Saving Mr. Banks.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another #moviemonday. Last week I talked about The Devil Wears Prada which you should check out if you haven’t already and today I am going to be discussing Saving Mr. Banks. This movie is one of my favourite movies and when you watch as many movies as I do and when you study so many movies in great detail the way I do, picking a favourite is hard because you love so many but Saving Mr. Banks is without a doubt on my list so let’s dive into Movie Monday.

Plot.

Saving Mr. Banks was directed by John Lee Hancock. The movie was released in 2013 and the plot revolves around the development of the 1964 movie Mary Poppins. Emma Thompson stars as P.L Travers, the very particular and proper author of the magical Mary Poppins. Tom Hanks plays the one and only Walt Disney and throughout this movie audiences watch him struggle to get the rights to get his movie made and accompanied by flashbacks to her childhood, we learn why Mary Poppins is so important to P.L Travers and why she struggles so much to let her go.

If you are a fan of watching behind-the-scenes specials then this movie will be your cup of tea because we get to see how the classic songs we all know and love such as Let’s Go Fly A Kite and the very poignant Feed The Birds were written and developed by the talented Sherman Brothers, along with many more scenes about how Walt Disney planned to take Mary Poppins from the pages of the book to the cinema screen all under the very strict eye of P.L Travers.

Characters.

The movie’s main protagonist is P.L Travers. She is a very proper and rather serious woman who struggles to understand the magic of Disney. She is very protective over her character of Mary Poppins and she clings to the rights for dear life as she watches over the movie proceedings with very strict eyes. She seems impossible to please. She does not want singing, she does not want dancing, she especially does not want animation and if Walt wants the rights then he had better make her happy. Thompson plays Travers with wonderful levels of nuance. It would be so easy to simply write Travers off as a mean old lady but instead, Thompson gives us a woman who is lonely, a woman who is still grieving, a woman who had quite a difficult childhood, and most importantly, a woman who created Mary Poppins because when she was a child she needed her own Mary Poppins and now she is an adult and really the only thing that she is asking is that the story gets told properly. Her connection to Mary Poppins but more specifically to Mr. Banks is crucial to this plot and it is very moving and in my opinion, it will make you watch Mary Poppins in a new light however I will discuss this more when I am discussing the movie’s themes.

The movie shows us flashbacks of the childhood of P.L Travers, there we see her as a young girl. She was called Ginty by her family. Ginty is an imaginative child who adores her father. It seems almost impossible that this creative and wonder driven child would grow up to become so serious but as this movie plays out, we see that her childhood was not so idyllic.

Travers Robert Goff is Ginty’s father. He is a doting father, he is imaginative. He encourages Ginty to dream and play and use her imagination but his struggles with alcoholism cause him to repeatedly lose jobs, which puts financial strain on his family and mental strain on his worried and overwhelmed wife, Ginty’s mother. Despite Ginty’s rose-tinted view of her father, he is an ill man and her world crashes down when he becomes fatally ill when she is only a young girl. His illness caused the arrival of Ginty’s put together and rather stern aunt and it becomes clear that this aunt is the inspiration behind Mary Poppins.

Her relationship with her father is why Travers struggles so much to let Walt Disney have the rights to Mary Poppins because she is afraid of how Mr. Banks will be portrayed. She insists he is not cold or cruel and he does love his children but he’s just struggling and it soon becomes clear that Mr. Banks is not some fictional father she created, but her father – and I will elaborate on this point in the themes section of this discussion.

Tom Hanks plays a charming Walt Disney and despite his frustrations with her, he always treats Travers with respect. He wants to make a magical movie. He promised his daughter he would, because she loves the book Mary Poppins. He wants to create magic that children can share with their parents and he is an imaginative man, he sees the wonder that Mary Poppins can be, he wants her to be a beloved character and he believes she will be, but he can’t do it without the rights so while Travers is in Los Angeles, he is determined to win her over. As the movie goes on, Walt begins to see that this story is deeply personal to Travers and he understands this, he shares his own experience with her in a wonderfully delivered monologue about Mickey Mouse. The two weeks Travers spends in Los Angeles with Walt Disney allow her to remember the imaginative little girl she used to be and both Thompson and Hanks play their parts extremely well.

At Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, Travers meets an ensemble of new characters, the creative team – Don DaGradi the screenwriter and Richard and Robert Sherman the music composers and her driver – Ralph who she develops a sweet friendship with during her two weeks.

