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||This article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (October 2009)|
|The Black Pearl|
The Black Pearl on location
The Black Pearl, originally Wicked Wench, is a fictional ship in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series. In the screenplay, the Black Pearl is easily recognized by her distinctive black hull and sails. The ship was originally named Wicked Wench before she was ordered burned and sunk by Lord Beckett. It was later raised from the sea floor by Davy Jones after making a pact with Jack Sparrow who rechristened her the Black Pearl. She is said to be "nigh uncatchable". Indeed, in the three films 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). Her speed is derived from the large amount of sails she carries. She is noted in At World's End as being "The only ship that can outrun the Flying Dutchman."
Originally named Wicked Wench (Wicked Wench is the name of the ship from the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disneyland Park, which is shown shelling a fort), the ship was registered to the East India Trading Co. and owned by Cutler Beckett, the EITC Director for West Africa. At the time, Jack Sparrow was in the employ of the East India Trading Co. and was given captaincy of the Wicked Wench (this fits in with reality as history notes that pirates did not build ships specifically to commit piracy. Instead, they either bought or stole small, fast vessels, then retrofitted them with heavy armaments).
Jack Sparrow captained the Wicked Wench for Cutler Beckett for about a year, hauling various cargoes, but he refused to haul slaves. Hoping to recruit Sparrow as one of his many "operatives", Beckett indulged what he regarded as an odd peccadillo of Sparrow's until he and the captain came to a parting of the ways. Beckett had dispatched Sparrow on a mission to find the lost island of Kerma, and the treasure at the heart of its underground labyrinth, but Sparrow double-crossed the EITC official and claimed he couldn't locate the island. Suspicious that Sparrow had indeed found the island, and probably the treasure, but had not given him its accurate location, Beckett, determined to browbeat the captain into obedience, demanded that the young captain transport a cargo of slaves to the New World. Initially Sparrow agreed, but when he realized that he was betraying the Wicked Wench, as well as himself, he rebelled and freed the slaves by taking them to Kerma for safe asylum. Furious that Sparrow had flouted his orders and stolen the "cargo" of "black gold", Cutler Beckett had Sparrow thrown into jail. After allowing him to languish for a couple of months, he had him transported to the Wicked Wench's anchorage, about a mile from the coast of West Africa, near Calabar on the Bight of Benin. After personally branding Sparrow with the "P" brand (so he'd be forever branded a pirate) Cutler Beckett gave the order to loose carcass charges at his own ship, the Wicked Wench, in order to totally demoralize his prisoner. Sparrow fought his way free from his guards, dove overboard and attempted to rescue his burning, foundering ship, but he was too late. The Wicked Wench turned into an inferno, then sank, taking Jack with her. But, while dying, the resourceful Sparrow 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, plus saving the Wicked Wench and transforming her into the fastest, most dangerous pirate ship sailing the seven seas. Jack christened his resurrected Wench, now a black vessel with an angel figurehead, The Black Pearl.
In keeping with their bargain, Jones raised the ship with Jack aboard in the Harbor of Tortuga to find a crew for his ship. Two years after, the Black Pearl was heading to the mysterious Isla de Muerta where the legendary Chest of Cortés was hidden. Captain and crew agreed to equal shares of the treasure, but first mate Hector Barbossa persuaded Jack that equal shares included knowing the treasure's location. Jack complied, and soon after Barbossa led a mutiny and marooned Jack on an island.
The crew found the Aztec gold, which was spent very quickly, not believing in the curse placed on it: that anyone who stole the coins would become an undead being, unable to feel anything but unsoothable hunger, and that only moonlight would reveal their true form. This curse being real, the pirates were soon hideous living skeletons with tattered flesh and clothing clinging to their bones. Even the Black Pearl was affected by the curse upon its crew, becoming constantly shrouded in an eerie mist, with moonlight revealing tattered sails.
