Fixing Pirates of the Caribbean

As much as I’d like to, I can’t take credit for the nitpicky complaint that follows – it was pointed out to me years ago by an old co-worker of mine named Jory. And now it seems so glaringly obvious … Continued

As much as I’d like to, I can’t take credit for the nitpicky complaint that follows – it was pointed out to me years ago by an old co-worker of mine named Jory. And now it seems so glaringly obvious I can’t believe no one making Pirates of the Caribbean noticed.

Specifically, I’m talking about the climactic duel in the first film between Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). Here’s the setup: Barbossa and Sparrow are both cursed, and neither can be killed or even injured until the Aztec gold is returned to its chest, along with the blood of the person who took it. There are two pieces of gold still missing: one taken by Will Turner’s father (currently turning into a crustacean on the Flying Dutchman, so Orlando Bloom’s blood will do the trick), and one taken by Jack Sparrow right before the swashbuckling broke out.

Let’s see what unfolds, shall we? Video after the jump.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGdBeZI_INY

Okay, here are the important events in what you just watched:

  1. Sparrow cuts his hand to get blood on his coin, and then tosses it to Will.
  2. Sparrow shoots Barbossa.
  3. While Barbossa is trash-talking, Will cuts his own hand and bloodies the second coin.
  4. Will drops both bloody gold pieces into the chest.
  5. Barbossa drops dead.

Okay, are you all seeing the problem here? Barbossa gets shot BEFORE the curse is lifted. Therefore, the shot shouldn’t have counted.

But perhaps damage inflicted during the curse becomes real (and therefore fatal) after the curse is lifted? A nice theory, but it doesn’t explain this:

Earlier in the fight, Sparrow was impaled. But when the curse is lifted, he’s peachy.

So here’s my best attempt at explaining what happens. Zombie pirates have a “healing factor,” a la Wolverine. You stab them or shoot them, and the wounds quickly disappear. However, if the curse is lifted before a wound heals, then the wound “counts.”

Is anyone out there really happy with that? Yeah, me neither. So I decided to solve the problem by re-editing the scene myself. In my version, Sparrow waits until the moment the coins hit the chest, then fires:

Jory, if you’re reading, that was for you. Arrr.

Bonus Nitpicking: When Barbossa falls backwards, an apple dramatically tumbles out of his dead fingers. But when, exactly, did this apple get into his hand? After the curse is broken, he drops his gun, and rips his shirt open with both hands. So presumably, he’d have to grab the fruit with his right hand while he says “I feel… cold.” Which I guess isn’t impossible, but seems unlikely, doesn’t it?

67 Comments on “Fixing Pirates of the Caribbean”

  1. Gab #

    That looked really good- I never would have guessed you edited it yourself.

    To play Devil’s Advocate (interesting how that acronym is D.A., eh?), Will’s hand was over the chest, so perhaps the coins were in close enough proximity to the others to count as “returned” by the Aztec gods.

    Rumors about a fourth installment say it will focus on the two captains.

    Reply

  2. Almighty Tallest #

    That always bothered me, as well. The only explanation that I can come up with is this:

    The shot was fired into Barbarossa while he was in his ‘normal’ appearance, and thus when the curse was lifted, the ball was still in him. Sparrow was stabbed while he was in his zombie form, and the blade was removed while the curse was still in effect.

    As for the blood, and the apple, I have to chalk that up to dramatic effect.

    Reply

  3. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    Is that an Invader Zim reference, Almighty Tallest? Well done.

    Reply

  4. lee OTI Staff #

    Not quite related, and possibly a bit obvious (i.e., not requiring overthinking), but I feel obligated to point out that the apple did bring to mind “Rosebud”:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jipboWI9uiE

    Reply

  5. CppThis #

    Good job with the editing, but IMO it loses dramatic effect. I’d never really thought about it before, but I would credit it to the “healing factor”. We know that the zombie-pirates can bleed and take other injuries, that are not fatal, so something must be at work to repair the damage or they’d simply fall apart after all the stuff they go through. So it really becomes a question of timing and I’d say a few seconds is as valid an estimate as any.