The team are surprised by Travers’ lack of enthusiasm about the movie, and they do not know that Disney does not yet have the rights, but over time they understand how personal this is to Travers and they strive to make the movie something she will be happy with. I love this ensemble because it is so much fun seeing the songs being written and developed and the frustration behind the creative process but I also love this ensemble because it is clear that these characters love what they do and they are at their best when they are in the studio creating.

Themes.

This movie is an incredibly poignant movie and the themes it presents are very emotional and at times I do believe that people will be moved to tears.

The relationship between children and their fathers is a very obvious theme but I would argue it is the most crucial one because the relationship that Travers had with her father is the key to understanding Mary Poppins. Young Ginty idolised her father and it is heartbreaking when you see the look of devastation on that child’s face when she learns that he is drunk and he is ill. This fun, creative, imaginative man, her hero is ill and she knows she will lose him and this loss impacts her greatly. As an adult, Travers reflects on her childhood and of course as an adult, she understands her father more. He loved her but he couldn’t help himself. He was gripped too tightly by his struggles with alcoholism and then he got sick but as an adult, Travers understands that it was not his fault.

The character of Mr. Banks is so important. We know from the movie Mary Poppins that he is quite an absent father. He is always working very hard in order to provide for his family, and while he does love his family, he does not always make time for his children and he does not listen to them. He has become so wrapped up in his world of work that he does not understand the simple wonders of childhood, such as flying a kite which is why he cannot understand his children’s disappointment when he tells them he does not have time to mend the kite. The children of course don’t just want the kite, they want to spend time with him because children love their parents despite their flaws and very often, we don’t understand the flaws of our parents until we grow up and realise that our parents are also real people too and not just ‘mam and dad’.

Mr. Banks is not just a father. Travers is writing about her own father and that is why she is so emotionally attached to him. She does not want him to be portrayed as cruel and cold because he wasn’t. He just had some worries of his own. The key thing Travers wants is for the story to be told correctly. Mary Poppins is not there to save the children, she is there to save Mr. Banks. It is an incredibly moving scene when it finally clicks and Walt realises that Mr. Banks is her father and so then the story finally makes sense. The fictional Mary Poppins does what the inspiration behind her could not – save the father before it’s too late and so, the ending is changed. Mr. Banks wakes up and finally realises that his children will be grown before he knows it. He does not want to wish their childhood away so he fixes the kite and the movie ends with him and his wife skipping off with their children to go fly a kite, and the children are delighted to be spending time with their parents. The change makes Travers weep and again, Thompson gives a wonderful performance when she learns that Mr. Banks will fix the kite, that he will be redeemed, that her own father will be redeemed and in the movie anyways (because I’ll admit, I suspect some historical accuracy was overlooked for cinematic purposes) this is what finally convinces her to trust Disney with the rights to Mary Poppins because he and the creative team finally understand that it is not the children who are saved, but their father and she will sign over the rights because the story is finally being told properly.

There are other themes that run through this movie, imagination versus logic – which of course runs through Mary Poppins too. Both films deal with the idea that although logic is of course important, it is also important to acknowledge the importance of one’s imagination and creativity. Without imagination, without creativity and wonder, something is lacking and we must always leave a little room for the impossible.

Ownership is another theme running through this movie. Both Travers and Walt Disney feel a sense of ownership over Mary Poppins. Travers because of how personal it is to her and also because it is her book, she wrote it, she created these characters so her ownership is much more valid than Disney’s however Disney feels that he can tell this story, he wants to create something magical, not just for his own child but for all children and for their parents. He believes this is a story worth telling and he believes it will be a classic and he too understands turbulent relationships with parents so he sees some of his own father in Mr. Banks and I feel that many people will too. Mr. Banks is not just Travers’ father, he becomes everyone’s father because in him, we see the flaws of our own fathers but ultimately we love them and they love us and that is why this movie is so poignant.

Although it is covered in the flashbacks, alcoholism is touched upon in this movie, we see how much Ginty’s father relies upon drinking in order to get through his days, and we see him lose jobs and become argumentative and we see him spiral to his lowest. It is a tough watch because when watching, you just know that this can only end badly.

Structure.

