Viewers reckon Pirates of the Caribbean has one of the most ‘masterfully executed’ red herrings ever
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Pirates of the Caribbean fans have insisted the franchise's first film has one of the greatest misdirections in film history. No, really.
I think it is fair to say the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise was a lot better than it was expected to me back in the early 2000s.
Most people didn’t have high hopes for a whole film based of a Disneyland ride, understandably.
But Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl was a box office hit and started a booming franchise.
What is a red herring in the context of cinema? It is essentially anything in the film that misleads or distracts the audience from the larger picture.
So, for example, think about the fear and conversations surrounding Sirius Black in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
He is painted as a great villain out to get Harry when in actuality he is a victim and is attempting to protect his godson. That would be an example of a good red herring.
However, sometimes they are just used for good jokes or some foreshadowing for the film going forward.
In Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, there is some emphasis put on Orlando Bloom’s Will Turner character being a blacksmith and making a sword for Jonathan Pryce’s Governor Swann.
Only for this misdirection to play into a brilliant joke a few scenes later with Keira Knightly’s Elizabeth Swann.
On a Reddit post growing in popularity, one user said: “Saw a fantastic post earlier about movies that violated 'Chekhov's gun' and thought we should go the exact opposite way. What are the most masterfully executed "Red Herrings" you've ever seen in a film?”
Chekhov’s gun is a basic principle that, in the famous Russian playwright's own words, goes like this: "If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there."
Responding to the prompt, one user replied: “Pirates of the Caribbean - Curse of the Black Pearl.
“The opening pan of the governor’s office stops on a crest and paired swords over the fireplace, visually keying a Chekov’s Gun.
"When Elizabeth grabs the swords [later in the film], it is revealed to be just a display piece with the sword welded to the back of the crest and completely useless.”
Another added: “I'd argue Will being a blacksmith and delivering a sword to the Governor added to the joke.
"It's established that the Governor has an appreciation for real swords as symbols of status, to the degree he has one made special for Norrington's promotion.”
Well, who would have thought Pirates of the Caribbean would pull off a narrative masterclass.