The Black Pearl is a legendary ship that appears in Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean film series. Easily recognized by her distinctive jet black hull and sails, the Pearl is first introduced in the film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and has appeared in the following sequels, Dead Man's Chest, At World's End, On Stranger Tides, and Dead Men Tell No Tales. Among other appearances, the Pearl appears in The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios, as well as several books and video games.
In the past, the ship was originally named the Wicked Wench, under the command of Jack Sparrow. However, Jack's employer, Cutler Beckett, later ordered the Wench to be set aflame and sunk. As part of a deal with Davy Jones, the ship was raised from the depths, and Jack was given thirteen years as captain, in exchange for 100 years of service aboard the Flying Dutchman. With the Wench’s new charred look, Jack rechristened her the Black Pearl. Now an infamous pirate vessel, the Black Pearl would embark on many adventures on the high seas.
Design and appearance
The Black Pearl was a three-masted ship, with the appearance of an hybrid between a galleon and an East Indiaman. As the Wicked Wench, she had a golden yellow hull and flew sails of pure white which carried the colors of the East India Trading Company. As a pirate vessel, the Black Pearl’s most obvious and infamous features were her tattered black sails and soot colored hull.
The Black Pearl is moderately armed, as it carried 32 cannons: 18 on the gun deck and 14 on the upper deck. She is said to be "nigh uncatchable", where she either overtakes or flees all other ships, including the Interceptor (regarded as the fastest ship in the Caribbean) and the Flying Dutchman (which is actually faster against the wind). While the Black Pearl did have some amount of supernatural associated with it, being the only ship to outrun the Flying Dutchman, it still could be damaged or sunk.
Also, to allow the ship to maneuver in shallows, Captain Barbossa and his cursed crew implemented an ingenious system of oars, or "sweeps", on one of the lower decks. It allowed a detachment of his pirates to act as a galley crew during one scene of The Curse of the Black Pearl, propelling the Pearl a short distance by rowing.
Another advantage the Black Pearl has is her ability to hide in the sea at night. It was first seen in The Curse of the Black Pearl where she is able to sneak into Port Royal under the cover of darkness, unhindered; and later in Dead Man's Chest where all the ship's lamps are blown out, in which the ship is no longer visible on the sea thanks to her black hull and sails.
Two years after Jack Sparrow's bargain with Davy Jones, the Black Pearl was heading to the mysterious Isla de Muerta where the cursed treasure of Cortés was hidden. By this time, Hector Barbossa was Jack's first mate and Bootstrap Bill Turner was already a member of the crew. Three days into the voyage, captain and crew agreed to equal shares of the treasure, but Barbossa persuaded Jack that equal shares included knowing the treasure's location so Jack gave up the bearings. That night, Barbossa led a mutiny and the crew marooned Jack on an island and left him to die.
The crew found the treasure and spent all 882 pieces of Aztec gold, not believing in the curse placed on it: that anyone who stole the coins would become punished for eternity. The Aztec curse being real, the pirates were unable to feel anything but insatiable hunger, and that only moonlight would reveal their true form: living undead skeletons with tattered flesh and clothing clinging to their bones. Although The Black Pearl herself was not cursed, she appeared to have been affected by the curse; she become constantly shrouded in an eerie fog, and operated with tattered black sails ripped in many places. Over the next ten years, they attempted to reclaim all 882 pieces of Cortés' treasure they had so carelessly frittered away, in order to reverse the effects of the curse.
The Aztec curse could only be lifted when all 882 coins were returned to the chest along with a blood payment from each pirate who stole them. Bootstrap Bill Turner, the only crew member who regretted having a part in the mutiny against Jack Sparrow, sent his piece of the treasure to his only child, Will Turner, believing the crew deserved to remain cursed. Barbossa then, as Pintel put it, "strapped a cannon to Bootstrap's bootstraps" and they last saw Bill sinking to the crushing black oblivion of Davy Jones' Locker. It was only afterwards did the crew learn they also needed Bootstrap's blood to break the curse, and by throwing him overboard they had, in fact, doomed themselves to continued suffering.
As The Curse of the Black Pearl opens, young Will Turner is pulled from the Caribbean Sea drifting amidst the murdered crew and burning wreckage of a British ship attacked by the Black Pearl. After Will was rescued by the HMS Dauntless, Elizabeth Swann, the governor's daughter, takes from the unconscious Will a souvenir a medallion bearing the skull of a pirate's Jolly Roger hoping to save his life, fearing it marked him as a pirate. Moments later, while looking at the medallion, Elizabeth caught a brief glimpse at the Black Pearl with a flag with the same skull as the medallion slipping into the unnatural fog.