The movie jumps between the past and the present very fluidly. As certain things happen in the development room, we see the past because the current happenings are triggering memories for Travers and we get brought back to her childhood. We see crucial moments of her childhood and you can begin to piece together how those fundamental moments shaped the idea behind Mary Poppins. Something that I really enjoyed is the colours that this movie chose to use. Walt Disney Studios looks practically perfect. It is bright, it is airy, it is cheerful. It seems like a place where it is impossible to be unhappy but Travers somehow manages it. The flashbacks to her childhood get progressively more dull. At first when she is remembering her father and the games they played, it is bright and idyllic looking but as time goes on and he can no longer hide his alcoholism from his daughter, the picture seems duller, as though that rose-tinted view is becoming dusty. It’s very subtle but very powerful. The music breaks up the poignant atmosphere and within this very moving movie, there are moments of pure joy. The scenes in the studio are so much fun and despite the creative differences and the tensions, the creative scenes are always bursting with life and ideas and songs and it is great fun to watch talented people do what they do best and love what they are doing.

Final Thoughts.

I could talk about this movie all day. It is one of my favourites and although it is very emotional and very moving and not exactly the happiest of movies, it will always be one that I say is a must see movie. I believe that everyone should watch this movie at least once. The actors did a wonderful job. The story is compelling. The music is so wonderful and it provides that perfect touch of nostalgia. This is a movie that will make you laugh and make you cry and you will walk away feeling moved and I do believe that after seeing Saving Mr. Banks, you will always see Mary Poppins differently too but in a good way as I feel the movie has become more layered and more meaningful.

Have you seen Saving Mr. Banks? If so, let me know what you think of this movie. I love reading your comments.

This has been Movie Monday. I hope you enjoyed it.

Kate xo.

The Dig.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another Movie Monday.

Today I am going to be talking about the movie The Dig. The movie has been available for streaming on Netflix since January 2021. It was directed by Simon Stone and it is based on the 2007 book The Dig, written by John Preston.

Plot.

The movie tells the tale of the excavation of Sutton Hoo in 1939. Edith Pretty hires Basil Brown to take care of the burial mounds in the grounds of her rural estate. Brown is local and self-taught and because he left school at a young age, he is dismissed when he says the mounds could be Anglo-Saxon.

As Brown works, he bonds with Edith and her son and begins to ignore letters from his wife. One day he uncovers iron rivets from a ship, suggesting that the burial sight is of someone of great importance such as a King. The news spreads fast and when Charles Phillips, an archaeologist from Cambridge arrives, he declares the site one of National importance and he takes over the dig.

Characters & Structure.

When I was watching this movie, I felt as though the introduction of different characters and the way the movie is structured went hand in hand so that is why I am going to talk about the characters and the structure together in the same section.

I would describe the structure as a structure of two phases. Phase one being the discovery and phase two being the descent. Let me explain.

The initial phase of the dig is very exciting. It is filled with discovery and anticipation, dreams and passion. Basil Brown is a humble man. He is working-class. He does not have a formal education, he learned everything he knows from his father, who learned from his father before him and I think that he has an underdog quality that is really easy to root for. It is frustrating when he is scoffed at or dismissed simply because he lacks a formal education. He has hands on experience. He is doing the work. He believed in this dig when no one else did and the dynamic he has with Edith is lovely to watch.

Edith is a character that I really rooted for because in my opinion her story is a sad one of squashed potential and bad timing. Edith has always been interested in archaeology and she even got accepted into university but instead she had to take care of her sick father. She lived her whole life putting her passions on hold, now she is widowed, and not well herself but she has got a feeling about those burial mounds. She believes there is something down there, she has a gut feeling and after all this time I wanted her to be right. I was hopeful for her because she deserves to have this moment after waiting a lifetime for it.

The second phase of the movie, which I have called the descent, is when the rest of the characters arrive, descending on the dig, and all wanting a piece of the action and more importantly, the credit.

Charles Phillips is a famous archaeologist from Cambridge and he quickly declares the site to be too important to be handled by the self-taught Brown, and he takes over the dig with his own team, who brings with them problems of their own.

His team consists of Stuart and his wife Peggy, she is a budding archaeologist who feels emotionally detached from her husband. When they arrive, Peggy meets Edith’s cousin Rory who is taking photographs of the dig. He is kind, gentle and charming and he makes her feel things she has never felt in her marriage.

While the arrival of these new characters does detract from Basil and Edith, who I did miss when they were off-screen, I did feel that the choice to introduce these new characters midway through was a clever one because it allows audiences to almost experience things exactly how Basil and Edith did. Here they are, working, digging, sharing passions and believing in this dig while all of the ‘experts’ laughed at them, and now suddenly all of these experts are arriving, and taking over and they feel they are more important and they have more knowledge and their problems are more important so even though the romantic subplot between Peggy and Rory does lack substance compared to the dynamic that was building between Basil and Edith, it does make sense that the movie would focus on them for a while because this new team has descended on the dig and they all believe they are the most important players in the game and as a viewer and as a fan of movies, I liked this a lot because I felt that this structure matched the events that were being portrayed. The dig was taken over by this new team halfway through, as was the plot and I thought that was cleverly structured.

