Curse of the Black Pearl

Pirates of the Caribbean 1: Curse of the Black Pearl breakdown

A swordsmith and a friendly pirate chase a pirate ship to rescue a pretty girl and get more than they bargained for when they learn the pirates are cursed.

Many years ago, I did a commentary for this movie.

I’m breaking down movies by their three-act structure. What is three-act structure? I explain it here.

Note: I break the story down into five-minute blocks to make it easier to see the length of each section. Rough time codes follow.


Young Will is rescued at sea. Young Elizabeth hides his gold coin. 5

Act 1

Elizabeth wakes up. Will delivers a fine new sword. 10

Jack Sparrow makes port at Port Royal. 15

Elizabeth falls into the sea. Jack saves her from drowning. 20

Jack is defeated in a duel by Will and sentenced to hang. (introducing a subplot and secondary conflict before the central plot?!) 25

Barbossa’ Black Pearl attacks Port Royal (introducing the villain). 30

Elizabeth is captured for her gold coin (introducing the central conflict). Port Royal is sacked… by undead pirates. 35

Act 2

Elizabeth offers her gold coin. Barbossa keeps her for her blood. 40

Will frees Jack in exchange for help rescuing Elizabeth. 45

Will and Jack steal the Interceptor. 50

Jack and Will make port at Tortuga to find a crew. 55

Midpoint Crisis

Elizabeth learns about the pirates’ curse. (This is several minutes early, and that should have been fixed by cutting a few minutes from the second half, which is a little flabby.) 60

Jack recruits a pirate crew and sets sail for Isla de Muerta. 65

Fearing betrayal, Will knocks Jack out again. 70

Elizabeth’s blood fails to lift the curse. Will rescues her and leaves Jack. 75

Jack tries to barter information for the Black Pearl. 80

The Black Pearl pursues the Interceptor. 85

The Black Pearl destroys the Interceptor. 90

Will negotiates the release of the others for his blood. But Barbarossa maroons Jack and Elizabeth on an island. 95

Act 3

Elizabeth signals Norrington’s Dauntless for rescue. 100

Back on Isla de Muerta, Jack convinces the pirates to take the Dauntless. 105

Barbossa has his undead crew attack the Dauntless. 110

Jack frees Will and fights Barbossa. The pirates take the Dauntless. 115

Elizabeth frees Jack’s crew. They steal the Pearl. 120

Will lifts the curse. Barbossa dies. The pirates surrender. (resolving the central conflict) 125

Will declares his love for Elizabeth and saves Jack from hanging. (resolving the secondary conflict) 130


Jack escapes to the Pearl. Will is released to marry Elizabeth. 135

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *