Australian Council on Children and the Media

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

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Not recommended under 13, PG to 15: Violence, scary scenes, supernatural themes

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
  • a review of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 24 May 2007.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to violence, scary and disturbing scenes and supernatural themes
Children over the age of 13 Parental guidance recommended due to violence, scary and disturbing scenes and supernatural themes

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Moderate violence; supernatural themes
Length 168 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The film opens with the hanging of hundreds of citizens, including a small boy, for the crime of aiding pirates. The man responsible for the hangings is Lord Beckett (Tom Hollander), head of the East India Trading Company who has enlisted Davy Jones to rid the oceans of all pirates and any opposition to himself.
The story then travels to Hong Kong where Elizabeth Swan (Keira Knightley), Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris) are attempting to gain an audience with the Chinese pirate lord Captain Sao Feng (Yun-Fat). Sao Feng holds an ancient map that will lead Swan and co to the underworld of Davy Jones’s locker, where they hope to find Captain Jack Sparrow and return him back to the land of the living. Captain Jack’s presence is required for a gathering of the Nine Lords of the Brethren Court (the world’s most formidable pirates). Only if the nine join forces can they hope to overthrow Lord Beckett.
The band of rescuers make their way to Davy Jones’s Locker, find captain Jack and then return him, themselves and the Black Pearl (Jack’s ship) back to the land of the living., Elizabeth Swan who has now become the leader of the Chinese pirates, Barbossa, Sparrow, and Turner make their way to the meeting of the Brethren Court with Beckett and Jones in close pursuit. At the meeting, Elizabeth is made King of the Pirates and the Brethren Court agree to join forces against Beckett and Jones. When the nine Pirate Lords sail out to challenge Beckett’s armada they find themselves greatly outnumbered. Tia Dalma reveals that she is really the Storm Goddess Calypso imprisoned in a human form by the original Brethren Court, and that she now wants to be freed. The Brethren Court agree to free Calypso in exchange for her help in destroying Beckett and his Armada. Once freed, she creates a giant whirlpool which becomes the battleground for Jack’s ship the Black Pearl and Jones’s ship the Flying Dutchman.
After a number of fierce battles and confusing plot twists, life returns to normal.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Pirate mythology, the supernatural

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The movie contains intense sequences of stylised violence which is often brutal. Examples include:

  • The film’s opening scene depicts hundreds of people, including a young boy, in chains and rags lining up for a mass hanging. We see the nooses being placed around the victims’ heads with the next image being their feet twitching at the end of the ropes and then a pile of bodies. The young boy is shown being placed upon a barrel and having the rope placed around his neck.
  • Elizabeth grabs a man and holds a knife to his throat.
  • A man threatens to gore the face of William Turner with a sharpened stake.
  • A man is knocked unconscious when bashed in the head with a shovel.
  • In violent mass brawls people are punched in the head and stomach, shot, stabbed through the stomach with swords. Explosions hurl people through the air and buildings explode.
  • A woman is deliberately shot in the head.
  • Cannon fire destroys ships with debris and people being blown through the air and into the sea.
  • A man snaps off his own frost-bitten big toe.
  • Jack Sparrow shoots and stabs imaginary images of himself.
  • A man is killed when his body is crushed beneath a falling cannon.
  • A man is found dead with a wooden spike entering his mouth and exiting through the back of his head.
  • Sao Feng forces himself upon and overpowers Elizabeth, forcibly kissing her on the lips.
  • A cannon ball explodes through the side of a ship resulting in Sao Feng being impaled through the chest by a large wooded stake.
  • A creature that has the body of a man and a head resembling a moray eel bites down onto the head of a man. The creature is later decapitated, but then regenerates.
  • Davy Jones uses his crab claw hand to grab Tia Dalma by the throat.
  • When the Nine Pirate Lords hold their council meeting an argument erupts resulting in an all out brawl which includes bottles being smashed over heads and punches to the face and body.
  • A pirate shoots one of the Pirate Lords in the chest.
  • In a fierce battle between the Black Pearl and the Flying Dutchman cannon balls explode through the sides of the ships, people are blown through the air, dead and bloodied bodies lying on the ship’s deck, and fish/men creatures are blown up. Men are stabbed with swords, Jack Sparrow cuts off one of Davy Jones’s tentacles, men are punched in the face and stomach and Will stabs Davy Jones through the chest with a sword.
  • Davy Jones uses his tentacles to strangle another man.
  • Lord Beckett’s ship is totally destroyed by cannon fire with Beckett being engulfed in flames.
  • Two women are seen fighting.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare/disturb and possibly traumatise children under the age of five, including the following:

