30 August 2012

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - Do Absurdities Work?

Warning: This post contains major spoilers for the film Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End!

I recently re-watched the 3rd Pirates movie, and I was struck by an absurdity near the end. The rest of the movie is strong storytelling. I like how the writers threw so much at Will and Elizabeth, and had them questioning their love and trust for each other. This made their characters stronger and more realistic.

And I love all the twists and turns in the story. As a voracious reader, who has read thousands of stories, nothing is more boring to me than a plot I've seen again and again with an ending I can see coming a mile away. Even watching it through for a second time, I was surprised by twists I hadn't remembered.

I don't have a problem with the tragic nature of the ending. Things don't always turn out well, and often I prefer stories that don't have a traditional "happy ending." There's something terribly romantic about how they get married, and then he dies, and then he comes back but now he's the captain of the Flying Dutchman in Davy Jones' place.

The part that bothers me is summed up in the following exchange:

'Bootstrap' Bill Turner: This ship, it has a duty. And where we are bound, she cannot come. One day at shore... ten years at sea. It's a heavy price for what's been done. 
Will Turner: Depends on the one day. 

Ten years??!! Seriously? It would have been tragic if it was one year. Ten is completely over the top. In ten years so much could happen. If they happen to conceive a child during that one day, that child will be ten years old before s/he sees his/her father. Will may not age now that he is immortal, but Elizabeth will. And in ten years, she will age a lot. Say she's twenty at the beginning of this--she'd be sixty by the time they have their fourth day together. It's absurd.

But does it work? Writers are often given the advice to throw as much adversity as you can at your characters because that is what shows their character. Is there such a thing as too much? Is ten years apart too much? What do you think?


  1. Now that you mention it, yes, that is quite an absurdity. One I don't think I can overcome. Too bad, because the first movie was so so great.

  2. And if you watch after the credits, she DID concieve a child on that 1 day. Convenient, huh?
    I think the movies worked - at least the trillogy - movie 4 seemed like it was just trying to sneak in there and ride the other 3. Honestly, it's the type of movie I call a "romp" things just grow and grow and grow - you have fun watching the action along the way - the plot is patchy, but usually held together enough - and then boom, over and tied up as quickly as possible.
    There are far too many plot holes in the Pirates movies for me to consider this the only absurdity. I will say that I was happy that their was a solid attempt to bring characters in and make sense of things brought up in previous movies.

    But the movies were fun, and made their money. So I feel it works.

    Of course, a more realistic end would have been Elizabeth coming to the beach, along woth a new husband and a child under the age of 10. Because in that day and age, she probably would not have survived on her own, and would have had to move on. But what kind of ending would that have been?

    1. Very convenient. That makes it even more absurd. If you do a little research, you'll see how difficult it can be for a couple who live together to conceive.

      I do agree that it (mostly) works. I love the movies.

  3. I agree I didn't like that ending at all. It was so unsatisfying.