Greatest Movie Series
Franchises of All Time
The "Pirates of the Caribbean" Films

Pirates of the Caribbean:
On Stranger Tides (2011)

Pirates of the Caribbean Films
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) | Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006)
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007) | Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)

The "Pirates of the Caribbean" Films

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
d. Rob Marshall, 137 minutes

Film Plot Summary

The film opened, off the coast of Spain, with the netted discovery by fishermen of a grizzled, bearded sailor. The castaway was rushed from the harbor by carriage to Cadiz, Spain, to the royal palace of King Ferdinand (Sebastian Armesto). The retrieved sailor whispered the words "Ponce de Leon" to the King, and gave him a logbook with archaic symbols. [He had sailed with Ponce de Leon, who had died 200 years earlier, searching for the fabled 'Fountain of Youth.'] The King ordered his trusted Spaniard (Óscar Jaenada) to sail with the next tide.

The next scene was set in London, where a pirate execution was scheduled to occur, after a speedy trial in the Old Bailey courtroom. The prisoner was Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), dubbed "the notorious and infamous pirate, pillager, and highwayman." Sparrow's longtime crew-member Joshamee Gibbs (Kevin R. McNally) was mistaken as Sparrow. In disguise as a judge (after binding and gagging the real judge), Sparrow appeared in the court as Justice Smith and presided - he commuted Gibbs' sentence and ordered him to be imprisoned for life. During the transport of the prisoner to the Tower of London, Sparrow joined Gibbs in the prison carriage. Rumors were that Jack was to recruit crewmembers for his lost ship the Black Pearl on a voyage to find the 'Fountain of Youth', later that evening at the Captain's Daughter pub. When the carriage halted, the two found themselves prisoners at the St. James' Palace. Jack was dragged by royal guards to meet with King George II (Richard Griffiths), who knew of his proposed journey and wished to compete with the Spanish monarch to get there first. The King introduced the Captain of his sponsored expedition - peg-legged Crown privateer Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush). Sparrow's "beloved Pearl" had been lost in battle ("I lost the Pearl as I lost my leg"), and Barbossa had been commissioned to sail in the HMS Providence.

Sparrow executed an elaborate escape from the palace, jumping from one carriage to another in the muddy London streets (one of the carriages held a noblewoman (Dame Judi Dench in a brief cameo)). He was saved from being shot by one of the guards by his father, Captain Teague (Keith Richards). That evening in the Captain's Daughter pub, Jack's father told him about some of the items required at the Fountain of Youth for "the profane ritual" - two silver chalices from Ponce de Leon's ship. Teague also warned: "The Fountain will test you." In the back storeroom of the pub, Jack confronted an imposter who was recruiting crew members under his name. He revealed the person's identity during a stalemate sword duel - the mysterious and beautiful Angelica (Penélope Cruz), a former lover. Supposedly in the past, she was taking her vows in a Spanish convent in Seville when he had corrupted and seduced her, left her, and stolen years of her life. During their argument, the King's royal guards interrupted them and further fighting ensued. The two escaped by dropping down through a trap door into the River Thames. After they swam ashore, they discussed the "ritual" required at the Fountain. She added that a mermaid was also needed. He passed out from a dart shot at him from her associate. Meanwhile, Gibbs was held in the Tower of London's courtyard, where Captain Barbossa threatened him with hanging unless he divulged useful information. Gibbs showed off a map to the Fountain of Youth (with every route and destination) that he had memorized. He then burned the valuable document - forcing Barbossa to recruit him into his crew.

Captain Jack awoke, many days later, imprisoned onboard the "vessel of infamy" - the Queen Anne's Revenge - notorious pirate Blackbeard's (Ian McShane) ship, sailing westward. One of Jack's fellow crew-members, forced to work on deck with him, was Scrum (Stephen Graham), who told Jack that all of Blackbeard's "ill-tempered" officers were zombified to make them more compliant. Missionary Philip Swift (Sam Claflin) was strung up on the ship's mast after his capture during a raid. The First Mate of the ship was none other than Angelica, who had conned Blackbeard into thinking she was his long-lost daughter. She told him of the Quarter Master's prophecy that compelled Blackbeard to hurriedly search for the Fountain of Youth: "Blackbeard will meet his death within a fortnight at the hands of a one-legged man."