    P.S. IMDB says hello again :)

    Reply

  6. Claire #

    I think I agree with Gab, the gold is returned simultaneously to the gunshot (only both could not be shown at the same time), which explains why Barbossa still dies. As for the apple, definitely dramatic effect, and certainly metaphorical. I guess. Probably. Peut-être…

    Reply

  7. Drowning_Lessons #

    I think you’ve overthought this too much, actually. To me, it was always clear: Jack shot Barbosa when Barbosa was immortal, but the bullet remained inside him. Barbosa healed or whatever, no big deal, but the bullet was STILL THERE.

    Once the curse is lifted, Barbosa is mortal, and he’s got a bullet in him. That’s what kills him. Not the shot–becoming mortal with a hunk of metal in his heart.

    Always made perfect sense to me.

    Reply

  8. Lola #

    I always noticed this problem to. Annoying, isn’t it?
    Another thing that bothered me before the other two movies came out was how, if the pirates were immortal and could walk underwater, they thought they could kill Bootstrap Bill by sinking him.
    hmm.

    Reply

  9. Jonathan Barak #

    The bullet remained in his chest. that’s why it killed him. We see this example earlier in the battle where Will puts a grenade in one of the other Pirates.

    Reply

  10. jake barker #

    drowning lessons pointed out the incredibly obvious.

    Reply

  11. Takeo #

    Wow, you are dumb! first of all, the shot hits him like a second before. The bullet is simultaneous with the dropping! And all that stuff that nobody ever has ever noticed it is wrong cause I noticed it and I am the dumbest person in the world so I know someone else must have. And you obviously no nothing about film/editing because your work doesn’t show Barbosa pulling his gun out, which is the whole effing reason that gunshot is dramatic and there’s not linger at all on Keira Knightly to build tension. Go back to film school or get off the internet.

    (And the apple thing is just to be cool, he is evidently not holding something in his hand, it just for dramatic effect.)

    Reply

  12. dc #

    The bullet is still in his chest thats what killed him not the wound itself.

    Reply

  13. dc #

    The bullet is still in his chest thats what kills him not the wound itself.

    Reply

  14. Heeyo #

    The bullet is lodged in his chest when the curse is lifted.
    Having a bullet in your chest might kill you (though maybe not in the way it does in the movie, but still).

    Reply

  15. hahno #

    U R A fucking n3rd.

    Get over it or stop watching comicbook movies.

    Reply

  16. Neoptolemos #

    Claiming the bullet was still lodged in his chest and that’s what killed him is ludicrous. All the zombie-pirates have likely been shot hundreds of times already, so one bullet really wouldn’t matter. No, it’s a flaw.

    Oh, and it’s not a comicbook movie, it’s based on a rollercoaster ride.

    Reply

  17. YTAH #

    I think the point is that the bullet (unlike the sword) is still presumably lodged in Barbosa’s chest, and that it’s the bullet (rather than the wound) that does him in.

    But it does require rather split-second timing… and where exactly did the bullet get lodged, really, if you think about it? I mean, he’s a skeleton, right. Skeletons don’t exactly have any fleshy bits that can catch bullets, if you get my drift…

    Reply

  18. Brian #

    My guess was always that the swords, while impaling, were removed so there was nothing left to injur once the curse was broken. The shot however, left the bullet inside the body, so once live again, would kill him

    Reply

  19. Bethany #

    I disagree with everyone who’s saying that having the bullet in his body was what killed Barbossa. After it was fired and came to rest (apparently without leaving his body, which is an unlikely thought in itself, although I don’t know what kind of power those old pistols packed), it would not be actively causing any more damage – certainly not the kind that would lead to massive bleeding like you see after Barbossa gets shot. I think I’d have to go with the healing factor idea, which makes me wonder what happened to the guy that got blown up earlier in the scene.

    Reply

  20. Lara #

    I noticed this the first time I saw the movie and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. The zombie healing factor is an interesting arguement. The bullet still being lodged might make sense, but he wouldn’t bleed out like that if that was what was killing him. The fact is it is an editing mistake and those things happen in movies, it’s why I want to get into doing it because you have to have an insane amount of paying attention to details.

    As for getting over it or being a nerd, that’s what the whole damn article is about. Some of us enjoy overthinking it.

    PS. Nice job to the people catching the Citizen Kane-esque reference with the apple rolling. Another thing that drove me crazy, even if it makes for a nice shot.

