FROM "THE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL"
WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS!
One of the many things that I used to love so much when I was a kid is pirates. I would always dream of sailing the high seas on a ship and search for treasure on tropical Islands, and maybe get into a few sword fights with my rivals, as I would wear cool pirate clothing and talk tough and salty. I would also love hearing the tales of fictional pirates like Long John Silver and Captain Hook, or hearing legends of real pirates like Blackbeard and Captain Kidd. I just loved them so much! And when the first "Pirates Of The Caribbean" film was released, that was based off of a ride I was too afraid to go on as a kid (Hey I loved pirates, but that doesn't necessarily mean my young mind wasn't afraid of them on occasions) I was hyped. When I saw it in theaters I was blown away by it, and I watched the film (and the Bonus Feature that showed old footage of the ride) countless times when I got it on DVD. And while my love for pirates isn't the same as it was when I was young, I still think the movie and everything about it is kickass, including the villain.
I put Barbossa higher than Captain Hook because even though Hook was crazy, menacing, fun, and had some class to him, he came off more as a Saturday Morning cartoon villain instead of feeling like an actual pirate, not to mention the countless times that he’s been pushed and kicked around by a boy, a crocodile, and his own assistant. And yes I know he's animated, but Disney has already made dark and serious villains before him (such as the Stepmother from "Cinderella" and the Wicked Queen from "Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs"), so the silly and slap-sticky scenarios (as funny as they are) should be no excuse to not compare the two pirates in terms of ranking them. Barbossa to me (in terms of Pirate villains made by Disney) has always felt like the real deal. This was a Captain who loved the life of pirate and did almost all the despicable things that pirates are known for. He's very skilled with a sword; enjoys blowing stuff up with his cannons; watches people walk the plank with glee; maroons people on an Island without any second thoughts; will happily take any piece of treasure or gold coin he discovers or comes across; and doesn't mind letting his crew "hoist their colours" on a young woman, even going as far as threatening to strip her from her clothes if she doesn't obey him. Did I mention by the way, that he has no remorse over hitting a woman either if he loses it? He's a pirate so dastardly that even his own crew fears him, not just for being a forceful and strict leader, but also because he has no problem shooting them, or stabbing them with his own sword if they step out of line, cursed or not. There's a scene where the crew is thinking about overthrowing him, and yet when he takes out his sword accepting to fight any crew member that challenges him, they all stop. They show way more fear and respect for their Captain, than Hook's crew ever does, thus helps make Barbossa out to be a pretty damn intimidating leader, and Captain of a ghost like ship that's fast, stealthy, and destructive.
The person they got to play Barbossa is Oscar winning actor Geoffery Rush, and truthfully, if I had to compare who played the most convincing pirate in the film between Johnny Depp and him, I'm sorry but it's definitely Rush who nails it best. Now to be fair, none of them were supposed to be taken that seriously, and their performances of them hamming it up as pirates undoubtedly shows. But the reason why I think Rush comes off as a more convincing pirate than Depp, is because Rush's delivery and presence seems completely natural, and fitting for the period that the film is set, while Depp in many respects is practically just playing a pirate version of himself. Does that make it a bad performance, in my eyes no, it's still one of his greatest performances and characters for how fun, interesting, and adventurous he is. I just find myself buying more of Rush as a pirate, than I do with Depp since he does just such a solid job with his character that it’s almost as if he was destined to play a pirate. The accent, the mannerisms, the way he shouts "arrgh", and how he looks in that fancy pirate clothing and make-up that covers his face with scars, just makes me believe that he's a pirate all the way through without ever thinking once that it's an actor dressed-up to look and act like one.
Even though Barbossa is a savage pirate that is feared by many, he still manages to still carry plenty of elegance and grace, by acting calm and polite to either a kidnapped victim or his rivals during negotiations as he speaks in a soft spoken voice. He's also a man who respects the right of parley in the pirate’s code, despite seeing the code more as "guidelines than the actual rules". But as gentlemen-like as he can be, and will keep his end of the deals he makes, like Hades, he still finds a loop hole after the agreement is made. He promises Elizabeth to stop attacking a town in exchange for a rare gold medallion, but he kidnaps her since bringing her back to shore was not part of their deal. He grants Will Turner's request to let Elizabeth go free, but he maroons her on an Island since Will wasn't specific with where or when they'll let her off the ship. And while being a classy and violent backstabbing pirate, Rush still finds more than enough time for him to play around with the character in such a colorful way. Just the way he laughs, taunts, growls, smiles, and stares are so enjoyable to watch, that like any good actor playing a villain, you get the overall impression that Rush is having a blast portraying this character. The most priceless moment for me is how he rolls his eyes before shooting one of his own crew members to see if the curse is lifted or not.