Themes.

There are many themes explored in this movie. Passion, discovery, class differences, love, loss, and of course the past haunting the present.

The dig itself is the heart of the plot. The dig is what is most important, the dig is what is fuelling all of the other ideas that are explored. Simon Stone is a detail orientated director in this movie. The movie does explain how a dig must proceed, how dangerous a dig can be, how exciting, and it does so in a way that is easy to understand so even though I have never studied archaeology, I felt I understood the process and I enjoyed watching it play out. Another thing to remember is as this dig is happening, war is approaching. The movie signals this by having RAF planes fly overhead more and more frequently as time passes and this creates a real sense of urgency because if war breaks out, the dig must cease, ceasing with it all the discoveries that will be found deep down in the earth.

This dig is physical and it is metaphorical as while the characters are physically digging into the ground, they are also digging into the past and digging into themselves, learning about who and what came before them, and learning about themselves too. There is a sense of community despite the class differences, and despite the other issues that are happening, everyone wants to dig, everyone wants to discover what is down in the earth because doing so will open up a new world of knowledge and understanding about the past.

Final Thoughts.

Overall I really enjoyed watching The Dig. Although some historical accuracy was left out, and some details were added for a more cinematic script (which happens in movies very often), as someone who has always enjoyed history, I really did enjoy this movie. I like any stories that involve looking back at the past and discovering something and this dig was both physically and personally rewarding for the characters. The characters were intriguing, the passion, and expertise they exhibited felt believable and the story was told gracefully and simply but the feelings of triumph and discovery were really satisfying to watch. Nothing was overdone and yet you could really feel how significant this event was.

So this has been my Movie Monday. I hope you enjoyed it. Have you seen The Dig? What did you think? Let me know because I love hearing your thoughts.

Kate xo.

Lost Girls.

Hello everyone and welcome back to Movie Monday. Last week I dived into Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl, you should check it out if you haven’t already and today I am going to be talking about the movie Lost Girls, so let’s dive in. If you’re a fan of true crime, and mystery then this is a movie for you.

Plot.

Lost Girls, directed by Liz Garbus is movie that is based on the book Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery written by Robert Kolker. The movie follows Mari Gilbert as she relentlessly tries to get the disappearance of her daughter taken seriously and in the process she sheds light on the bodies of unsolved murders of young girls. The book and the movie are based on the true events of the Long Island serial killer.

Characters.

This movie is driven by female characters, particularly the character Mari Gilbert. Mari is a hardworking, driven, strong, single mother who is working two jobs so she can support her daughters and she is furious when the disappearance of her daughter is not taken seriously by the police. She is loud, she is determined. She is angry and she will not be sneered at and most importantly, she demands to know why the life of her daughter and the lives of other dead girls are not considered important or worth proper investigation.

Mari’s missing daughter Shannon, and all the other girls whose bodies were found were girls who struggled in life due to poverty and violence, and they made a living working as escorts and prostitutes and this is important to note because the movie’s message, in my opinion, is very clear.

Lost Girls conveys an important message, firmly stating that the lives these girls lived does not and should not matter and their circumstances should not mean that they do not deserve justice. Their deaths should be taken seriously, just as seriously as the death of a girl from a wealthy family would be taken.

Mari Gilbert is furious with the press, and this movie highlights an ongoing issue in society. When these girls are talked about in the news, they are called whores, prostitutes, sex workers etc, and Mari demands to know why no one will treat them with dignity and respect, why no one will mention that they are young girls, someone’s child, someone’s sister, someone’s friend, human beings who had hard lives and died violent deaths that they did not deserve. It is a very powerful message and the inclusion of the family members of the other girls, who form a bond with Mari because they have all lost a child, is very moving and it was brilliant to watch a movie be so brilliantly led by women.

Themes.