    Reply

  21. Aaron #

    I’m not a fan of the Pirate movies for this very reason. They’re so muddled in their own history and lore it takes the fun out of watching them. Take the Third Pirate movie, for example. Can anybody honestly explain just what the Hell that movie’s about?!!

    Reply

  22. JD #

    The bullet was still inside him when the curse was lifted and it was that point it started causing damage

    Reply

  23. Paragus #

    Has anyone ever heard of suspension of disbelief? OverThinkingIt.com and other such sites are kinda cool, sure, but can anyone other than me simply enjoy a movie anymore without shining a freakin’ follow-spot on their need to feel superior by nitpicking every blessed thing? Honestly, and please understand that I “get”, accept, and even feel humbled by your intellectual superiority–you win!–now can we all just enjoy movies for what they are, please? Thanks. Now quiet over there, I have these TPS reports to finish…

    Reply

  24. sheely OTI Staff #

    @ Neoptolemos-Oh, and it’s not a comicbook movie, it’s based on a rollercoaster ride.

    WRONG! Pirates of the Caribbean is NOT a rollercoaster ride; it is perhaps the epitome of the Dark Ride, amusements that are constructed for atmosphere and entertainment, rather than fleeting thrills.

    Reply

  25. Kate Ditt #

    You are forgetting that when Elizebeth stabs Barbossa on the ship with the knife, he pulls it out with (fake and waaaay too think looking) blood on it.

    MY reason for this is once Sparrow steps into the light, his skin leaves him, and he becomes decomposed, pulls the sword out, steps back into the light. I think that that caused his skin to heal.

    Like when they put the bomb in the fuse guy and back him into the shadows, he explodes, and doesn’t heal (and yes, he EXPLODED, so that is a little bit different but you catch my drift.)

    Barbossa was in the shadows when he was shot, and when the curse was lifted, so he did not have a chance to heal. And yes, the bullet was still inside his body, and that would start to inflict pain on him as soon as the curse was lifted.

    I admire your “Omigosh they’re wrong!” theory, but in all honesty, they really aren’t.

    Reply

  26. Briana #

    The bullet being lodged in his chest is clearly not the reason he died. If that were the case, then the other pirates who have been shot would have died also. Barbossa shot Pintel earlier in the movie,yet he has remained throughout the franchise. But when you cut back to this scene you will see when Pintel is shot that the bullet hole remains for a few seconds, it does not just disappear. This is what happened to Barbossa. The bullet hole remained open when Will lifted the curse.

    Reply

  27. RocketGirl #

    Okay, here’s the deal…those old-style guns? Not very powerful.

    That bullet is probably STILL IN BARBOSSA after the curse is lifted.

    Modern bullet? Go right through. Pirate gun? Stays in ya for a while. Hell, wasn’t that a plot-point in “Treasure Island”?

    Just sayin’…

    Reply

  28. PetraK. #

    after reading others’ opinions on this, I agree mostly with Kate Ditt *except I see your beef with the apple. It obviously WASN’T in his hand until his death, but that’s what IMDB.com’s goofs section is for.*

    Reply

  29. Nicole #

    I was excited to see someone else take on the inconsistancies in this movie, though mildly disappointed that, in my opinion, you focused on a relatively minor one that is easily cleared up.

    Almight Tallest is entirely correct. Barbossa became mortal with a slug in his chest. Neoptolemos and Briana aren’t paying attention. The other pirates are fine, because each time they become skeletons, any other bullets would drop out.

    My problem is that Jack Sparrow should never have been a skeleton, moonlight or no. It makes no sense for that transition to occur immediately upon theft of the gold. Barbossa’s men were unable to eat or drink after the theft. Their ‘real’ bodies, as seen in moonlight, should have slowly died and rotted, according to the normal timeline of a death from hunger and thirst. Sparrow should have looked right as rain for for first week or so.

    In response to Lola, the bit about Bootstrap Bill bugged the hell out of me too, but one of the few useful things the second movie did was clear that up. While I was sitting around thinking Bill probably could have found a way to escape after years of sitting–presumably bored out of his mind–on the bottom of the ocean, he was trapped (which I assume is what Barbossa & co were aiming for, rather than death), and chose to make a deal with Davy Jones rather than wait out eternity. (However, since Will didn’t know this, he really should have regarded returning the gold as partricide…finally drowning poor old dad.)