Meanwhile, onboard the HMS Providence, Gibbs instructed Captain Barbossa about their proper direction toward the Fountain, just as three Spanish galleons were sailing towards them - but then passed by without firing. (Barbossa: "The Fountain is the prize. It appears we be not even worth the time it'd take to sink us.") Barbossa feared they were falling behind in the race. Below the Revenge's decks in the evening, Jack Sparrow proposed "mutiny most foul" - to take over the ship and its deadly course. During an on-deck mutinous battle, Angelica joined the rebellious crew, and Philip was rescued from the mast. But when Jack thought they had triumphed ("The ship is ours"), Blackbeard appeared from his cabin and magically (with his sword) hanged the mutinous crew with the ship's rigging, although Jack and Philip weren't harmed. The cook was punished as the scapegoat, and as he fled in a longboat, he was incinerated by Blackbeard's command - blasts from the ship's fire-cannons.

In Blackbeard's cabin, Jack was given a private audience with the pirate - and tortured via a voodoo doll to comply. Jack was unable to convince Blackbeard of Angelica's duplicity, and he was forced to reconsider his position to help lead Blackbeard to the Fountain, to aid his quest on the "hell-bound vessel" before the captain's prophesied death. On the deck of the HMS Providence, Barbossa announced their destination to the fearful crew - Whitecap Bay, home of mermaids ("sea ghouls, devil fish, dreadful in hunger for flesh of man"), and urged them to have courage for the King's mission.

Later, on board Blackbeard's ship, Angelica provided details of the Fountain's "profane ritual" to Jack - three ingredients were required so that "you may take all the years of life from another":

  • Fountain of Youth water
  • a Mermaid's "shimmering tear" - and it had to be "fresh"
  • Ponce de Leon's two Silver Chalices - "One cup with a tear, one without...Both get water, one gets a tear. The person who drinks the water with the tear gets all the years of life from the other...All the years that they have lived and they could have lived, if fate had been kinder"

She also described how "the ritual requires a victim." Although Angelica vowed to help her true father, Blackbeard, Jack warned that treacherous Blackbeard would kill her given the chance. Blackbeard's crew arrived first at Whitecap Bay, searching for a mermaid from which they would need a single tear. They spread out nets, fired up the light in a lighthouse to draw in the mermaids, then sent out several longboats as further bait to attract them. Scrum began singing "My Jolly Sailor Bold" - and a single seductive mermaid (Gemma Ward) appeared to him, followed by more swimming creatures that surrounded their boat. Soon, the vicious mermaids launched a deadly attack on the crewmen, many of whom were dragged down into the water and drowned. Jack Sparrow saved everyone from a full-scale slaughter by blowing up the lighthouse, causing the mermaids to retreat, but one young frightened mermaid (Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey) was left behind and captured.

Afterwards, the HMS Providence arrived at Whitecap Bay, where Barbossa and some of his crew in a landing party discovered the aftermath of the prior attack. They watched from afar as the mermaids attacked the crew left on the ship - and sank it. The few remaining crew members followed after Gibbs and Barbossa. Meanwhile, Blackbeard's group of survivors also journeyed on land - a jungle trek to the interior of the island, carrying their prized mermaid in a glass coffin, and following a path to the chalices. They were guided by Sparrow (with a mystical compass), who was leading them to the shipwrecked Santiago, Ponce de Leon's ship, to retrieve the chalices. When they came to the edge of a steep cliff, Sparrow announced the distance remaining to get to the Fountain - they were "a day's march north following that river. You'll get to a series of pools, then you're close." Sparrow's compass was confiscated, and then he was forced to jump off the cliff to proceed alone to the ship (he was convinced to jump after his voodoo doll was thrown first), while everyone else continued on to the Fountain. At the same time, Barbossa was being led by Gibbs through the jungle. After trekking through the jungle and onto a stretch of deserted beach, Jack spotted the Santiago on the edge of a mountain cliff, and then began the long climb to get to it.