The Curse of the Black Pearl
The curse could only be lifted when all eight hundred eighty two coins was returned to the chest along with a trace of blood from each pirate who stole one. William "Bootstrap Bill" Turner Sr., the only crew member who defended Jack during the mutiny, sent a coin to his young son Will Turner, believing the crew deserved to remain cursed. Barbossa, as Pintel put it, "strapped a cannon to old Bootstrap's bootstraps and the last we saw of old Bill Turner, he was sinking to the crushing black oblivion of Davy Jones' locker" in retaliation. He later struck a deal with Davy Jones for one hundred years of service on the Flying Dutchman. Only later did they learn they also needed Bootstrap's blood to break the curse, and by throwing him overboard they had, in fact, doomed themselves to continued damnation. Over the next decade, the Pearl menaced the Caribbean as the pirates searched for the coins until all but one was found. As a boy, Will Turner Jr. brought the gold medallion with him on his journey to the Caribbean, although Elizabeth Swann, the governor's daughter, came into possession of it and kept it hidden for eight years. The Pearl later attacked Port Royal and abducted Elizabeth, believing she was Bootstrap's child—their only remaining source of Turner blood when it was really Will.
The Pearl is eventually commandeered by Sparrow with a new crew. While most of Barbossa's pirates are battling the Royal Navy at the Dauntless the rest of the pirates were fighting Elizabeth, Will, and a cursed Jack Sparrow at Isla de Muerta. After Will puts his blood on the coin, making the crew mortal, Jack shoots Captain Barbossa with his pistol that had one bullet which he carried for ten years. After the battle the crew make off with the Pearl, leaving Jack behind. However, they later rescue him after he escapes execution in Port Royal.
Between the first and second installments
The Black Pearl was pursued by Commodore James Norrington and the Royal Navy. Off of Tripoli, a large hurricane battered the Pearl (though it survived) and the Dauntless, which sank, along with most of its crew. Norrington survived, and later resigned from the Navy. He is later seen as a pirate in Tortuga.
Dead Man's Chest
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. Davy Jones sends Bootstrap Bill Turner to remind Jack that he owes his soul and the Black Pearl to Jones, and his time is now up. Jack is marked with the black spot, which means that the Kraken is now out to pull him and the ship into the Locker.
Jack has the ship sailed to the nearest land - Pelegosto, the cannibal island. Jack and the surviving crew escape the cannibals with Will Turner, and travel to Tia Dalma's shack for advice. When Jack sends Will over to the Flying Dutchman, the Pearl is briefly commandeered by Jones' crew. Jack makes a deal with Jones: 100 souls in three days. The crew (minus Will, who is a good-faith payment) travel to Tortuga to find 99 more souls.
Meanwhile at the Dutchman Will is reunited with his father Bootstrap Bill Turner. Jack meets Elizabeth and Norrington at Tortuga, and travels to Isla Cruces, the island where the Dead Man's Chest is buried. After Jack steals the Heart (which is stolen from him by Norrington) the Black Pearl is attacked by the Kraken and successfully fight it off twice but the ship still retains heavy damage and most of the crew dies in the second round. After figuring out that the Kraken is after Jack and not the Black Pearl, Elizabeth kisses Jack, and (while she's kissing him) chains him to the ship's mast and leaves him behind. He is swallowed whole by the kraken, and the ship is dragged down into Davy Jones' Locker as the surviving crew watches. They go to Tia Dalma's shack again and she asks them if they're willing to go to Davy Jones' Locker to get their captain and ship back. To their response Will, Elizabeth, Gibbs, Marty, Cotton's parrot (who was speaking for him and his master), Pintel and Ragetti all agreed. Then Tia Dalma showed them their new captain, Hector Barbossa.
At World's End
Will, Elizabeth, the surviving Pearl crew and the newly resurrected Barbossa vow to rescue Jack and his ship. After acquiring navigational charts that will lead them to World's End, the crew meets Jack in Davy Jones' Locker, along with the Pearl. Jack uses a clue from the map (Up is Down) to return the Pearl to the Living World. They flip the ship upside down in the water at sunset, and it shoots up into the Living World at sunrise. Returning to the Living World seems to repair the damage done to it by the Kraken as the ship seems undamaged in At World's End.
After the Pearl is resurrected, it is desired by many characters: Jack, as it is his ship; Barbossa, as it was his ship; Pintel, who just wanted to throw his name into the hat (and implied a future mutiny at the end of the film); Feng, who wants a new ship; Will, who desires to free his father from Jones; and Beckett, who wants the only ship that can outrun the Dutchman. The Pearl sails to the fourth meeting of the Brethren Court, and becomes the flagship of the Pirate Armada, led by Pirate King Elizabeth Swann (although she is a woman) and Jack Sparrow, the real captain of the Black Pearl.
