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Pirates of the Caribbean - At World’s End

posted by Jason Kottke   May 29, 2007

The first paragraph of Dana Stevens’ review of the third installment of Pirates of the Caribbean accurately describes my experience seeing the film:

With Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, the summer blockbuster begins to approach the level of pure abstraction. Adrift in the windless seas of its 168-minute running time, the viewer passes through confusion and boredom into a state of Buddhist passivity. Swords are crossed, swashes buckled, curses lifted only to descend again. People marry, die, come back to life, transform willy-nilly into barnacle-encrusted ghouls. There are reasons why all this is happening, reasons that might be clear if you’ve recently pored over the previous 294 minutes of pirate lore. Like all abstract art, At World’s End is best approached non-narratively, as an experience rather than a story.

What floored me most was how Verbinski managed to splice in several minutes of surrealist film into a circa-2007 summer blockbuster. The contemporary feel of the scene with Depp in Davy Jones’ Locker (the music, white space, the extreme closeups) felt totally out of sync with the rest of the trilogy, but the absurdity of its appearance early in the film helped me surrender to the rest of it and just enjoy the ride.