    Reply

  30. ChRT #

    I think he had the apple in his pocket, waiting to be mortal so he could eat it (he HAD been waiting and waiting for that apple), and as soon as realized he was mortal, and dying, he instinctively reached for it, but died before he had the chance to bring it to his mouth. Hence why he had it in his hand but we never saw him pick it up: he just plucked it out of his pocket.

    Reply

  31. Crazy Loco #

    What bothered me about the coins is that Elizabeth had stolen the coin from Will years before, and never turned into a skeleton in moonlight. Is the curse only for ugly people? Or Pirates? Why wasn’t Will afflicted as well? He had a coin and lost it. Isn’t that the same as spending it? And why did the commodore look the same age all through the movie while Elizabeth seemed to be on this time continuum?

    Reply

    • Lindsey Norman #

      I think it just applies to the original taker of the coin.

      Reply

  32. fosterco #

    That is a good analysis but I think the point the movie was going for was that the bullet was lodged in Barbosa’s chest somewhere and, upon becoming human again, became a mortal wound.

    Reply

  33. Matt #

    The bullets of old did not pass through the body. Barbossa died because the bullet was still lodged in his heart. When he reanimated, the bullet stopped his heart. The damage didn’t count, but the bullet did. The blood was just for movie spirits.

    Reply

  34. JT #

    What Matt said. And the moonlight only “shows” them for what they really are. Jack being impaled had no less effect than when Elizabeth stabbed Barbossa through the heart earlier in the film.

    Reply

  35. CHWheeler #

    What everyone seems to be forgetting is the moonlight factor. Barbossa still had that bullet lodged in his chest and that’s what killed him. EVERY other pirate was in the moonlight at the time. Any bullets that might have hit them fell out. Remember when Barbossa drinks the wine in the moonlight? Same concept. It’s the same reason the one pirate blows up in the cave. The bomb is still inside him when he’s pushed into the shadows. Ka-boom.

    Reply

  36. Yirmin Snipe #

    Well… yes the lead bullet inside Barbosa’s chest is what killed him… the other pirates didn’t die even though they had been shot numerous times in the past because they had time to pick the bullets out of them or for the bullets to have simply fallen out when they became skelators through out the ages.

    Reply

  37. Stabio #

    There was a second shooter behind the treasure chest on the rocky knoll…

    +1 for CHWheeler moonlight factor

    Reply

  38. Jeff #

    The fact that this is your *only* complaint about Pirates means you’re not watching the films closely enough.

    Reply

  39. Kiefer McNaughty #

    The problem with the Pirates movies isn’t how (in)accurately they stick to their own rules… it’s that there are too many damn rules! Instead of three movie scripts, they wrote three role-playing game manuals.

    Reply

  40. Kyle #

    after being shot before the curse is lifted, wouldn’t the bullet still be in Barbossa? Might that be why he dies? although, looking up at all the other comments I was not the only one to think of this so I don’t know why I am even bothering to post it…

    Reply

  41. Kirsty #

    I think it all depends on the time that they turn into skeletons. If they get a flesh wound, then lose all their skin, when it comes back it’s all better.

    Reply

  42. Jesus L Christ #

    I don’t think anyone has mentioned this yet, but the bullet is still in his chest and that’s why he dies. It’s really not that hard people.

    Reply

  43. lswote #

    The reason this happened is so simple I am surprised no one mentioned it. Some higher up in the movie chain of command said “Hey wouldn’t it be great for Barbosa to make this comment that Jack Sparrow is wasting his shot when he shoots him?”. Someone who actually developed the script is quick to remind him that this wouldn’t be logical in the plot (for all the reasons mentioned above), and he said “No, put it in. Most people won’t even notice”.

    That is unfortunately how a lot of movies get made. People with great scripts being overruled by some higher up who thinks some great line or situation needs to be injected into the film.

    Reply

  44. Andriy Rebkov #

    1) You’ve done a good job with the editing. I’m impressed.

    2) The original scene is far more dramatically satisfying than the ‘fix’ edit. This factor is more important than any continuity errors there may be.