The themes of this movie are very straightforward. This movie highlights violence against women, and how despicable it is. Poverty vs wealth is another theme as the wealth divide and how these girls are treated because of their circumstances is repeatedly mentioned in this movie, constantly questioning why it is ok that these lives are being dismissed? Quick answer, it isn’t. Another theme in this movie is the theme of taking one’s power back, and this is a movie that gives agency to the female voice especially through the character of Mari Gilbert. She will not be ignored. She will not be disrespected. She will not allow her child to be disrespected and she will not be silenced. Mari being so resilient allowed the other women to feel empowered to stand with her, and do more, and to go forth and no longer allow themselves to be dismissed. While this is a dark movie, and a very sad one as it is based on true, tragic events, there is a theme of hope within this movie. There is a lesson to be learned. You can feel Mari’s determination through the screen and you can see her undying determination to get justice for her daughter in every scene she is in. It is hopeful seeing female characters decide to keep taking action, to keep on fighting for justice. Justice and injustice of course are major themes in this movie. The injustice of the deaths of these young girls, the injustice of how they are treated by the system, by the press, the fact they were only in dangerous situations to begin with because of circumstances they could not control such as poverty. This movie just captures how unfair it is that these girls never got the chance to grow up, to find love, to find happiness, to perhaps better themselves financially all because a violent killer considered them to be disposable, and then in death they were considered disposable too until someone said enough is enough. They are not and have never been disposable, and that person was the character Mari Gilbert.

Structure.

This story is told from the point of view of Mari Gilbert so at times it seems slow moving, this represents how she felt the investigation was slow moving. The pacing is very clever because at times I felt frustrated, wondering why is isn’t anyone doing more and then it clicked, that is the point. Audiences can empathise with Mari’s frustration, and the pacing matches how things would have been from her point of view. As someone who really enjoys movies, and all of the little details that go into making a movie, I thought this choice was very clever.

There is only one scene in this movie where we get a different point of view and that is during a retirement party for a detective. His point of view is very powerful because the movie gives him a moment to finally understand where Mari is coming from. At his party, there are strippers who have been hired for entertainment and this detective looks around watching all of his colleagues enjoying the show. He can’t enjoy the show, in fact he is horrified because it finally sinks in. The lost girls, the ones who have been repeatedly dismissed were all girls who worked similar jobs, strippers and escorts etc. Suddenly he feels like a hypocrite because here he was, at a party where everyone is enjoying the strippers and yet when it comes to investigating the horrific and violent murders of these young girls, they were dismissed because they were “only” strippers and escorts. He is humbled and he vows to do better and it’s a little too late but at least he’s had the realisation.

What I liked about this was it was a key opportunity for Garbus to employ the male gaze but instead she did not, she instead chose to focus on an emotional development which was performed excellently and as a viewer you could see the gears turning in this detective’s head and you could actually see the moment when it all clicked and that was very satisfying. It was a finally! moment and I’m glad it was included in the narrative.

Final Thoughts.

Lost Girls is a great movie. It is a sad movie, and of course it is tragic knowing that this is not fiction and those awful murders did actually take place. I feel this movie conveys some really important messages and while it is a hard watch, it is an educational watch and it is a very important watch. I think Lost Girls is a movie that everyone should see at least once.

Great director, great cast, tragic story but within it are some extremely important and moving messages.

So, this has been Movie Monday. I hope you enjoyed my rundown of Lost Girls. If you have seen this movie, I’d love to know what you think of it, so drop some comments, I love reading them and stay tuned for another great week here on Katelovesliterature.com.

Kate xo.

Escaping with Movies.

Hello everyone and welcome to the first of many movie reviews/discussions in my Movie Monday series. I am kicking off this series with a Disney movie. Today I am going to be talking about Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl. Is this an unexpected choice? Perhaps. Why did I choose it? Keep reading and find out.

I think it goes without saying that the past year has been very difficult, I won’t say why. We all know why. I spent the majority of 2021 sitting at my desk typing as I had to complete my final year of college and get my degree at home, alone in my room. The workload was heavy, deadlines were constant and at times it got very lonely so in order for me to stay on top of everything and stay self-motivated, it was crucial that I took some time for myself to recharge and relax. This is where movies come in.

One of my favourite ways to relax has always been to make a nice cup of tea, grab a treat, and sit down to watch a movie and over the past year I found myself especially thankful for Netflix and Disney+. Movies have always been called a form of escapism, and I have always agreed with that however I would say that now I have an even greater appreciation for movies and all that they can do for people.

So, that is why I have chosen to kick off my Movie Monday series with Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl because what could be more of an escapism movie than watching the honest blacksmith and an iconic pirate reluctantly team up to cross the ocean in order to break a curse and confess love while fighting undead pirates and the Royal Navy along the way? It is a movie filled with action and romance and rivalry and it is wonderfully entertaining.

There are four aspects that I consider when I’m thinking about how I’m going to review a movie. Plot, characters, themes and structure, and so these are the four aspects that I will be focusing on in this review/discussion of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl.

