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- "Captain Barbossa, I am here to negotiate the cessation of hostilities against Port Royal."
"There were a lot of long words in there, miss, we're naught but humble pirates. What is it that you want?"
"I want you to leave and never come back."
"I'm disinclined to acquiesce to your request. Means 'no.'"
- ―Elizabeth Swann and Hector Barbossa
The Attack on Port Royal was a pirate raid carried out by the cursed crew of the Black Pearl during their search for an Aztec gold medallion. Knowing it was the last piece they needed to lift the terrible curse they were under, the pirates followed the call to the town of Port Royal.
Unbeknownst to Elizabeth Swann, when she fell off the battlements of Fort Charles and into the water, the gold medallion she wore sent out a ripple. Because it touched the water, the gold called to the cursed pirates. That night, Port Royal was besieged by the Black Pearl. Lured by the medallion that Elizabeth wore around her neck, the pirates storm the governor's mansion. Despite the defenses made by Commodore James Norrington and the garrison of Fort Charles, Elizabeth would be kidnapped by the pirates after the former invoked the right of parley. The attack ended with Elizabeth negotiating with Captain Hector Barbossa on the Black Pearl, where she persuaded the pirates to stop the attack in exchange for the medallion. Believing Elizabeth had "Turner blood", which they needed to lift their curse, Barbossa kept her aboard as captive.
- 1 Prelude
- 2 Pirate Attack
- 3 Aftermath
- 4 Behind the scenes
- 5 Sources
- 6 Notes and references
Arrival of Captain Jack Sparrow
- "What's your purpose in Port Royal, Mr. Smith?"
"Yeah, and no lies!"
"Well, then, I confess: it is my intention to commandeer one of these ships, pick up a crew in Tortuga, raid, pillage, plunder and otherwise pilfer my weasely black guts out."
"I said no lies!"
- ―Mullroy and Murtogg interrogating Jack Sparrow.
Jack Sparrow, without a ship, was reduced to "borrowing" the Jolly Mon from Anamaria, a boat that barely made it to Port Royal before sinking. Now "in the market" for a new vessel, Jack attempted to commandeer the Interceptor, but his current intentions were interrupted by a young lady falling from Fort Charles. Despite his piratical nature, Jack was not about to let the girl, Elizabeth Swann, drown, and dived into the ocean to rescue her. While in the water, the a piece of gold she was wearing as a medallion sent a call out to the cursed pirates of the Black Pearl. Bringing her up to the harbor, Jack spied a strange coin fastened around her neck; one of the pieces of Aztec gold Barbossa's men were seeking. However, before he could explore the situation further, Commodore James Norrington and Governor Weatherby Swann arrived to arrest Sparrow.
Despite having saved Governor Swann's daughter, Jack was sentenced to be hanged. Elizabeth stood up for Jack, however, Jack held Elizabeth hostage, ensuring the return of his effects before making his daring escape. With Norrington's men in pursuit, Jack sought refuge in a blacksmith's shop, where he cut his manacles. However, he was soon confronted by the blacksmith's apprentice, Will Turner, whose face Sparrow vaguely recognized, who engaged the pirate in a sword fight. Sparrow won, through a mixture of skill and pirate trickery, but Turner refused to stand down. Jack was resolute he would not shoot Turner, thus wasting his single shot, and was preoccupied enough with this quandry for John Brown to knock him unconscious with a wine glass. Founded by Commodore Norrington's men, Jack was arrested to await an appointment at the gallows.
Before the attack
After his capture, Jack Sparrow was given a room in Fort Charles looking out across Port Royal bay, though the prison bars somewhat spoil the view. It wasn't the first time Jack had been locked up, but he's worried, nonetheless. Imprisonment is the beginning of a story that soon ends, with "a short drop and a sudden stop," for the punishment for piracy is the hangman's noose. Inside Port Royal's prison, Jack thought about this hazard, but doesn't give up hope, as he had cheated the hangman before. Several seedy-looking prisoners, desperate to avoid the hangman, try to coax the Prison Dog, who held a ring of keys in his mouth, to their cell. One prisoner holds a loop of rope and another waggles a bone, while the dog just sits and cocks his head. In an adjoining cell, laying down on floor, Jack forewarned his criminal companions, "You can keep doing that forever, the dog is never going to move." One of the prisoners remarked on Jack's inability to resign himself from the gallows.