And speaking of curse, that's another interesting aspect about this villain. Barbossa and his crew may seem like normal pirates, but when seen in the moonlight they appear as undead skeletons since they're cursed by the gold that they took out of an ancient treasure chest. Aside from the CGI effects still looking cool, and their designs coming off as nearly grotesque as the undead Disney villain the Horned King from "The Black Cauldron", the awesome thing about them in their undead form is that they're allowed to spread as much damage and chaos as possible without worrying about being injured or killed. They can be taken apart, and even blown up as skeletons, but they won't necessarily die, nor feel any pain, which makes their chances of fighting against a band of pirates, or an army of British soldiers more than likely victorious, especially when considering the fact that they can walk underwater without drowning, which gives them the advantage to sneak aboard enemy ships. However, the major downside to their immortality is, now that they are undead, they can no longer feel, taste, smell, or eat anything, which are the pleasures in life that they miss having that many people take for-granted. His motivation is to retrieve every gold coin they sold to bring it back to the cursed chest, and pay the heathen gods back in blood (though I don't quite fully grasp why it has to be from a specific person, but whatever its a fantasy). A simple motivation but the lengths that he and his crew go to achieve it are outrageously cruel and extreme.
And when the curse is lifted, the first thing Barbossa plans to do is to eat a whole bushel of apples, which is one of the many comical aspects to the character that I find myself enjoying the most. Judging by how much he obsesses over apples, and that eating them is the number 1 thing that he wants to do when he's given back the rest of his senses, its quite clear that the thing he misses the most when being cursed is the taste of apples. The first time we're introduced to this quirk, is when he offers Elizabeth an apple as she pigs out on the food that they save for when they're free from the curse, which at first she thinks that he's trying to poison her, from the way he holds it and offers it to her as if he was the Queen from “Snow White” in her old hag form. But he actually wants to know how one of the apples tastes before he plans to devour the rest of them when his mission for mortality is complete. He loves and misses them so much, that he even brings an apple with him to the blood ritual so he can just bite it when his transformation is complete. But once the curse is lifted, he unfortunately gets shot by Sparrow. And as he sees the blood ooze out of him, he mutters "I feel cold" and collapses as he drops the apple that he's been holding in his hand, which is no doubt an homage to the death of Charles Foster Kane from "Citizen Kane" due to how the scene is shot and acted.
We all know that some of the best pirates have a parrot on their shoulder, that accompanies his master and serves him wherever he goes. Well, Barbossa certainly doesn't follow that tradition. Instead he has a pet monkey named Jack (which makes you wonder that if he still has a soft spot for Jack Sparrow after marooning him, since he gave his pet the same name). He doesn't fly, or speak, but he's always on the look out for trouble, is very quick in terms of movement, and obeys his master's every commands, and you can tell that Barbossa is quite attached to his monkey the same way that he's attached to his desire to taste apples again. Jack even suffers the curse that his master suffers, which makes him out to be more intimidating in his skeleton form instead of his natural form, which could possibly explain why he took a gold coin out of the cursed chest to be undead once more.
Much like how Hades and Big Boy Caprice had such a large army of villainous characters working for them that I couldn't name them all since the majority of them don't get too much screen-time, the same applies to Barbossa's crew. Much like their Captain, each and every one of them takes the extreme pleasures of doing all the terrible things that pirates do, with their violent behaviors and love for stealing. The only major difference that the crew has between their Captain is, they don't carry the sophisticated qualities that their Captain possesses. They're all filthy and sleazy pirates who barley resists the urge to kill or cause violence of any kind unless their Captain says otherwise.
The first of the many pirates in Barbossa's crew that stand-out to be me the most is Kohler. I'll admit, that I don't remember too much of his personality or what he did, but the reason why I'm mentioning him is that he is the first character to reveal a part of the curse before Barbossa goes into great detail about it and exposes it fully. As well as being the first pirate from Barbossa's crew that we see Jack Sparrow interact with on-screen. Also the costume and dreadlocks have always stood out to me when I think back at Barbossa's crew.
