Pirates of the Carribean

image for Pirates of the Carribean

Short takes

Not suitable under 12, parental guidance to 14 (Viol., Horror, Themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Pirates of the Carribean
  • a review of Pirates of the Carribean completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 10 September 2003.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 12 Due to the degree of horror, the supernatural themes and the level of violence in this film, it is not suitable for children under the age of twelve years.
Children aged 12 to 13 This movie is likely to be appealing to children, particularly boys, in this age group. Some of them may be able to handle the horror and supernatural themes; however, many children aged 12 to 13 could still be very disturbed by the movie. Parents are encouraged to think very carefully about their child's susceptibility to horror and supernatural themes, before allowing them to see this movie. In all instances, for this age group, strong parental guidance and support is recommended.
Children over the age of 13 Most children over the age of 13 will be able to see this movie, although some children in this age group may still need parental guidance.

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. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Pirates of the Carribean
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Medium level violence, Supernatural themes
Length: 143 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Pirates of the Caribbean, produced by the Disney Corporation, is a swashbuckling pirate adventure film staring Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, Orlando Bloom as Will Turner, Geoffrey Rush as Captain Barbossa, and Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Swan.

Captain Jack Sparrow arrives at the British Caribbean port of Port Royal with the intention of stealing a ship from the local authorities, but instead ends up in prison awaiting the hangman’s noose. At this point the real bad guys, Captain Barbossa of the Black Pearl and his band of cursed pirates attack Port Royal and kidnap the governor’s daughter Elizabeth Swan, whom they believe holds the key to lifting their curse, the curse of the living dead. To be free of the curse the pirates must spill some of Elizabeth’s blood over stolen Aztec gold. Will Turner, who has been in love with Miss Swan since childhood frees Captain Jack from prison with the provision that Captain Jack assists him to track down the Black Pearl and rescue Miss Swan.

Captain Jack and Will find the Black Pearl on an uncharted Caribbean island and successfully rescue her. Captain Barbossa realises that Will is really the one whose blood they need to lift the curse, so he gives chase and takes Will prisoner. Elizabeth and Captain Jack are left to die on a deserted island. Their fortunes change when Elizabeth’s father the Governor and a troop of British soldiers become involved.

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.

Violence was featured throughout then entire film from beginning to end. At times the use of violence was presented in a realistic manner, such as:

  • ship’s cannons battering navy forts
  • people being impaled on swords
  • people having their throats cut.

At other times, the use of violence was set in a comical, slapstick, tongue in cheek context.

The use of violence was glamourised by attractive looking heroes and heroines who were able to employ the use of violence in an extremely effective and stylish manner. The use of violence by the villains while effective was presented in a less attractive and far more brutal manner.

Violence was presented as a socially acceptable means to an ends, and portrayed little real life consequences such as pain and suffering. Heroes were able to quickly bounce back from blows that would be fatal to most, while the evil heroes were completely impervious to harm.

The use of violence throughout the film was for the most part portrayed by males. Violent acts performed by female were less severe than their male counterparts eg, a slap across the face and set in a comical context eg, jilted lover. The heroine of the film is the exception to this and commits at least one very violent act. For the most part however, the heroine, rather than enacting violent acts, sought clever means of achieving her aims and outwitting her rivals.

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.

The main concern for children under the age of five years relates to supernatural transformations:

  • when struck by moonlight, the cursed pirates transform into grotesque corpse complete with rotting flesh and protruding bones
  • a number of rotting corpses are seen hanging from a rock.

Other violent scenes include:

  • people being impaled on swords
  • people being butchered by axe wielding pirates
  • buildings and ships exploding
  • people being hurled through the air as a result of an explosion
  • bombs exploding
  • fist fighting
  • the heroine being slapped hard across the face by Captain Barbossa
  • a gun held at the head of the heroine
  • a small donkey banded by a red hot iron to make it walk around in a circle
  • ships battling their way through fierce storms, with high seas, thunder and lightening

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.

Children in this age group could also be disturbed by the violent scenes described above.

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.

Children in this age group could be disturbed by many of the violent scenes described above.

Thirteen and overinfo

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.

The supernatural scenes presented in Pirates of the Caribbean may present a problem for some early adolescents.

Product placement

None noted.

Sexual references

None noted.

Nudity and sexual activity

None noted.

Use of substances

There were several scenes involving the consumption of what appeared to be alcohol. Some images involved a pirate drinking from a hip flask with the inference that it contained alcohol. Other scenes involved a man who had apparently passed out due to excessive alcohol consumption. One scene involved Captain Jack and the heroine on a deserted island consuming rum and becoming intoxicated; while the pair were obviously intoxicated and slurring their speech, the behaviour was not anti-social or offensive. The heroine displayed remorse the following morning by burning the remainder of the rum supply as a signal fire.

Coarse language

None noted.

In a nutshell

The main theme presented throughout the film is a battle between the forces of good versus the forces of evil, with good triumphing over evil. While the evil side is obviously bad, certain authority figures on the good side displayed at times questionable values and morals, such as abandoning good heroes when it suited their own needs.

Positive values parents may wish to encourage include Will and Elizabeth’s:

  • loyalty to each other and the people they cared for
  • self-sacrificing manner
  • ability to endure through adversity.

Negative values included:

  • the use of violence
  • intimidation
  • deception
  • theft
  • greed
  • vengeance.