Meanwhile, the Governor's mansion, a maid named Estrella removed a bed warmer from the fireplace and slid it between the sheets at the end of Elizabeth Swann's bed. Estrella and Elizabeth briefly discussed the events of that day—during which Elizabeth had been rescued and subsequently held hostage by Jack Sparrow, though got into the subject of Commodore Norrington's earlier proposal to her. Finally noting suggestively Elizabeth's affection for Will Turner, rather than James Norrington, Estrella left the room. Elizabeth began reading a book, toying absently with the medallion around her neck until the flame from her lamp diminished and goes out, and the room went dark.
Will Turner works at the blacksmith's shop, then stopped as his attention was drawn to the window. Peering out, there was nothing but a thick fog, which now blanketed the entire town, with Fort Charles as the only visible structure. Above the fort was a clear black sky and a waxing moon shining, giving both Fort and fog an eerie glow as the Black Pearl had come to Port Royal.
The Black Pearl attacks
A noose hangs from a gallows in the courtyard as Governor Swann and Commodore Norrington walk along the far wall, speaking very briefly about Elizabeth until hearing cannon fire in the distance. The Black Pearl arrived in the dead of night, in hunt of the medallion. They arrived into Port Royal unhindered, because of its ebony black timbers and the surrounding unnatural fog. Norrington at once ordered the garrison to return fire, but was unable to for a minute, because of most of the garrison was asleep.
The sound of gunfire made Jack Sparrow spring from his hard stone seat to gaze at the bay. Although his prison cell was directly in the firing line, the blasts were music to his ears, for he quickly recognized the sound of the guns as those of his beloved Black Pearl. He and some of the other prisoners peer out through the window bars to see the Black Pearl attacking. One prisoner spoke of stories he heard about the Pearl, saying that the ship never left any survivors. At the harbor, the Black Pearl could not be seen over the fog, but lit up around her with each boom of her cannons, firing on both sides, hammering across the harbor, shore, and the town. Streets, buildings, docks and ships shatter and explode beneath the onslaught. Villagers panic, running for cover and dodging flying debris, while some form up to meet the attack.
Longboats emerge out of the fog, carrying armed pirates that began raiding and ransacking the town. Many citizens fought back when soldiers were not available, but almost all were killed in their valiant attempts. In the blacksmith's forge, Will Turner slipped a boarding axe into his belt at the small of his back. He puts a dirk in his belt, then a second and a third, and picked up a second axe and a sword. As Will opened the doors of the forge, a woman runs past, chased by a pirate, Jacoby. Will backhands his axe square into Jacoby's back, a deadly blow, and headed out, up the street to participate in the defending the town.
Cannon fire from the Black Pearl continued to rain down, but the fort's own cannons returned fire. Unable to see the Pearl itself, the garrisons' gunners were ordered to fire at the muzzle flashes. Both sides fired very hot volleys at each other, but most of the shots from the Fort fell short, but all the shots from the ship hit targets. As cannonballs from the Pearl battered the stone walls of the fort, the ramparts were no place for dithering Governor Swann, who quaked with fear at every blast. So Commodore Norrington ordered a dazed Governor Swann to take refuge in his office.
Kidnapping Elizabeth Swann
At the Governor's mansion, Elizabeth Swann looks out a window at the scene below: even through the fog, multiple fires are visible, and ships burn in the harbor. She then noticed movement directly below her—a group of pirates head for the Governor's mansion. Elizabeth reached the railing overlooking the foyer, and cried out to the butler just as he opens the door. But she was too late; one of the pirates, Pintel, fired his pistol, and the butler crumpled to the floor. The pirates started pillaging the mansion, while Pintel and Ragetti rush for the stairs after Elizabeth, who ran back into the nearest room. Elizabeth found a terrified Estrella, who warned that the pirates were after her, as the daughter of a governor would be very valuable. Realizing she was right, Elizabeth told Estrella hide and run for the fort the first chance she had to escape, while Elizabeth herself handled the pirates.
