It feels like we as a society have sort of memory-holed just how popular the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise was during the 2000s. Those movies were pulling in hundreds of millions of dollars each, and there were five of them! That’s so many! My parents owned a copy of “The Game of Life: Pirates of the Caribbean Edition” and none of us had even seen the movie!
I’m not too torn up about the series being forgotten in history, mostly because of star Johnny Depp’s status as the internet darling of domestic abuse apologists. But the movies had some merit to them, even if they weren’t exactly masterpieces. They were big and fun, with “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” shockingly being the movie with the highest budget, uh, ever? They spent a small nation’s GDP on the fourth movie of a franchise based on an amusement park ride.
One of the main things people loved about the franchise was noted bad dude Johnny Depp’s performance as Jack Sparrow, a devilish rogue of a pirate who was always a little drunk. He was definitely the break-out character of the series, appearing most often in advertising and merchandise. This was despite Sparrow’s profession, as pirates have actually been known historically to do some pretty bad stuff. Is the audience meant to root for someone who’s committed such heinous crimes just because he’s charismatic?
Well, a deleted scene in “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” actually attempted to address this. The scene features Jack Sparrow taking a morally redemptive stance against slavery and human trafficking, which doesn’t sound very impressive now that I say it, but I guess he’s a pirate.
People Ain’t Cargo, Mate
Unsurprisingly, executives at Disney weren’t initially fans of Depp’s portrayal of Sparrow as a sort of constantly drunken rogue. It makes sense that Sparrow ended up the film’s breakout character, because film executives have awful instincts. But even being proven wrong, it would make sense that a scene like this deleted scene was added to try to assuage the company’s fears of having a bad role model lead their movie.
The scene features Jack Sparrow being questioned by the movie’s villain, the head of the East India Trading Company, Lord Cutler Beckett. Sparrow and Beckett have always had an implied personal history, but this scene makes what happened between them very clear. Beckett accuses Sparrow of breaking a deal they had in which Sparrow would move cargo for him. He says Sparrow instead liberated the cargo. To which Sparrow replies, “People ain’t cargo, mate.”
Okay, that line’s pretty cool. As I said, a bit of a low bar to clear, but people are looking for more or less any excuse to like Jack Sparrow, so I’ll buy it. The finished movie definitely wouldn’t have hurt for keeping this scene.
But even without this little “well, actually” addendum to Jack Sparrow’s morality, the films and the Sparrow character achieved great popularity. So much so that director Gore Verbinski would have to talk in interviews about how he didn’t believe a “Jack Sparrow movie” could work, comparing it to a dish that’s all garlic. While he was right, with all the goodwill from the bad person community Depp is seeing these days, I wouldn’t be surprised if he got to take another spin as Jack Sparrow in the near future. Unless he’s simply too unrecognizable to do it.
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/Film – ‘Slash Film: The Deleted Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End Scene That Explains Jack Sparrow’s History’
Author: Matt Rainis
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November 25, 2022