking at the medallion, she caught movement out of the corner of her eye. Looking up, she saw a tall ship with black sails moving silently through the thick fog. At the top of the highest mast flew a flag—a flag that had the same skull as on the medallion. As the ship slipped quickly into the fog, Elizabeth widen her gaze upon realizing it was a pirate ship. Fearing the black-and-white flag billowing in the wind, Elizabeth shuts her eyes.
Eight Years Later
We rejoin Elizabeth (Carey Mulligan) eight years later, as she wakes from her dream of that fateful day. She still has the medallion, kept in a hidden compartment in a chest of drawers, and puts it on. Her father, Governor Swann, knocks on the door, startling her. He then enters with a gift for her: a dress from London he hopes Elizabeth will wear to Captain Norrington (Tom Hiddleston)'s promotion ceremony. She agrees to wear it, though finds the corset highly restricting and uncomfortable. The Governor receives a visitor, in the form of Will Turner (Henri Cavill), who has forged a sword for the soon-to-be Commodore. It is clear he has developed romantic feelings for Elizabeth, but they part on less-than friendly terms, owing to her station as the Governor's Daughter and his, a lowly blacksmith's "apprentice".
Meanwhile, a strange figure is approaching Port Royal onboard a sinking dory: Captain Jack Sparrow (Robert Downey, Jr.) is in the market for a new ship, and, after bribing the harbormaster (Alfred Molina), he heads into the docks, high above at Fort Charles, Norrington's promotion ceremony gets underway. Sparrow is accosted by two marines, Mullroy (Nick Frost) and Murtogg (Simon Pegg), but distracts them with mention of the legendary ghost ship, the Black Pearl. Mullroy and Murtogg then argue among themselves on if the Black Pearl was a real ship. After distracting them with that conversation Jack Sparrow attempts to commandeer the ship.
On the battlements of the fort, Commodore Norrington offers Elizabeth a proposition: his new status has made clear to him he has not yet taken a wife, and sees Elizabeth as a "fine woman". Elizabeth faints—though less through shock at James' words, and more because of the tightness of her corset—and plummets into the sea far below. Sparrow, having engaged the marines in idle conversation, dives in and rescues her from the seabed, from where her medallion sends out a mysterious pulse, a signal sent across the waters. Back on the harbor, Jack's interest is piqued by the medallion, but his questions are forestalled by Norrington, who arrives with marines to arrest the pirate, having recognized a brand on his forearm as the mark used by the East India Trading Company to identify pirates. Jack, however, holds Elizabeth hostage long enough to have his effects returned before making his swashbuckling escape into the port.
As he tries to escape, Sparrow meets Will Turner, who is now John Brown's blacksmith apprentice, inside of the blacksmith shop, and a swordfight ensues. Eventually, Sparrow is knocked unconscious by Will's employer (who had slept through the entire swordfight) and arrested by the Royal Navy officers who have just broken into the blacksmith shop.
Raid to Port Royal
That night, Port Royal is besieged by the infamous ghost ship known as the Black Pearl — a black vessel crewed by a vicious, bloodthirsty crew, and captained by a man reputed to be "so evil that Hell itself spat him back out". The mysterious pulse which emanated from Elizabeth's medallion seems to have "called" the Black Pearl somehow. Crew members Raggetti (Thomas Sangster) and Pintel (Timothy Pintel) from the Pearl find Elizabeth (who hides her true identity as the governor's daughter by using Turner as a last name) in possession of the medallion, and take her back to their ship. She invokes the rule of parley ("parlai" in Middle English, "parley" in modern American English—a negotiation or discussion between two parties, particularly in military situations, during which no harm can befall the adversary) in order to be taken to the captain of the Black Pearl, Hector Barbossa (Gary Oldman), to ask that he cease his attack on Port Royal in exchange for the medallion. Barbossa agrees but, employing a loophole in their agreements, abducts Elizabeth. Later, Elizabeth is asked to dine with Barbossa and to wear a red dress. When she refuses, she is told that the captain said she'd say that, in which case she'd be dining with the crew and she'd be naked, Elizabeth decides to wear the dress and dine with the captain much to Pintel's and Ragetti's disappointment. The next day, Will (having seen Elizabeth taken by the Pearl's crew) fails in his passionate efforts to convince Commodore James Norrington and the Royal Navy to pursue the culprits immediately (despite the Commodore's own feelings towards Elizabeth). While the Commodore puts his faith in strategy, Will takes up an offer by Jack Sparrow to rescue Elizabeth in exchange for breaking him out of jail.
Stranded with no apparent way to pursue Barbossa, Jack and Will Turner have no choice but to "borrow" a vessel. So they jump aboard the Interceptor, the Royal Navy's fastest ship, and made way for open water. After assembling a crew to man the Interceptor on the lawless island of Tortuga (Spanish for turtle) consisting of Joshamee Gibbs, Anamaria (Alice Braga), Marty (Warwick Davis) and Cotton (Ian McKellen)), Jack and Will set off to find Barbossa and the Black Pearl, which is heading towards Isla de Muerta — a mysterious island that's supposedly undiscovered, save for "those who already know where it is."