Jacoby is a colorful henchman who has a long black beard, and an everlasting love to blow things up with the multiple grenades that he carries. He's arguably the most reckless member of Barbossa's crew since he loves blowing things up so much. The two comical moments involving the character that stand-out to me are when one of his grenade fails to go-off after throwing it at Will Turner, and when Turner puts one of his own grenades inside his body where he cries "no fair" before exploding.
The most intimidating out of all the members of Barbossa's crew, is his second in command Bo'Sun, a tall and strong bald African pirate with tribal brands on his face and body. He is a no nonsense character who keeps a straight face and speaks in a loud and deep voice to keep the crew and kidnapped victims in-line, as well as using physical force when he feels that it’s necessary. The first scene he appears in, he just slaps Elizabeth in the face to shut her up before Barbossa corrects him. It's moments like this that surprise me that this is a film is made by Disney.
As for the most entertaining members of Barbossa's crew, that would go to Pintel And Ragetti. I'm telling you, it's always the duos working for the villain who stand-out as the most memorable of all the other henchmen. This pair of pirate’s acts like villains you'd see on an old cartoon, or a screwball comedy family flick. Pintel is short and badly tempered who plays himself as the straight member of the duo, as Ragetti is tall and child-like who plays himself out as the comic relief. The best jokes involving Ragetti are the one's that involve his wooden eye, as he would have trouble adjusting it, and would sometimes lose it, or get something sharp stuck inside it. As for Pintel, despite having more scenes of him being violent and menacing (my favorite being when he looks for Elizabeth in her mansion while calling her Poppet just after killing the door man at point blank range), he does get a fun running gag when he would get annoyed at the victims that invokes the right of parley, where he goes from accepting it, to getting irritated by it, to threatening people with death if they think about using that right, to in the end having him try to invoke parley himself when the pirates lose the battle. Considering that these two henchmen are the goofiest member of the crew, it only seems natural that they would get the short end of the stick in terms of treatment from their captain and crew. Rather than joining in a march to a battle against the British, they're instead given the job of playing out as the diversion where they're forced to dress in drag (from the chest full of dresses that they stole thinking that there was gold and jewelry inside it) as two ladies on a rowboat waving hi to their opponents. And the person Barbossa tries to kill to see if the curse is lifted is Ragetti. Much like whenever Barbossa or Sparrow is on-screen that live-up every single scene that they're in, these guy do just the same amount of justice, who are so recognized and admired by fans that they were brought back to appear in the sequels.
Before I give my final thoughts, let's have a little fun and look at the references to the ride that the film was based on, that involves Barbossa and his crew.
In the ride, the first thing we see the Pirates do is fire cannons when they invade the shores of a Caribbean town, as an army fires back, while the Captain yells out orders and refers to the crew as "bloomin' cockroaches".
In the movie Barbossa orders the same thing, when he and his crew first appear in the movie when they attack Port Royal. And later on in the film when they fire against Jack Sparrow's ship, Barbossa refers to the crew as the same name that the Captain yelled on the ride.
Barbossa was later on added to the ride, as he took place of the pirate who once gave the order of attack aboard the ship.
In the ride as you would see dead pirates and gold in the cave, you'd hear them speak about cursed treasure and how you don't believe in the curse.
And that really goes without saying that the talk about cursed gold from dead pirate skeletons became the basis for the premise of this movie.
In the ride the most memorable image from the pirate skeletons we see in the beginning, is the skeleton driving the stirring wheel at the helm.
That image became one of the posters for the movie, as well as having a scene where Elizabeth is being attacked by one of Barbossa's pirates by the wheel when she first see the crew in their undead form.
During the talk about the curse through the dead pirates, we see one drinking a bottle of wine as the wine goes through the ribcage.
The same thing happens when Barbossa gulps down a bottle of wine, when he shows Elizabeth what he looks like undead.
Disney's version of Captain Hook will always have a special place in my heart, but the best villainous pirate that Disney has to offer for me is Captain Barbossa. He's classy, fun, ruthless, is feared by many, makes use out of a curse for his own selfish needs, and has a crew that are so wild and black-hearted aboard a ship that is almost invincible, that you do not want to sail by them when going on a pleasure cruise out on the high-sea. If you think the life of a pirate is for you, think twice before encountering or sailing with this scoundrel, that is if you don't have Depp protecting you.