My Favorite Part of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man”™s Chest

by Revena

I don’t really want to talk about whether or not Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest is a good movie. I’ll just leave it at this - I enjoyed it, in the way that one can enjoy a summer action film while still finding aspects of the setting, story, and execution deeply problematic.

Some parts, of course, were much more enjoyable than others. Like, pretty much every line of former-Commodore James Norrington’s dialogue, for example. That has more to do with my huge crush on Jack Davenport’s voice than with the script, but hey! Enjoyment is enjoyment, yes?

But for all the time I spent ogling Will Turner’s (Orlando Bloom) sword-work and Captain Jack Sparrow’s (Johnny Depp) eyeliner, and swooning over everything Norrington said, my favorite part of the movie was really Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley).

Now, it is assuredly possible to craft a feminist critique that will say some very harsh things about Swann - that all of her difficult decisions seem to revolve around which men to kiss and which to betray, for example, is the sort of thing that makes me twitchy - but there is one thing about the character which I will always love.

She totally uses swords in this film! Two swords at once! And a gun! Swann does her fair share of problem-solving through quick thinking, talking, and trickery, but when the situation calls for a physical fight, she’s up for that, too.

This is still a fairly unusual thing for female characters in fantasy films, though it’s on the rise. I’m thrilled to see a character who is as competent in a fight as Elizabeth Swann in the (relatively) mainstream Pirates of the Caribbean films. And whatever else I may find problematic or distasteful about these films, I will always have a special fondness for Swann’s fight scenes.

Now if only people would start making fantasy films with more than one physically competent main female character in them”¦

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8 Responses to “My Favorite Part of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man”™s Chest

  1. scarlett Says:

    I wrote my own article about POTC:DMC which intersects with your article (basically, we think Swann is the besth thing about it!). Great minds thiing alike?

  2. Revena Says:

    Probably a combination of “great minds” and the fact that there’s really only one other female character that one could write about (which is one of the things I disliked about the film). ;-)

  3. Kameron Hurley Says:

    Yea, the only other female character is a bit of a racial stereotype… I mean, this is fantasy fiction, but I do often wonder where all the women in this world are.

    I did love that not only did Swann fight, but they had the sense to give her a one-liner that made it plausible that she knew how to fight, when she says Will taught her how. That was an explanation I could totally buy; particularly when looking at their relationship.

  4. Ifritah Says:

    I almost cheered in the movie theatre when she twisted both swords around to stab two guys at once behind her.

    Well, there were actually a couple of places I wanted to cheer for her that works for this, but that one’s my favorite.

  5. Revena Says:

    Yes, I also thought it was really nice that they added a little explanation so that Swann’s mad sword skillz made sense with the internal logic of the film - even though the line was delivered in a rather sexualized way (I’ve got nothing against double entendre, but it’d be nice to see Swann get a few lines of dialogue in -without- reminding the viewer that her primary plot purpose seems to be as a source of sexual tension).

    But, seriously, where -are- all the other ladies? Don’t evil merchant types keep mistresses, anymore? And in a universe where Davy Jones is part cephalopod, why can’t we have more girl pirates?

  6. Revena Says:

    The fight scenes were pure awesome. Pure. Awesome.

    And I’ve already got a little cross-dressing Elizabeth Swan action figure sitting here on my computer desk, right next to Eowyn.

  7. k Says:

    Note from BetaCandy: This is irrelevant, and reminds me of a mean-spirited comment last week that caused me to ban someone.  Hmm.

    im just saying this. . . the movie was good and everything but all the mistakes Keira knightley character had u think she would do a cut and redo, specially since u can tell her real hair from her fake and wether or not her hair is wet or not and other things

  8. Revena Says:

    Continuity issues, while certainly worth discussing in the context of whether or not a film succeeds as a whole, don’t have a lot of bearing on what I was talking about, though.

    Unless you’re saying that Keira Knightley made mistakes during the swordfighting sequences. If she did, I didn’t catch them on the first viewing.

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