Over the next eight years, the Black Pearl menaced the Caribbean as the pirates searched for the coins until all but one was found, while Elizabeth Swann kept the final piece. Eight years later, after Elizabeth falls into the water, the gold medallion she wears as a necklace emits a pulse in the water which called the cursed pirates. Lured by the medallion, the last piece they needed, the cursed crew of the Black Pearl attacks the town of Port Royal. Despite the defenses made by Commodore Norrington and his men at Fort Charles, Elizabeth would be kidnapped by pirates after the former invoked the right of parley. Aboard the Black Pearl, Elizabeth negotiated with Captain Barbossa, persuading the pirates to stop the attack in exchange for the medallion. Thinking Elizabeth had Turner blood, the last blood they needed to lift the curse, Barbossa kept her aboard as captive.
Arriving to Isla de Muerta, Barbossa used Elizabeth's blood to lift the curse, only to learn that she lied about her identity. While Barbossa's crew argued amongst themselves, Elizabeth takes the medallion as she was rescued by Will Turner and escaped to the Interceptor. Shortly afterwards, Barbossa's crew found Jack Sparrow on the island and took him aboard the Black Pearl, where Jack barters with Barbossa. But Barbossa had Jack thrown in the brig as the Pearl was in pursuit of the Interceptor. No match for the Black Pearl, the Interceptor was forced to prepare for battle, where the two ships engaged in combat. By the end of the battle, Barbossa's crew was able to board the Interceptor and successfully took back the medallion. After taking Will Turner as prisoner, the Black Pearl crew marooned their old captain Jack Sparrow and Elizabeth Swann on the same desert island Jack was marooned on.
Returning to Isla de Muerta, Barbossa's crew aimed to lift the curse, while the Black Pearl moored offshore, with Jack's new crew locked in the brig. However, Jack Sparrow intervened, and killed Barbossa moments after the curse was lifted by the actual Turner, William. While the remaining members of Barbossa's crew were captured by the Commodore Norrington and the Dauntless crew, the Black Pearl was gone. During the chaotic battle, Jack's rag-tag crew led by Joshamee Gibbs made off with the Black Pearl.
However, the Black Pearl sailed to Port Royal to help Jack Sparrow, who was sentenced for execution at Port Royal for his crimes against the crown, though with the help of Will Turner he managed to escape. Jack reunites with his crew, and once more took command of his beloved Black Pearl, and set off on a voyage of freedom.
One year later, the Black Pearl is still being captained by Jack Sparrow, although his crew is not content with him; they want to do more "pirating" and are upset about the hurricane they sailed through prior to the events of the film. Later, while in the Black Pearl’s rum locker, Jack was visited by Bootstrap Bill Turner to warn him of his debt with Davy Jones. By this time, thirteen years had passed since Jones had raised Jack's beloved ship from the depths, and now it was time to call in Jack's debt. Bootstrap marks Jack with the Black Spot, saying that his time is up. He also says that Jones' leviathan the Kraken will find Jack, and drag the Black Pearl back to the depths along with him.
With the Kraken in pursuit, Jack was forced to avoid the open water, and has the Black Pearl sailed to the nearest land - a cannibal island. There, the Pearl was careened onto the sand while Jack's crew were captured by the Pelegostos, cannibal natives of the island. While Jack and the surviving crewmen attempted to escape the cannibals, Pintel and Ragetti tried to salvage the Pearl. Though with the help of Will Turner, the crew arrived back at the ship in time. Turner accompanied Jack in visiting the mystic Tia Dalma for advice. Upon learning enough information about Davy Jones (including his heart) and the whereabouts of the key to the Dead Man's Chest, the Black Pearl sets out to find the Flying Dutchman. However, Will gets captured and Davy Jones confronts Jack aboard the Pearl, where they make yet another deal. In the end, the two captains agreed that Jack must find 100 souls in three days, now 99 as Jones kept Will as a "good-faith payment".
