Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

Composed by Klaus Badelt and the Media Ventures gang

Curse of the Black Pearl, based on the wonderful ride at Disneyworld, is one of the best adventure films I have ever seen, with a lot of wit and good action, not to mention Johnny Depp’s awesome performance as Captain Jack Sparrow (which would unfortunately pigeonhole him into playing off-kilter characters for years). The plot sees Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), the daughter of a governor in the Caribbean, come in possession of a medallion found on castaway boy Will Turner (who grows up to be played by Orlando Bloom). Will Turner grows up to be a blacksmith with a secret love for the upper-class Elizabeth. The pirates, of the ship Black Pearl attack their island town and abscond with the girl and the medallion. Will Turner finds himself partnering with the strange pirate Jack Sparrow and his colorful cast of associates to rescue Elizabeth. It also turns out that the pirates, led by Geoffrey Rush’s Captain Barbossa, are cursed by Aztec gold. The film was a massive success and its soundtrack was certainly popular. When I had just started getting into film music I adored this soundtrack, but with more knowledge it’s proven to be a technically troubling, though still entertaining, product.

Originally director Gore Verbinski was going to have his pal Alan Silvestri write the score. But just a couple of weeks before the film was to be wrapped up, producer Jerry Bruckheimer threw in a monkey wrench by throwing out Silvestri’s music and hiring Hans Zimmer and his Media Ventures to once again produce a loud summer action blockbuster soundtrack. With barely any time, Hans Zimmer created a set of main themes overnight and had Klaus Badelt head the scoring duties, so basically Zimmer is really the mastermind of the whole soundtrack. Badelt would not do most of the work, as he would have over ten other composers help score the film. The result is a fun yet vastly overrated score that has unjustly been lodged in the public mind as an equal to John Williams’ Star Wars and Howard Shore’s Lord of the Rings. Continue reading