  • A young boy, chained and in rags, is marched to the gallows, stood on a small barrel and has a rope noose placed around his neck.
  • The physical appearance of the pirates is scary.
  • Sao Feng has a scary menacing appearance with long fingernails and a face covered with scars.
  • Tia Dalma/Calypso appearance has some resemblance to a witch. Her face is tattooed and she has ink black stained teeth.
  • A small chest is shown containing the bloody beating heart of Davy Jones.
  • In one scene a desert turns to a sea of crabs.
  • One scene depicted thousands of dinghies each containing a soul of the dead. One of these souls is Elizabeth Turner’s father. Elizabeth becomes very upset and distraught when she discovers that her father is in one of the dinghies.
  • An image is shown of the carcase of giant kraken washed up on the beach
  • Davy Jones is an evil, sinister creature. His face resembles an octopus with beard and hair made up of tentacles with one of his arms resembling a crab’s claw. 
  • Davy Jones’s crew consists of underworld creatures that are part man and part marine animal. Some have barnacles growing from the sides of their faces and out of their bodies.
  • Tia Dalma/Calypso transforms the arm and hand of Captain Barbossa to that of a skeleton. 
  • The shrunken head of a woman (Jack’s mother) is pulled out of a pouch.
  • An imaginary Jack Sparrow, who has the top of his head missing reaches up and pulls out his own brain, then sticks out his tongue and licks his brain.
  • Tia Dalma transforms into the goddess Calypso by first growing into giant proportions and then transforming into thousands of crabs that scuttle over the side of the ship and into the ocean.
  • Davy Jones walks around unaffected by a sword stuck through his chest.
  • Davy Jones uses his tentacles to strangle a man. One of his tentacles enters the man throat and exits through his nose. When Davy Jones finally drops the man on the deck the man’s face is ruined, with one eye totally deformed.  
  • After dying on the decks of the Flying Dutchman, the man/fish crew of the Flying Dutchman shuffled towards the body of Will Turner. One holds a knife while another  holds the chest that previously contained the beating heart of Davy Jones. The crew chant that the ship must have a Captain as they approached Will. Later Will is seen alive and well with a large scar running down his chest.           

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Many of the images listed above are capable of scaring children under the age of eight.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

As well as the violence described above, many of the images listed as being capable scaring children under the age of eight years are capable of disturbing or scaring children between the ages of eight and thirteen years. Of most concern are:

  • The young boy being hung.
  • The scary appearance of Davy Jones and his crew.
  • An imaginary Jack Sparrow pulling his brain out and then licking it.
  • Davy Jones using his tentacle to strangle another man.    

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children over the age of thirteen year should be able to cope with many of the scary images presented throughout the film. However, children closer to the age of thirteen years may find the film’s more gruesome images, and the idea of a young boy being hung, disturbing. 

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • When confronted by a man on the streets of Hong Kong, Elizabeth is told how dangerous it is “particularly for a woman”. She is then told to take off her clothes so as to be checked for weapons.
  • Elizabeth, dressed only in a short robe, is standing on floor boards while a pirate standing underneath looks up through the boards and up her robe. The excited pirate then signal a friend to have a look, but Elizabeth has changes places with a large Chinese man also wearing a robe.
  • Jack walks down a dock with a pirate woman on each side of him. Jack discusses how he will give them ‘a guided tour’ of his ship.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Elizabeth Swan is asked to remove her clothes so as to be checked for weapons. She is later seen wearing a thin, thigh-length robe.
  • A number of woman are dressed in sensuous clothing wearing low cut tops that reveal cleavage and skirts with slits up the thigh.
  • Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan kiss each other several times on the mouth.
  • Not long after being married, Will and Elizabeth are seen dressing. Elizabeth approaches Will wearing one of his boots and revealing her naked leg. Will start to sensuously kiss her leg, moving towards her thigh.  .
  • Sao Feng forces himself upon Elizabeth, pinning her against a wall and forcibly kissing her on the mouth. 

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • A few scenes involving pirates drinking rum from cups and bottles. 

Coarse language

There is some occasional mild coarse language in this movie, including “bloody”and “hell” and numerous pirate expressions such as “Slap me thrice and hand me to mumma.”

In a nutshell

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is a swashbuckling pirate adventure with stylised action, numerous special effects, spectacular scenery and humour that is sure to entertain an older adolescent audience. The film is very long and contains an over-abundance of plots and subplots.

The main messages of the movie include the value of self sacrifice and of banding together to fight for a just cause, and the need for trust and the keeping of secrets.

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