To keep his end of the bargain, Jack has the Black Pearl sail to Tortuga, where he and Gibbs recruit enough crewmen to keep Jack's end of the bargain. They eventually leave the pirate port with four recruits along with Elizabeth Swann and the disgraced James Norrington, who last pursued the Pearl in the aforementioned hurricane. With the help of Elizabeth, who Jack convinced that finding the Dead Man's Chest could help save Will, the Black Pearl sailed to Isla Cruces, where the Chest is buried. It was here they reunited with Will Turner, who escaped aboard the Dutchman. By the time they returned aboard the Pearl, Jack believes he has Davy Jones' heart; but in reality, it was taken by James Norrington, who left the crew. But upon returning aboard the Pearl, Jack's crew encountered the Flying Dutchman.
Although the Black Pearl was able to outrun the Dutchman, Davy Jones summoned the Kraken which attacks the Black Pearl. Jack discovered the heart is missing and initially attempted to abandon the Pearl and her crew while racing for land, but found he could not go through with this cowardly plan, and returned to the Pearl. The ship suffered serious damage by the Kraken, and most of the crew was dead. With a heavy heart, Jack ordered the surviving members of his crew to abandon ship. While Will and members of Jack's crew were loading up, Elizabeth kissed Jack to where she chained him to the Pearl’s mast; Will saw only the kissing and misunderstands, thinking that Elizabeth actually loves Jack. After figuring out that the Kraken is after Jack and not the Black Pearl, Elizabeth leaves him behind.
Despite Jack being able to escape, it was in vain as the Kraken appeared on the Black Pearl. Pulling out his sword, Jack charges into the Kraken's mouth. The surviving members of Jack's crew were forced to watch as the Black Pearl was dragged to the depths along with its captain. Seeking refuge at Tia Dalma's shack, the mystic asks the crew if they were willing to go to "ends of the earth and beyond" to get Jack and the Pearl. With all crew members agreeing, including Will and Elizabeth, Tia Dalma showed them their new captain, a resurrected Hector Barbossa.
By this time, Lord Cutler Beckett of the East India Trading Company has the heart of Davy Jones, thereby having gained control of the Flying Dutchman and its malevolent captain. The Dutchman now roams the seven seas, unstoppable, destroying pirate ships without mercy. However, a quest was undertaken to gather the the Brethren Court and, unbeknownst to Jones, saving Jack Sparrow from Davy Jones' Locker. Jack's crew, now led by the newly resurrected Barbossa, acquired navigational charts owned by Sao Feng before journeying to World's End.
Meanwhile, Jack Sparrow was forced to endure a maddening existence while in Davy Jones' Locker, in which the Black Pearl lied on a seemingly endless desert. During one of the pirate's bouts of hallucinations, a bunch of rocks turned into crabs that helped moved the Pearl, with Jack chasing behind. After braving the weird and haunted shores at World's End, the crew was able to find Jack and the Black Pearl in Davy Jones' Locker. Jack immediately resumed his captaincy aboard the Pearl, though found competition in the form of the resurrected Barbossa. The Black Pearl sailed through the seemingly endless doldrums of the Locker and encountering dead people in boats along the way, including Weatherby Swann, who revealed about stabbing Davy Jones' heart would make one captain of the Flying Dutchman.
Later, Jack was able to solve a cryptic clue from the map ("Up is Down") so they can return to the living world. Jack and Barbossa had everyone flip the ship upside down in the water by sunset. The crew tipped the Pearl upside down, allowing them to escape the Locker heralded by a green flash, and the Pearl shoots up into the living world at sunrise.
Once escaping the Locker, the Black Pearl was overtaken by the Empress, Sao Feng's flagship. Will Turner made a deal with Sao Feng, in which Will gets the Black Pearl, which he needs to free his father from Davy Jones. However, upon the arrival of Cutler Beckett's flagship, the HMS Endeavour, Sao Feng betrays Will to the EITC. But when Sao Feng himself was betrayed by Beckett, who didn't want to give up the "only ship that can outrun the Dutchman", Feng and Barbossa allied themselves and the Pearl escapes the Endeavour.