    Reply

  45. Andy #

    I’m glad someone else besides me noticed that. It wouldn’t have taken anything away from the movie to make it correctly the first time. Thanks for making that ending make sense.

    Reply

  46. Matt #

    People –

    I’ll admit I hadn’t thought of the whole “bullet in his chest is what kills him” idea. It’s clever, although I certainly don’t think it’s as obvious as some of you do.

    HOWEVER… in that case, Barbossa shouldn’t have been bleeding out of a hole. So I’m still not convinced this makes sense. (But as Almighty Tallest pointed out in one of the first comments, the blood is probably for dramatic effect.)

    But for the record, I love this movie. I nitpick because I love.

    – Matt

    Reply

  47. Taylor #

    Barbossa died because, even though he was still cursed when he was shot, the bullet was still lodged in his heart after the curse was lifted.

    Reply

  48. Gab #

    Jeez, the anger this is creating in people is mind-boggling.

    To back Matt up in his latest comment here, he’s right: the bullet couldn’t have killed him, even if it was lodged inside him, the way they at least PORTRAY it to. Think about the guy Will puts the grenade in at the beginning: his stomach becomes completely whole around said grenade- there is no wound, they made a point of showing how his flesh was, while dirty, completely intact. So Barbosa’s bleeding could NOT have happened unless 1) he indeed WAS shot after losing his immortality and the filmmakers just did a piss-poor job of getting this across, or 2) the filmmakers decided to ignore the way the curse had worked previously for dramatic effect.

    Reply

  49. LaurynMac #

    The reason all the Black Pearl pirates are zombified is that they have continued to be animate long after they were dead. So they’re, you know, corpses. However, when Jack Sparrow takes a coin then gets killed, he hasn’t been dead for more than a few minutes. When moonlight hits him, it shouldn’t show him as a partially skeletonized monster, it should show him as a fresh-yet-still-animate corpse.

    Does this piss anyone else off?

    Reply

  50. adamaged #

    I realize that this is in many ways a re-iteration of previous points, but…
    He is shot while in the shadows. The bullet creates a wound track through his flesh into his heart. The damage is not fatal because he is all magicaly immortal and such. Since he does not enter the moonlight and step back into the shadows, his body is never reset to the state it was in when he was first cursed.
    Now the curse gets lifted! He is no longer magically immortal and such. Unfortunately, the wound is now fatal, as most shots to the heart tend to be. He dies.
    He drops his apple. We all feel a twinge of pathos for the evil pirate.

    This scene doesn’t deserve nitpicking: while not genius, it’s the best scene in the film, mostly because of the events people are finding fault with.

    And logically explaining that Jack Sparrow shouldn’t look like a zombie yet because it doesn’t make any sense seems to imply an indepth knowledge of cursed gold zombifing mechanics that you really shouldn’t claim unless you are actually a zombie pirate under the influence of cursed gold.

    The defence rests.

    Reply

  51. Jason #

    The solution isn’t of over-thinking, but understanding the order. The cursed get “reset” after exposure to the moon light.

    Yes, Jack gets stabbed, but later I believe twice, gets a zombie night wash which “cures” the poked slash through his chest.

    Barbossa on the other hand, gets shot, bullet stays does no damage, then curse be lifted and suddenly a gapping hole in the chest is a problem.

    Reply

  52. Amy #

    I to0 have had a bone to pick with some of the inaccuracies. One specifically… On the ship, Captain Barbossa reveals to Elizabeth the curse. He steps out from the Captains Quarters and says;

    “…Look! The moonlight shows us for what we really are. We are not among the living, and so we cannot die, but neither are we dead. For too long I’ve been parched with thirst and unable to quench it. Too long I’ve been starving to death and haven’t died. I feel nothing, not the wind on my face nor the spray of the sea, nor the warmth of a woman’s flesh. [walks out into the moonlight and reveals a skeleton] You best start believing in ghost stories Miss Turner . You’re in one! …”

    A very climatic moment, but here comes the irksome part. Flash forward into the movie, Barbossa is making Elizabeth walk the plank… this transpires;

    Barbossa: So I’ll be having that dress back before you go.

    Elizabeth : It goes with your black heart. [throws him the dress]

    Barbossa: [presses it to his face] Ooh, it’s still warm.

