The roguish but charming pirate Captain Jack Sparrow joins forces with humble blacksmith Will Turner in order to retake his ship ‘The Black Pearl’ and rescue Will’s love, Elizabeth, after she is kidnapped by the evil Captain Barbossa. What they don’t realise is that a terrible curse hangs over the crew of the ‘Pearl’ and it is only by the moonlight that they can be seen for what they truly are.


Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl (2003) – Director: Gore Verbinski

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl - review

Rating: 12

Running Length: 143 mins

Starring: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush

Genre: Action/Adventure



With ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’, Gore Verbinski has managed to breathe fresh life into the tired ‘pirate’ genre of movies and created a franchise which so far includes 4 successful movies. Following the success of films such as The Mummy, audiences were ready to embrace stories from yesteryear which had been given a modern twist to their tales.

This is a terrific swashbuckling tale of cursed pirates, sword fighting and damsels in distress. Depp, as the eccentric (but smarter than he looks) Jack Sparrow, steals the show and children will love his ability to outwit everyone else and talk his way out of awkward situations. Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley prove to be amusing fodder for the sometimes over done ‘kidnap and rescue’ format. Whilst the film itself contains nothing particularly out of the ordinary in terms of plot, the rollicking gusto in which the gleefully hammy script is delivered by an excellent ensemble cast made ‘Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl’ a surprise runaway hit on release.


When the cursed crew are seen in the moonlight, the special effects used to realise their skeletal appearance could be too scary for younger children. This is most prevalent the first time the full extent of the ‘curse’ is revealed due to quick cutting camera work and ambient scary background scoring. However, it is very likely that after this purposefully scary scene, a child will become accustomed to the effect and subsequent occurrences should not cause additional concern as they are not shown with as much ‘surprise’ value.

In the third act of the movie the ‘Black Pearl’ pirates attack a ship and when climbing aboard, they are seen to slit a man’s throat (there is no blood and the camera cuts away at the appropriate moment). Immediately after, another man is attacked and the angle of the camera means that all that can be seen are legs kicking as he is strangled. These are brief but unpleasant moments for children to see and could be somewhat disturbing for them. Following this, the pirates attack the main crew and, as might be expected of such a fight scene, there are moments of people being killed although they are not graphic.

As this is a ‘pirate’ movie, several adult themes are present throughout, including references to rape (albeit implied through dialogue in a manner that younger children will probably not understand), hanging, prostitution and the general notion that the way to win is through lying, stealing and cheating rather than being honourable and good. However, the ‘good’ characters are good at heart and the evil characters are shown to be evil and they do get their come-uppance. There are also several references to drinking and some of the comedy moments show characters being drunk.



Some of the themes and violence in this movie are likely to be too much for young kids, particularly as they may not understand them properly. The violence, however, is never sustained and is often interspersed with a bit of comedy. We would recommend this movie for children aged 8 and over depending on the sensibilities of the particular child.

  • Violence: 3/5 (several fight scenes where people are killed by ruthless pirates)
  • Emotional Distress: 1/5 (one of the main characters is thought to be dead but is soon revealed to be alive)
  • Fear Factor: 3/5 (the first ‘reveal’ of the ‘Black Pearl’ pirates. Some loveable characters are at risk during fight scenes and it is not always clear who will survive. There are a few moments intended to make the audience ‘jump’ when the cute monkey, owned by Barbossa, suddenly appears and screeches at the camera)
  • Sexual Content: 2/5 (mild references to prostitution, some mild threats to Elizabeth)
  • Bad Language: 1/5
  • Dialogue: 3/5
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of seeing beyond prejudice, not underestimating someone’s abilities and accepting each other’s differences. Other themes include piracy, stealing, lying and hanging but are not explored in further depth.

Words by Laura Record

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