Plot.

Let’s dive in and start with the plot of this movie. I would argue it’s fairly straightforward. Our protagonist is the earnest and honest blacksmith Will Turner, and this movie follows him on his journey as he begrudgingly teams up with the morally ambiguous Captain Jack Sparrow because he wants to chase after his love Elizabeth Swann, who has been taken hostage by Captain Barbossa and his crew. Will wishes to find her and declare his love for her and Jack wants his ship back from Barbossa who betrayed him and stole it from him meaning they will both find what they want in the same place.

I would call this movie a quest narrative, in fact I even wrote a dissertation all about why I think it is a perfect example of a quest narrative, but I won’t go too much into detail about that today. To define a quest in the most simplistic way possible, a quest requires the main character (Will) to have to do something or go somewhere in order to achieve his goals, and he must face trials and learn about himself along the way. Think of that old saying about how the journey is more important than the destination. If the protagonist does not develop and mature during the quest, it’s been for nothing.

Will is going on a quest, in fact, all of the characters in this movie aside from Elizabeth are going on a quest. (Elizabeth’s quest comes in later movies however I’m only talking about the first movie today).

Will is on a quest to find Elizabeth and confess his love. Captain Jack Sparrow is on a quest to get his ship back. Barbossa and his crew are on a quest to break their curse and even the Royal Navy are on a quest, as they are questing to capture Captain Jack Sparrow and return Elizabeth safely to her father, the Governor.

Characters.

Something that I love about this movie is that it takes the time to establish who these characters are and the roles they play very early on and very clearly, and I will discuss this in more detail when I talk about structure, but the fact that this movie shows us distinctly who each character is, allows us to recognise how much they’ve developed by the end of the movie, and while it may appear that these characters are very stereotypical initially, another thing I love is that despite this being a Disney movie, the characters are not simply good or bad, they are all complex and nuanced and layered, which lends itself wonderfully to the themes of this movie, which I will elaborate on in my next point.

We’ve got Governor Swann, the doting father. He wants Elizabeth to marry well and he is very protective of her.

We have the lovely Elizabeth Swann who is absolutely fascinated by pirates and has been ever since she was a young girl. Elizabeth yearns for adventure and although her arc spans over several movies in this franchise, she is not a passive female character in this first movie despite being the one who Will wants to save. She is intelligent and a quick thinker and her wits keep her safe on Barbossa’s ship and although she is the only character in this first movie who is not questing, she does find her voice and realise what she wants throughout the course of this movie.

We have Will Turner. Brave, honest, earnest and naive Will Turner. Will is a hardworking blacksmith and he is in love with Elizabeth who is above him in station, meaning at the beginning of this movie it seems unlikely that they can be together even though she seems to reciprocate his feelings. Will is the perfect underdog. He’s kind, he’s handsome, he’s hardworking and he is full of potential that just needs some polishing up. He’s endearing and therefore he is a great character to root for when watching this movie. I would argue that he is the character who changes the most throughout this movie, his arc is wonderfully portrayed onscreen, and I will touch on this more when I talk about structure.

We have Commodore James Norrington. A man who hates pirates and always abides by the law. He wishes to marry Elizabeth. He brushes off Will’s concern for her and refuses to act rashly. He is always enforcing his rank in society and reminding Will of his.

Finally, we have our pirates. Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa.

Jack Sparrow is iconic and ambiguous. He’s mysterious and curious. He has one of the most brilliant entrance scenes in any movie and I would argue that his entrance in this movie sums up his entire character. He stands majestically on the mast of his ship as it is filling with water and sinking beneath the surface. He takes off his hat and bows his head in respect to the hanging pirates as he sails into Port Royal and he bribes the dock keeper with money so he doesn’t have to give his name. In just a few moments, we’ve learned so much. This man clearly doesn’t obey the law, and he will go with the flow as chaos ensues around him as if that was his plan all along, perhaps it was, with Jack Sparrow it’s hard to tell.

Barbossa is a man who longs for freedom. He wishes to break his curse. He is ruthless, he looks out for himself. He betrayed Jack in the past and would do so again, but he has his own morals, as does Jack, he respects the pirate’s code and he does not harm Elizabeth while she is aboard his ship. He’s an intelligent man, skilled at wordplay and you should not make a deal with Barbossa unless you are prepared to be extremely specific. Barbossa has figured out a way to cheat while fighting fair and it is what makes him such a brilliant opponent to Jack Sparrow. Barbossa also delivers one of the best lines in the movie, ‘You best start believing in ghost stories Miss Turner, you’re in one.’