The door smashed open as Pintel and Ragetti rush in to find Elizabeth, who attacked the two pirates with the pan of the bed warmer. While Estrella got away, registering the butler's body as she continued out the still-open front door, Elizabeth dashed for the hallway stairs. The pirates burst from the bedroom, Pintel goes for the stairs and Ragetti jumped over the handrail, landing between Elizabeth and the front door. After a while, the chase led to the dining room, where Elizabeth tried grabbing one of the crossed swords from above the fireplace; she grabs one by the hilt and pulls, but it wouldn't come free. Elizabeth then hid from the pirates, who revealed they were looking for the medallion she had in her possession, until they found her. As they burst through the doors, Elizabeth backs away while gasps "Parley!", which, according to the Pirate's Code, meant that the pirates had to take her to their captain and that they could do her no harm until the parley was complete. Although Ragetti said "to blazes" with the Code, Pintel agreed to her terms so long as she'll "go without a fuss," saying they must honor the Code.
Will Turner participated in the defending the town, having gotten away from a pirate, who was knocked by a sign. He then saw Elizabeth forced away by the two pirates. Before Will could pursue them, he hesitated after seeing Jacoby, the pirate he had "killed" earlier, and saw a hand grenade inches from his feet. However, the grenade didn't detonate. But Will ended up bashed from behind by a pan and knocked to the ground, unconscious.
Reunion in prison
At Fort Charles, Jack Sparrow continued watching the attack raged on, until one shot from the Black Pearl blasted towards the Fort's prison. Jack ducked as the wall of the cells exploded inward. Jack Sparrow pulled himself up as he saw freedom beyond the gaping hole created by the cannonball. But from Jack's position, it was centered on the other cell. The part of Jack's cell that is gone was too small for a man to slip through. The seedy prisoners were still desperate to avoid the hangman. Though they couldn't tempt the Prison Dog, the one cannonball sets Jack's criminal companions free. As they escaped the prison through a hole in their cell wall, they sympathized with Jack, still locked inside. "You've no manner of luck at all," they tell him before leaving Jack alone. Cannon fire continues, occasional hits shaking the fort, as the moonlight shines in through the gaping hole and prison bars.
The Prison Dog cowered under a long bench, with the key ring still in his mouth. Jack then picks up the bone from the other cell, and tried coax the dog to him. The dog crawled out from under the bench as Jack continued to coax him closer. The key ring was nearly within Jack's reach, until the dog's attention went to the door into the cell block and dashed away as the door burst open. A pair of pirates step in, Koehler and Twigg, looking for the fort's armory, and spotted Jack in his cell. As two members of Jack's old crew, they came upon him, and mused that his fortunes hadn't improved since they last saw him, marooned on an island. Jack then warned the two that the lowest circle of hell was reserved for betrayers and mutineers. Suddenly, Koehler grabbed Jack by the throat through the bars. Jack clutches the pirate's wrist, looks down where they enter the moonlight and saw that Koehler's wrists and hands were skeletal. Jack's eyes went wide as he realized that the stories he knew about curse were real and not only myth. Koehler sneered as he shoved Jack backwards, hard. Now out of the moonlight, his hand appeared normal. Jack stared as Koehler and Twigg left him, alone in his cell, to ponder of what he had just learned.
Parley aboard the Black Pearl
- "Wait! You have to take me to shore! According to the Code of the Order of the Brethren—"
"First, your return to shore was not part of our negotiations nor our agreement, so I must do nothing. And secondly, you must be a pirate for the Pirate's Code to apply, and you're not. And thirdly, the Code is more what you'd call guidelines than actual rules. Welcome aboard the Black Pearl, Miss Turner."