The Black Pearl sails to the fourth meeting of the Brethren Court. In the meeting, the Brethren agreed to go to war, led by the newly-voted Pirate King, Elizabeth Swann. When Beckett's armada appears with the Flying Dutchman, the Black Pearl was chosen as the flagship to lead the attack. After the parley with their opponents, the Brethren prepared for battle. Onboard, Barbossa and the Pearl’s crewmen released Calypso from Tia Dalma's body, showering the deck with millions of crabs. The Pearl and the Dutchman engage in battle in a maelstrom that served as the battlefield between the pirates and Lord Beckett's forces. Barbossa took command as he steered the Pearl into the whirlpool to battle. During the battle, the two ships are evenly matched, and both are damaged by the other's cannons and later boarded. Fighting broke out on the deck of the Pearl, during which Will and Elizabeth were married by Captain Barbossa. Shortly afterwards, the two ships' masts are entangled during the fight. As the ships circle closer to the bottom of the maelstrom, the Dutchman begins to be pulled down upon Davy Jones' death at the hands of Will Turner (who also died). Barbossa orders a chain shot to be fired at the entangled masts, and the Pearl breaks away while the Dutchman sinks. As the Endeavour advances on the Black Pearl, the Flying Dutchman resurfaces with Will Turner at the helm. The Pearl and the Dutchman sail alongside each other and destroys the Endeavour, killing Lord Cutler Beckett, and forcing the rest of Beckett's armada to flee.
While Elizabeth left to spend her one day with Will, the Black Pearl sailed to Tortuga. Jack went into the town, promising Scarlett and Giselle a ride aboard the Black Pearl. However, upon returning to the docks, Jack found the Black Pearl gone stolen yet again by Barbossa, leaving Joshamee Gibbs and a dinghy in its place. As the Black Pearl sailed through the seas, Pintel and Ragetti along with several other crewmen confronted Barbossa on the decision to leaving Jack behind. Barbossa revealed their next quest: to find the Fountain of Youth. But Barbossa only found that Jack cut out the middle of the map. Though Barbossa had the Pearl, Jack sailed in a small vessel to find the Fountain.
Although Joshamee Gibbs was listening for news about the Black Pearl, Jack Sparrow learned of its fate from Hector Barbossa, who now had lost his leg and became a privateer. According to Barbossa, he lost the Pearl as he lost his leg, defending the ship mightily but was sunk nonetheless. However, days after Jack Sparrow was shanghaied aboard Blackbeard's ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge, Angelica showed Jack a cabinet full of ships in bottles, the Black Pearl among them. The Pearl was enclosed in a glass bottle, where it would sail on a shrunken, churning ocean. Only miniaturized versions of Jack the Monkey and Cotton's Parrot could be seen inside of the bottle.
Throughout the quest for the Fountain of Youth, the Black Pearl remained with the other ships in bottles aboard the Queen Anne's Revenge, which soon made anchor on the cove of a mysterious island. When confronting Barbossa on the island, Jack learned the truth. While sailing off the coast of Hispaniola, the Black Pearl suddenly came under attack by Blackbeard, who used his sword to turn the Pearl against Barbossa and his crew. The sword was able to control any ship and its innerworkings, a power Blackbeard used to bring the Pearl’s rigging to life. To escape the entanglements, Barbossa was forced to cut off his own leg to free himself. Barbossa's true agenda for all his actions, including his search for the Fountain, has been a desire for revenge against Blackbeard. Fate was on Barbossa's side, saying "For the Pearl" while fatally wounding Blackbeard.
After Blackbeard's death at the Fountain, Barbossa claimed the Queen Anne's Revenge and its crew, but not knowing of the Pearl’s true fate. Meanwhile, Jack maroons Angelica on an island before reuniting with Joshamee Gibbs, who has used Jack's compass to locate the shrunken Black Pearl aboard the Queen Anne's Revenge. Aside from the Pearl, Gibbs is also shown to be in possession of a gunny sack-full of Blackbeard's shrunken ships in bottles. Jack picks up the Black Pearl in a bottle and holds it eye level, lining the Pearl up with the horizon—inside, Jack's face looms huge and distorted in the sky as Cotton's Parrot squawks. Jack the Monkey appears swinging on a rope, screeches out at Jack, who flinches back. Gibbs then asks Jack if he had any idea of getting the Pearl out; Jack says they will require "a crossbow, an hourglass, three goats, one of [them] must learn to play the trumpet, whilst the other one goes like this" ('This' refers to motions similar to Jack's usual stagger). Hoping to bring the Black Pearl to its original size, the two head off into the sunset, determined to continue living a pirate's life.
Dspite his best efforts, Jack was unable to restore the Black Pearl to its original size, and so kept the bottled ship in his pocket. The Pearl was finally brought back in its true size by Barbossa using the Sword of Triton he had confiscated from Blackbeard.. Barbossa immediately declared himself captain once more, holding Jack and company at gunpoint. The Pearl was used in the battle with the evil undead ghost Armando Salazar and Jack's former crew led by Gibbs spotted it and joined the battle to sail on it once more.