All of these characters are memorable and the time the movie spends establishing who they are is really valuable because the introduction sets them up, giving us a solid idea about who they are and then throughout the movie, we watch them develop, we learn more about them, they are fleshed out so in fact they are all much more than who we assumed they are and that’s brilliant. We are given so much in this film but at no point does it feel too much. I would suggest that the characters are what makes this movie great, because if they were not so interesting, it would simply be another guy sets out to save girl movie and this is so much more than that.

Themes.

This movie contains some complex themes, the key ones being, in my opinion, the idea that legally right and morally right are not the same thing, names and their importance, class and self-discovery.

This movie creates a really interesting dynamic where audiences can find themselves rooting for Will and Jack even though they are breaking the law and a pirate, by default, should technically be the ‘bad’ guy and yet he is not, because Jack works by his own code and he teaches Will that legally right and morally right do not always go hand in hand and that one can be a pirate and a good man, something that Will does not believe at the start of this movie.

Let’s look at Will and Norrington. Legally speaking, we should root for Norrington. He’s in the Navy, he does not do anything rashly, he is trying to capture the pirates and he is a man who not only obeys the law, he enforces it however we do not root for him, we root for Will even though the moment he decides to team up with Jack, he is breaking the law.

So why do we root for him? We root for Will because Will is morally right. Every single thing Will does, he does because he wishes to get to Elizabeth and make sure she is safe. He always acts with noble intentions and I suppose it leads to that classic question do the ends justify the means? We also root for Will because he is simply more likeable than Norrington. He’s much closer in age to Elizabeth, he is better looking, he’s hardworking and he seems to care about her much more than Norrington does. He’s passionate, he’s ready to act, he’s furious about being dismissed simply because he’s not as rich as Norrington. Norrington may seem more sensible, he wants to make a solid plan, he does not wish to be unprepared and rash however there is no sense of urgency coming from him, so his attitude beside Will’s makes it appear that Will has much more heart than he does and that of course is a huge character trait of the underdog, they’ve got more heart and they are therefore more appealing to audiences.

Names are important because of what they lead to and what they represent. The only reason Barbossa held Elizabeth hostage in the first place is because she gave Will’s last name instead of her own. She did this thinking it would keep her safe, because she thought she was being kidnapped because she is the governor’s daughter however the name Turner turns out to be very significant and this honest blacksmith is much more significant than he knows. Will is the key to breaking the curse as his father was a pirate who Barbossa betrayed and now his blood runs through Will’s veins. If Elizabeth had not have given his name, this quest may have never occurred and Will may have never learned about his father or in fact, himself.

Names are also important because they highlight the class difference between Will and Elizabeth. At the beginning of the movie, Elizabeth keeps asking Will to use her first name but he keeps calling her ‘Miss Swann’, something that her father approves but by the end of this movie, he finally has the courage to call her ‘Elizabeth’. I will touch on this more when I talk about structure.

Class and self-discovery are so important in this film. Will feels his love for Elizabeth cannot be returned because of his station, and Elizabeth knows she must marry Norrington as he is a ‘good’ match. Norrington dismisses Will’s ideas and desires to save Elizabeth simply because he is a blacksmith and he always shuts him down by reminding him to remember his place. Will goes through a major development arc in this movie. He learns about his father, he learns how to fight, he learns about real life and how sometimes you have to do what’s right by you, he learns what he is truly capable of and he does indeed learn his place – a brilliant moment that I’ll discuss in the next section.

So, there is a lot happening in this movie and it is not ‘just’ a Disney movie. It is an entertaining and thought-provoking quest narrative that contains very layered themes and every time I watch this movie, I find something different to discuss.

Structure.

Let’s talk about structure. I would argue that this movie has a perfect, full circle structure because we end exactly where we began but everything and everyone has changed.

We start at Port Royal, for an event. Norrington’s promotion. Elizabeth is fascinated by pirates and Will can only call her ‘Miss Swann’ and utter ‘I love you’ as her carriage rolls away. Will hates pirates and practices for three hours daily with swords so he can kill a pirate if he ever crosses paths with one, and he assumes a pirate will fight fairly because he himself fights fairly. The plot begins when Elizabeth is taken and after attempting to do things the ‘right’ way and getting ignored, Will decides to go to Jack Sparrow for help and off they go on their quest.