- ―Elizabeth Swann and Hector Barbossa
Amid the thunder of cannon fire, a longboat full of pirates, and Elizabeth Swann, slipped through the fog. Columns of water from the cannon balls geyser up around the boat. The fog parted as Elizabeth looked up to see the Black Pearl looming high above her. At the bow was an ornately carved figurehead of a beautiful woman, arm held high, a small bird taking wing from her outstretched hand. On the poop deck, by the ship's wheel, stood the imposing silhouetted figure of Captain Hector Barbossa. As Elizabeth and the pirates boarded the Pearl, the Bo'sun confronted Pintel about bringing a captive and slapped Elizabeth when she spoke out of turn. His wrist was immediately grabbed by Barbossa, telling him "not lay a hand on those under the protection of parlay", then released him before turning his attention to Elizabeth.
Elizabeth then continued her negotiation of the cessation of hostilities against Port Royal. Both impressed and amused of using long words on "humble pirates", Captain Barbossa asked Elizabeth what she wanted. She told him she wanted he and his crew to leave and never come back, which made Barbossa's crew laugh before Barbossa himself said "I am disinclined to acquiesce to your request. Means 'No.'" The pirates go quiet as Elizabeth quickly slipped the medallion off and dangled it over the side of the ship, warning she'd drop it. Barbossa scoffed at Elizabeth's threat, openly asking why that bit of shine mattered to his crew. Elizabeth concluded that it was what they were searching years for, confessing she recognized their ship and having saw it eight years ago when she sailed the crossing from England. Although Barbossa expressed a slight interest, Elizabeth pretended to drop the medallion, which caused Barbossa and his crew to show their concern for the trinket.
Amused, Barbossa inquired Elizabeth for her name. Remembering Estrella's warning of the governor's daughter being valuable, she introduced herself as "Elizabeth Turner", embroidering that she was a maid in the governor's household. Barbossa reacted to the name "Turner": it confirmed what he had suspected. Without saying it, he believed she was the child of Bootstrap Bill Turner and that she had Turner blood, the blood they needed to lift their curse. This fascinated the other pirates, who surreptitiously exchange glances and nods. With this in mind, Barbossa promised to leave the town and never return. While hesitant, Elizabeth had no choice but to hand Barbossa the medallion. Barbossa nodded to Bo'sun, who ordered the crew to stop the attack, before turning away. As the pirates hustle to follow orders, Elizabeth reminds Barbossa that he had to take her to shore according to the Pirate's Code. Barbossa noted several loopholes, such as her return to shore was not part of their agreement, that she was not a pirate so the Code wouldn't apply to her, and that the Code itself was more like "guidelines" than rules. Elizabeth stared in speechless terror as Barbossa welcomed her aboard the Black Pearl.
At dawn of the following day, Will Turner came to, still where he fell the prior night. Getting up to his feet, Will takes in the devastation of Port Royal: the harbor dotted with burning ships, buildings were razed and still smolder, and many casualties of the brutal pirate attack. Will turned and ran to Fort Charles, where Commodore Norrington, Governor Swann, and Gillette were gathered around a map of the Lesser Antilles.
Despite Will saying they must hunt down the pirates and save Elizabeth, there was no lead. Murtogg and Mullroy then mention that Jack Sparrow had talked about the the Black Pearl, which then made Will Turner suggest make a deal with Sparrow. But Norrington pointed out that the pirates were not Sparrow's allies as they left him locked in his cell. He instead proposed that they determine the most likely course, and launch a search mission. Will slammed his boarding axe into the desk, through the map, saying that Norrington's plan wasn't good enough. Norrington was quick to react by saying he was merely a blacksmith, and that this was not the time for rash actions. Guiding him roughly to the door, Norrington warned Turner that he should not make the mistake of thinking he was the only one who cared for Elizabeth.
Deal with a Pirate
Having failed to persuade Norrington to help rescue Elizabeth, Will Turner turned to Jack Sparrow, who was still locked in Fort Charles prison. In the fort's jail cells, Jack Sparrow tried to budge one of the bars. Even with the damages from the pirate attack, it wouldn't move. After hearing the sound of someone approaching, Jack lounged on the floor of his cell as Will Turner approached Jack's cell for answers about the Black Pearl so he could save Elizabeth. Jack revealed about Captain Barbossa and his crew sail from Isla de Muerta, an island that couldn't be found except for those who knew where it was. Despite his differences with Jack, the pirate who threatened Elizabeth a day ago, Will helped free Jack from his cell so he could help in his rescue mission. Jack then recovered "his effects", including his pistol. Though he initially refused to help, Jack agreed to help after learning his name, a name also carried by his father. Prior to beginning their venture, Jack asked Will how far he would go to save her. Will said, without hesitation, that he'd die for her.