    Didn’t he already previously state… HE FEEL’S NOTHING!? If the curse some how allows him to feel warmth from a dress and not from an woman’s body, it truly is curse and a cruel, cruel joke.

    Reply

  53. Gab #

    He’s mocking her. He didn’t actually feel the dress. He’s being a dick.

    Reply

  54. Matt #

    You know, I’ll almost buy the toggling between moonlight/non-moonlight as being a “reset” button for any damage inflicted upon the zombie pirates. I can’t really think of any reason why that couldn’t be true.

    But it seems to take a lot of reading between the lines and assumptions to have Barbossa’s death make any logical sense.

    I still say, if you establish early on that Barbossa cannot be harmed until the curse is lifted, than really, you should try not to have him get fatally wounded until after the curse is lifted. The movie manages to handle this moment artfully enough so that 99.9% of viewers (including me) won’t question what they saw when they first see it. But still, it’s a moment that deserves overthinking.

    Reply

  55. M Kitchen #

    Without a doubt, your cut is better.
    Nice work.

    Reply

  56. Heero yuy #

    WOW you guys really didn’t get it!?
    Its so simple the bullet that Sparrow shot became lodged in Barbossa heart so when he was made mortal again the bullet became fatal seeing as how it was still stuck in his heart.DUH!o.O

    Reply

  57. Darin #

    Sorry to necro the post, but it is after all about immortality and zombies and shit. All those ‘bullet is still in the chest people’ need a clue.

    If the bullet is in the chest to explain his death, why or why is there blood spilling out of his chest? Bullet ‘leftovers’ would stay in the chest, internal bleeding, bad for movies. Enough said, at least think it through, better yet overthink it.

    MB keep up the good work.

    Reply

  58. dimar #

    good point,
    well executed,
    where did that
    frig’n apple come
    from anyway?
    strange….

    Reply

  59. Agent_Irons #

    ‘zombie healing factor’ is the returning to darkness effect. When that happens, the fleshy body ‘reverts to saved’, where saved is when the curse was inflicted. It works like a hologram. Injuries ‘stick’ but only to the not-hologram body, the skeleton.

    Explains everything. Captain Jack is fine because he’s impaled, big deal. When he steps out of the light his flesh ‘reverts to saved’ and he’s fine. Barbarossa is shot -> big hole in his chest that doesn’t kill him. He stays in the light, so no ‘revert to saved’. Curse lifted -> big hole. Hole-> bleeding, bleeding -> death.

    This explanation implies that all the pirates in the moonlight when the curse was lifted die immediately, unless that’s an exception?

    Reply

  60. something #

    You do realize that you can still stab them while the curse is in place. This in effect causes the flesh to be torn of course this won’t bother them because they can’t feel it. Now all vital organs and such are in place but are useless because of their immortality. The shot tore the organs and before Barbossa could repair them with moonlight the curse was lifted. This in effect made him mortal but with ready torn organs and so he drops dead. Use your head before complaining about stuff that makes sense already

    Reply

  61. rachel #

    barbossa has the apple (or some apple) *all* the time with the longing that someday, somehow, he could taste it. so he tries to take it out of his pocket after he opens his chest to see the wound and then tries to eat it real quick-like before dying.

    i think the most ridiculous part of all is that the MB version only has FOUR stars where the original has 5.

    Reply

  62. Lara Burnett #

    I did notice that when I watched the movie! I can’t believe it wasn’t changed, either. Definitely makes more sense your way.

    I loved your “40 inspirational speeches in 2 minutes” video on youtube, that was amazing.

    Hope you get the recognition you deserve for your work!

    Reply

  63. Joseph #

    Well, as we saw from the sequel… he didn’t actually die

    Reply

  64. Edoardo #

    Great topic, I would have wrote it the same, 17 years passed and I still think Barbossa should have got shot after Will tossed the coin in the chest.

    Reply

  65. Lindsey #

    So my boyfriend and I have been talking through multiple issues in the movie and this is one of them. What we’ve come to is that the moonlight somehow heals them. For instance, when Elizabeth stabs Barbossa, he bleeds as if wounded but then he walks into the moonlight and is somehow magically healed. This would be consistent with Jack’s wound and Barbossa’s final blow.

    Reply

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