The movie ends back at Port Royal, at an event. Jack’s hanging. Elizabeth is still fascinated by pirates, in fact she’s in love with one. Will has learned it is indeed possible to be a pirate and a good man, he has learned that there are people who will never fight fairly and he has learned that sometimes morally right and legally right are not the same thing. There is a scene at the start of this movie where he delivers a sword to Elizabeth’s house and she is on the stairs. There is a scene that mirrors this at Jack’s hanging. Elizabeth is standing on the stairs with her father. Will confidently strides over and addresses her as ‘Elizabeth’ and he finally confesses his love for her. To her face, not to himself as her carriage rolls away. He interrupts the hanging and helps Jack escape, stating that Jack is a good man, something he did not believe at the beginning, he attempted to fight Jack and win and now he is saving his life because he knows it is the right thing to do, and again audiences are rooting for him here even though he is breaking the law. Will says they can hang him too for this but his conscience will be clear. Norrington attempts to shut him down again, demanding to know if he has forgotten his place. In the beginning, this comment would make Will doubt himself but now he is sure of himself. It is a brilliant moment when Will looks Norrington in the eye and tells him, ‘My place is right here, between you and Jack.’ Elizabeth joins him, making it clear that Will is the one that she wishes to be with.

Will is still kind and honest and hardworking but his skills have been polished, he is no longer naive, he has learned about himself as a person and he has become a much more confident version of himself after his journey at sea. Structurally, this movie is very satisfying because we end exactly where we began but everyone has changed and evolved due to the journey they have all been on and because the characters were so well established, all of these changes and developments can be clearly recognised. The quest feels worth it. All goals were achieved. Will and Elizabeth are together, embracing on a cliff top, Jack has his beloved ship back, Barbossa and his crew did break their curse and Norrington did capture a pirate, briefly. This is a long movie however it is intriguing and entertaining and it comes full circle so the investment of time and energy feels worth it. It is a very satisfying end to a really good movie.

I’m going to quickly touch on the supernatural elements in this movie because I believe they are an example of really good storytelling. It can be difficult to introduce the supernatural into a story and it can often get in the way of a story however in this movie, the supernatural elements actually function really well as they move the story forward, and the way the curse is introduced to the movie is very well done and it flows quite seamlessly. This is a movie about pirates and we are very quickly brought into their world. The movie does not waste time trying to make the curse seem realistic or believable, the characters are so well done that they seem realistic and believable and so as an audience, we are already suspending our disbelief. The sea is unknown territory, as is the world of pirates, so when Barbossa explains to Elizabeth in his fantastic speech about greed, and taking it all but feeling nothing before the moonlight exposes his skeletal figure, we believe him. In a sense Elizabeth can be the voice of the audience here as she tells him she does not believe in ghost stories, and he informs her that she should start believing in them because she’s in one. I feel that this line is fantastic and it can also be applied to the audience, Barbossa has explained what the curse is and how it came to be and he does not try to prove it, he just tells Elizabeth she is now part of it and the audience can also be told the same thing, start believing in ghost stories, we are in one, we are watching one. In my opinion, the supernatural elements were really well done in this movie and more narratives should operate this way.

Final Thoughts.

My final thoughts are simply that this is a really entertaining movie and I thoroughly enjoyed watching it again, and I would watch it again as I’m sure I would spot something new that I love and will want to discuss at a later time. I feel that I have said a lot today but I could still say more, I could talk about the dynamic between Jack and Will, Jack and Barbossa, and of course I could decide to talk about all the movies in this franchise and do a review/discussion on each one.

I think that if you love action, then this is a great film to watch as there are some brilliant action scenes that are quite underrated in my humble opinion. If you appreciate good storytelling, then you will enjoy this movie, the set up, the motivation, the structure, it is a long movie but it is done so well that it doesn’t feel long and that is very important.

If you love Disney then this is a classic, I think it is one of the best Disney movies because it is so much fun but is also complex and layered and if you love movies the way I do, it’s a very thought-provoking watch.

Most of all though, this movie is an amazing form of escapism. For a few hours, you can be transported to the Caribbean and taken in by this rich world full of unique and well thought-out characters and it’s a movie that ticks many boxes. Romance? Got it. Action? Got it. Comedy? Got it. Heart? Got it. A really good plot? Got it. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl will always be a movie that I recommend and I hope you enjoyed my review/discussion of it.

This has been the first Movie Monday and there are many to come.

Let me know what you think of my rundown of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl. Have you seen it? What do you think of it? Has this Movie Monday made you want to watch or rewatch it? What’s your favourite movie? I’d love to know so let me know in the comments.

Hope you enjoyed Movie Monday.

Kate xo.