The Pearl and the Dutchman engage in a sea battle in a maelstrom during the battle between the pirates and Lord Cutler Beckett's armada. The two ships are evenly matched, and both are damaged by the other's cannons and later boarded. The 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. Barbossa orders a chain shot to be fired at the entangled masts, and the Pearl breaks away while the Dutchman sinks. The Pearl comes out of the maelstrom, still afloat but severely damaged. As the Endeavour advances on the Pearl, it is obvious that the Pearl is no match for it. However, the Dutchman resurfaces with Will Turner in command. After the battle, the Black Pearl and the Flying Dutchman sail alongside each other towards the East India Company Fleet and destroy the Endeavour, killing Lord Cutler Beckett, and forcing the massive armada to flee, as they no longer have somebody to lead them.
Afterward, Jack loses his ship and crew yet again to Barbossa, with the exception of Gibbs who ends up staying behind in Tortuga. Yet the crew seems unsettled about leaving Jack behind.
Between the third and fourth installments
At some point after departure from Tortuga, the Black Pearl was attacked by the Queen Anne's Revenge, a ship captained by the infamous pirate Blackbeard. Using the powers of Tritons Sword (able to control any ship and its innerworkings), Blackbeard brought the rigging of the Black Pearl to life, and used it against Barbossa and his crew. Barbossa's men were defeated, and the Black Pearl captured, shrunk and put in a bottle by Blackbeard. Barbossa was allegedly the only survivor as he was apparently hanging by one leg, being forced to cut it off in order to set himself free.
On Stranger Tides
After Blackbeard's death, Jack regains the Pearl in a bottle, and Gibbs fills the bottles of other fallen ships from Queen Anne's Revenge in a large bag; as the film concludes, Jack states that he is aware of a way of getting the Pearl back to full size, but it 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). Barbossa also claims the Queen Anne's Revenge and its crew after Blackbeard's death.
The Black Pearl is moderately armed. It carries 32 twelve-pound cannons: 18 on the gun deck and 14 on the upper deck. Its full broadside contains 16 cannonballs and weighs 192 lb (87 kg). The Pearl has no Chase guns in her bow or stern. Chase guns (cannons used while being chased or chasing, as one cannot use a regular broadside volley in this situation), which is very unusual for a pirate ship, giving it a grave tactical disadvantage during a chase; the Pearl isn’t able to shoot the ship it chases or to reply to her hunter’s fire. Her high speed only partially negates this handicap. In Dead Man's Chest another advantage the Black Pearl has over her enemies is her ability to hide in the sea at night, since if all the ship's lamps are blown out then the ship is no longer visible on the sea thanks to her black hull and sails. This is also seen in Curse of the Black Pearl where she is able to sneak into Port Royal under the cover of darkness, unhindered.
Also, to allow the ship to maneuver in shallows, Captain Barbossa implemented an ingenious system of oars 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. Finally, like Jack Sparrow himself, the Black Pearl seems to be exceptionally difficult to destroy, having been sunk on two separate occasions, only to appear again somewhere else. She flies a jib, a forestaysail, a foresail, a foretopsail, a foretopgallant sail, a mainsail, a topsail, a topgallant sail, a mizzen lateen sail, a mizzen topsail, a main staysail, and a topmast staysail. It's unknown if she has studdingsails.
In the first movie, the Black Pearl was a steel barge with wooden structures built on top to resemble a real ship. In addition, a soundstage set was used to achieve better control over fog machines. For the second and third movies, a floating sailing ship was actually built in the shipyards at Bayou La Batre in Alabama on the hull of ship HMS Sunset to serve as the set, though it is not an authentic tall ship. Another version, mounted on a gimbal, was built for filming the Maelstrom battle. In 2010, the Sunset, which played the Black Pearl in most of the films, was reconstructed to portray the Queen Anne's Revenge in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
- Pirates of the Caribbean presskit, accessed Dec 9, 2006
- Pirates of the Caribbean page at the-bahama-islands.com, accessed Dec 9, 2006
- Black Pearl at the Pirates of the Caribbean wiki
- In depth article on the Black Pearl from IGN
- Photographs of the Black Pearl at sea in Hawaii
- Photographs of the Black Pearl's current location on the coast of Oahu, Hawaii