Thursday, June 25, 2009

Movies that Should have been Workshopped: Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End

I took a creative writing workshop my last semester in college and in workshop we read through each other’s stories to identify strengths and weaknesses in plot and character, and to make sure everything makes sense and make sure everything jives throughout the piece. It’s very easy as a writer to read right past things that are lacking, because you know them in your head and you forget that your audience is not, in fact, in your head, and they do not know what you know. The workshop process allows you to see what the reader doesn’t know. I’ve discovered, however, that not all creative pieces, be they works of fiction or film, do not go through this workshop process, because sometimes there are plot holes you could drive a Mack truck through.

Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World’s End:

Speaking of movies with plot holes you could drive a Mack Truck through, PotC 3: AWE is definitely a movie that is trying to sell me a pile of goods that I’m not buying. I’m not talking about the fact that the world isn’t really flat, or that flipping the ship gets them out of world’s end, or Davy Jones’ heart, or even Calypso growing to be like 30 feet tall. These are things that my ability to suspend disbelief allows me to accept. I am able to accept that within the world of Pirates of the Caribbean, women can grow to enormous sizes and that mermaids exist (that’s in the scene in Singapore in case you missed it).

My problems with not believing PotC 3 is in the end, when Will takes over Davy’s job and takes his father with him, but leaves Elizabeth behind (sorry if you haven’t seen it...). With the DVD release there is a little booklet that offers an explanation for this (“Will’s father is not alive—he and all the crewmen on the Dutchman are in a state between the living and the dead. Elizabeth will not survive the journeys where the ship must travel—so she is not able to join the crew”), which acknowledges that they, too, see the problems in the film.

Their explanation, however, offers some problems. The crew of the Dutchman cannot be wholly undead, because Will was able to survive after he was on the ship the first time in Dead Man’s Chest. And in DMC when Jones is raiding the ship for dead after the battle, he is only able to take those that are not dead yet, and they become part of his crew. They are not undead, they are alive. And if Davy Jones, and later Will Turner, has power over making the alive into the undead without them dying first (as is evidenced by both Will and Jack’s presence on the ship at various points in DMC), why couldn’t he bring Elizabeth with him as well as his father?

And just for the record, the rest of the crew was set free after Jones’ death, so Bootstrap Bill is Will’s crew.

Also, with Elizabeth being the Pirate Queen, couldn’t she just hang out after various pirate battles and wait for Will to show up to collect the dead and then spend a little quality time with her honey on the Dutchman? Just because Will can’t be on land doesn’t mean that Elizabeth can’t be on the ship for small periods of time.

This just goes to show that no matter how much disbelief you ask your audience to suspend, and how much their willing to suspend, that you have to maintain a sense of continuity within the universe you’ve created of your audience won’t believe it.

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