At the end, with Barbossa's sacrifice to defeat Salazar, Jack Sparrow returns to be the captain of the Black Pearl, this time permanently. With his crew loyal once more and reinforced, Jack sails the ship while guided by his compass to his beloved horizon.
Originally named the Wicked Wench, the ship was registered to the East India Trading Company and owned by Cutler Beckett, the EITC Director for West Africa. At the time, Jack Sparrow was in the employ of the EITC and was given captaincy of the Wicked Wench. After Jack refused to transport slaves, Cutler Beckett personally branded Jack with the "P" brand (so he'd be forever branded a pirate) and ordered the Wench to be set aflame and sunk. But Jack called upon Davy Jones, and struck a bargain with him: his soul and one hundred years serving aboard the Flying Dutchman in return for a continued human existence of thirteen years as captain of the Wicked Wench. With that, Jones transformed her into the fastest, most dangerous pirate ship sailing the seven seas. Now a black vessel with an angel figurehead, Jack Sparrow christened his resurrected ship the Black Pearl.
A frigate called the Black Pearl appears in the 2003 Pirates of the Caribbean video game but this ship isn't Jack Sparrow's Black Pearl. This ship was destroyed in 1631 by Nathaniel Hawk and Danielle Greene.
In the Pirates of the Caribbean scenario, players can obtain customisation pieces in order to change their ship's appearance. Two of these sets of pieces are themed after the Black Pearl, the first referring to her normal look ("Black theme") and the other recalling her cursed look ("Cursed theme").
Behind the scenes
- Many Black Pearls were used throughout the Pirates of the Caribbean films.
- In The Curse of the Black Pearl, the Pearl was a set on a barge. Another one was built on the sound-stage set to achieve better control over fog machines. When principal photography commenced on October 9, 2002, the first two weeks of production were spent on stages, including the moody interior of the captain's cabin of the Black Pearl at KABC-TV, an ABC station in Glendale, California.
- For Dead Man's Chest and At World's End, a more sea-worthy Black Pearl was built around the ship Sunset by Rick Heinrichs's production team. Another version of the Pearl, mounted on a gimbal, was built for filming the Maelstrom battle in At World's End. Some scenes were also filmed at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank: the Pearl’s gun and hold decks were filmed at Stage 1, while the captain's cabins of both the Black Pearl and Edinburgh Trader were constructed on Stage 5.
- In On Stranger Tides, a ship-in-a-bottle version of the Black Pearl was meticulously built under the supervision of U.S. property master Kirk Corwin, and was later animated by Charles Gibson's visual effects department for maximum effect. With the Black Pearl being a ship in a bottle, the Sunset was redesigned as the Queen Anne's Revenge for On Stranger Tides.
- The name Wicked Wench most likely came from the pirate ship of the same name found at the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disneyland.
- During At World's End, the Pearl seemed to have many errors during the film. During the previous film, the Captain's quarters rear windows were broken open by the Flying Dutchman, along with the doors. At some shots during At World's End, the rear windows would bear the damage they received from the Dutchman, and sometimes they would be perfectly repaired. It is most likely that the damage was left, due to the deleted scene, Two Captains, One Ship, where Barbossa comments on the damage in the Captain's quarters, which Jack Sparrow replies, "What, this? Tis ventilating. To clear out the stench of the previous occupant."
- Speculation of the Black Pearl being a ship in a bottle arose while filming Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was underway in July 2010. It was made ever since they saw Johnny Depp (Jack Sparrow) holding a bottle on set of On Stranger Tides. This was shown to be true as revealed in the film.
- The Pirates of the Caribbean PocketModel game features four versions of her, three times as the Black Pearl and one time as the Wicked Wench. In all of them she is armed with 40 guns and flies Barbossa's Jolly Roger flag.
- ↑ The Curse of the Black Pearl Audio Commentary with Screenwriters Stuart Beattie, Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio and Jay Wolpert
- ↑ Pirates of the Carribean presskit, accessed Dec 9, 2006
- ↑ IGN: Pirates 2: Welcome Aboard the Black Pearl
- ↑ POTC2 Presskit
- ↑ The Art of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
- ↑ KeepToTheCode - View topic - News POTC 4- DISCUSSION ONLY- SPOILERS! KEEPER
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