Here, we learn the true story and intentions of Barbossa and his crew. The ship and its crew were once under the command of Jack Sparrow until they mutinied a decade ago, stealing the bearings for Isla de Muerta from him, and then marooning him with a pistol containing only one shot. The island contained a cursed Aztec treasure that the crew of the Black Pearl discovered — but believing the curse to be a myth, they took the Aztec treasure for themselves. Shocked by this action, Will's father, "Bootstrap Bill" Turner, the only pirate who protested against the mutiny, sent one of the cursed gold pieces away to his son in order to ensure a fitting punishment for the crew's betrayal. In retaliation, Barbossa ordered Bootstrap to be tied to a cannonball and thrown overboard. Too late, the crew discovered that the curse was indeed real; in order to break it, they were required to return all the pieces of the treasure to its chest and give a blood sacrifice from everyone who removed them. As part of the curse, the crew's gluttony, greed, and lust for worldly possessions can never be satisfied, and they became undead, forced to never die or rest in their covetousness (moonlight reveals this fact, showing the pirates in its glare to be living, rotting skeletons). After a decade, they have succeeded in fulfilling almost all of the requirements to end the curse — save for obtaining the blood of Bootstrap Bill and the gold piece he stole. With the medallion (in reality, the last piece of the treasure) and Elizabeth "Turner" (who they believe is the child of Bootstrap) in their custody, Barbossa believes he finally has what he needs to lift the curse.
Rescue at Isla de Muerta
In a cave full of treasure on Isla de Muerta, Barbossa, believing Elizabeth is Bootstrap's child, anoints the last coin with her blood and drops it into the chest. When the crew questions if the curse was lifted, Barbossa shoots Pintel, which has no effect on him— the curse remains unbroken. Confused, Barbossa asks Elizabeth if her father was William Turner, to which Elizabeth says no. Barbossa then asks if she knows where his child is that sailed from England, eight years ago, and Elizabeth does not answer. Enraged, Barbossa knocks out Elizabeth. Reaching the island, Will suspects Sparrow may betray him and knocks him out. He rescues Elizabeth, who takes the medallion, and they escape to the Interceptor. The crew of the Black Pearl discover Jack, wandering around, and Jack is then taken to Barbossa, as Jack invoked the right of Parley. Barbossa is shocked by seeing Jack alive and well and orders the crew to kill their old captain. Jack then asked if Elizabeth's blood didn't work, which caused questioning if Jack himself knew whose blood would work.
Destruction of the Interceptor
Back aboard the Interceptor, Elizabeth returned Will's medallion to him, and he realized that it was his blood, not Elizabeth's, the pirates required to lift their curse. Angry and despairing, Will drove Elizabeth away, yet again forestalling the chance of romance between them. At the same time aboard the Black Pearl, Jack barters with Barbossa—he will reveal Bootstrap Bill's child in exchange for the Pearl. Jack's negotiations come to naught when the Pearl pursues the Interceptor. As the Pearl draws near, the crew of the Interceptor prepares for battle. Soon, both ships fired at one another, causing damage to each vessel. It didn't take long for the crew of the Pearl to win, and retrieve the medallion.
The crew of the Interceptor is imprisoned, and Barbossa watches in anticipation as the Interceptor is blown up and sunk. Will then reveals that he is Bootstrap Bill's son and demands that Elizabeth and the crew be freed, and not to be harmed, or he will shoot himself and fall overboard. Barbossa agrees, but applies another loophole: marooning Elizabeth and Jack on an island. Will is then taken to Isla de Muerta, where Barbossa plans to kill him to break the curse.
Battle of Isla de Muerta
Upon arriving at the cursed island, Jack convinces Norrington's forces to lie in ambush for Barbossa's crew while he goes in and convinces them to come out. He convinces Barbossa to delay spilling Will's blood to break the curse until after they have killed the crew of the Royal Navy ship Dauntless and taken the ship. This proves to all be part of Jack's plan; however, he was not expecting the undead crew to walk along the ocean floor to the ship, which allows them to escape the planned ambush. As the Black Pearl crew engages the Royal Navy in hand-to-hand combat aboard the Dauntless, Jack steals one of the cursed coins, unseen by Barbossa, and engages in his own swordfight with his former first mate. Because of the coin he stole, Jack now has a share of the loot, so he too is cursed and thus can't be killed until the curse is lifted. Moreover, in order for the curse to be lifted, his blood must now also be given.
During their fight, he distracts Barbossa long enough until both he and Will can give their blood and return their respective coins (Will has the medallion from the start of the film, Jack the coin he recently stole). Before Will drops the coins into the chest, Jack shoots Barbossa with his pistol, containing the one shot he was given when marooned after Barbossa's mutiny. When Barbossa claims, "Ten years you carry that pistol, and now, you waste your shot." Will claims, "He didn't waste it!" and drops the coins into the chest breaking the curse. After the curse ends and all the Black Pearlcrew becomes mortal again. Barbossa falls to the treasure-covered ground and drops his sour, green apple. Once they realize they're no longer cursed — and no longer immortal — Barbossa's crew surrenders to the Royal Navy.
The Hanging and the Escape
Back at Port Royal, Norrington is forced to hang Jack as per law, but Will, who believes him decent enough a person to not deserve death, rescues Jack. Elizabeth, inspired by Will's sudden defiance, as well as his confession of love towards her, rejects marriage to Norrington and declares her feelings for Will instead. Norrington agrees to release her from her promise and Will is pardoned for his criminal act; meanwhile, Jack escapes and awkwardly falls into the ocean, to be rescued by the crew he assembled to help him earlier and who now man the Black Pearl. As the movie ends, Norrington watches as Jack sets sail for unknown adventure, impressed by the pirate enough to allow him one day's head start before setting out in pursuit.
Meanwhile, Barbossa's pet monkey, Jack, climbs out of the water and onto the Aztec chest, where he takes a piece of the treasure. Jack's skin sloughs off and he looks at the camera for a moment before pouncing forward, the scene disappearing into his mouth.