Commandeering a Ship
Before they could continue their journey, Jack Sparrow and Will Turner needed a ship. So the duo proceeded to taking the HMS Dauntless, despite the ship's crew making fun as well as objections from Gillette, who belittled them by pointing out saying they'd never make it out of the bay. Meanwhile, at the docks, Royal Navy Officer Theodore Groves alerted Commodore Norrington of Gillette's crew on a rowboat. After spotting Sparrow and Turner aboard the Dauntless, Norrington remarked "That is, without doubt, the worst pirate I have ever seen," before setting off at once to retake the Dauntless. The Interceptor quickly came alongside the Dauntless. Norrington's men swarm across and began searching every part of the vessel, but not noticing Jack and Will boarding the Interceptor.
Realizing his ship was taken, Norrington ordered his sailors back to the Interceptor, but it was too late after one brave sailor tried to swing the across on a rope and fell short with a splash. Across the distance, Jack thanked the Commodore as he took the wheel. Angered, Norrington's order to Groves was measured as he rather see the ship at the bottom of the ocean than in the hands of a pirate. Before Norrington's men could fire the cannons, the steersman told Norrington that Sparrow disabled the rudder chain, thereby making the Dauntless unmovable. The Interceptor dwindled with distance as Groves remarked with admiration, "That's got to be the best pirate I've ever seen," even though Norrington did not share the sentiment.
With Jack at the wheel, the Interceptor cuts across the waves, as Jack and Will sailed for the island of Tortuga. There they met with Joshamee Gibbs, who agreed to help Jack in recruiting a crew to man the Interceptor. Now with an assembled crew, Jack and Will sailed the Interceptor for the Isla de Muerta to rescue Elizabeth Swann.
Days later, after the battle which ended with the curse lifted and Barbossa's death, the Black Pearl was now Jack's ship once again. But because his crew took the Pearl midway in the battle, Jack had no choice but to keep his appointment with the hangman. Moments away from death, he can't help smiling as he remembers some of the crimes the town clerk reads out: "...impersonating a cleric of the Church of England..." His smile fades as the list ends ...you are sentenced to be hung by the neck until dead..." Commodore Norrington, Governor Swann, and the town people were present at Jack's hanging. But Elizabeth Swann, now Norrington's fiancée, believed this to be wrong. Suddenly, Will Turner appeared and told Elizabeth he loved her before disappearing into the crowd.
Just as Jack began to think that his luck has finally run out, Will dashed to the rescue. Will drew his sword and hurled it at the very moment that the lever was pulled to execute Jack, then ran up to fight the executioner. By standing on Will's blade, Jack stops the noose from tightening around his neck. After fighting off Norrington's men, Will and Jack were surrounded. Elizabeth then stood with Will in front of Jack. Just then, Jack fell into the harbor, where the Black Pearl was waiting for him. Despite his escape Norrington allowed Jack one day's head start before the pursuit. Noticing Elizabeth loved Will, he wished them a happy life.
Behind the scenes
- The name "Attack on Port Royal" was taken from The Complete Visual Guide and The Art of Pirates of the Caribbean.
- In the first draft of the The Curse of the Black Pearl's screenplay, before Governor Weatherby Swann goes to barricade himself in Commodore Norrington's office, the cursed pirates began invading the fort over the far wall. Governor Swann found himself face-to-face with Koehler, a handsome blond man with gold earrings, who grinned and raised a cutlass before being blocked by Norrington's sword.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (junior novelization)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Complete Visual Guide
Notes and references
- The timeline established in On Stranger Tides (which takes place in 1750) and Dead Men Tell No Tales (which takes place in 1751) sets the events of The Curse of the Black Pearl around 1728. However, the exact placement still has to be officially confirmed by The Walt Disney Company.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Complete Visual Guide, p.26-27: "Pirates Beware!"
- Wordplay: Pirates of the Caribbean first draft screenplay