In Blackbeard's group, the mermaid's glass tank fell to the ground and smashed, and she rolled out - her tail turned into a pair of frail human legs. Philip, who was beginning to fall in love with the lovely creature, covered her naked and panting body with his shirt and volunteered to carry her. Rather than refer to her as a "dark creature," Philip gave her the name of Syrena. Jack approached the Santiago and entered, where he was confronted by Barbossa, who had gotten there earlier. They had to work together to balance the ship to prevent it from teeter-tottering and sliding off its precarious perch. They found Ponce de Leon's corpse, and a box emptied of the chalices. The Spanish had arrived first and stolen them, and then proceeded to their camp at Fort San Miguel. Sparrow joined with Barbossa (and his crew) to continue onto the location of the Spaniards together, to try and retake the two chalices.

Meanwhile, Blackbeard had arrived at the series of pools, where others had vainly attempted to procure tears from the watery half-human creatures by slowly murdering them. To harvest Syrena's tears, the pirate suggested torture to force her to cry from pain. Seeing that Philip fancied Syrena, he commanded his Quarter Master to kill Philip - to cause Syrena to cry, but the plan failed. Shortly after they had left and tied up Syrena to leave her to die, Philip roused himself, removed a knock-out dart from his chest, and rushed to Syrena's side. Amazed that he had survived and was freeing her, she gratefully smiled at him and let one tear of joy fall from her eye. It was caught in a vial by Blackbeard's crew when they reappeared. Then she was left to perish with the other mermaids at the pools ("Secure her bonds - we leave her with her own").

At the Spaniards' camp where they had infiltrated, Barbossa and Sparrow stole the two chalices, but as they snuck away, the two were spotted, surrounded, captured and tied to separate palm trees. While they were bound and drinking rum from his peg-leg, Barbossa told of his vengeful feelings for Blackbeard for attacking and taking The Black Pearl off the coast of Hispaniola, and for causing him to lose his leg. His aim was not really to find the Fountain of Youth, but to avenge Blackbeard (by stabbing him through the heart with his sword covered with poison from his collection of dart-frogs). Through Jack's clever skill of improvisation, he tied up the Spanish soldiers and they escaped with the chalices. When Jack met up with Blackbeard, he bargained to turn over the chalices under certain conditions: (1) No harm to Angelica, (2) Return of his compass, and (3) Freedom for First Mate Gibbs. The chalices were exchanged, and Jack gave the compass to Gibbs, vowing: "This will lead you to freedom, mate."

Blackbeard's search party, led by Jack, continued onwards and came upon a cave entrance marked with an archaic symbol. They waded through knee-deep water and lit their way with torches in the cavern before coming to a dead end. Jack held up the two chalices, and clinked them together to create a tone - but nothing happened. He read the two inscriptions on the chalices: " Vida," causing a low rumbling sound. Flowing water surrounded them in the chamber and opened a passageway in the ceiling. He and the others were raised up to the majestic Fountain of Youth location, where they discovered that Barbossa had already arrived. He challenged Blackbeard by declaring him a prisoner of the King of England, for the crimes of "piracy, treason, murder, torture of the most heinous sort, including the brutal theft of one used, twisted, hairy right leg."

A major conflict between the two sides commenced when the two captains clashed swords. During the fighting, Philip was stabbed in the side, and although mortally wounded, he rushed away to free Syrena from her bonds. Both Jack and Angelica battled for possession of the chalices and the vial with the mermaid's tear. And then the Spaniards marched into the area, led by the Spaniard. He snatched the two chalices from Angelica, and spoke out: "Only God can grant eternal life. Not this pagan water." He crushed the two chalices with his boot, tossed them into a pool of water, and ordered his soldiers to destroy "this profane temple." As Blackbeard attempted to protest the Fountain's destruction, he was stabbed through the abdomen by Barbossa's poisoned sword ("For the Pearl"). When Angelica attempted to help her father and remove the sword, she sliced her left palm and was poisoned too. Barbossa grabbed Blackbeard's sword and exclaimed as he departed: "I claim Blackbeard's ship and crew and this sword, payment for my missing limb!" As the Fountain was demolished (before the Spaniards left), Jack scrambled to locate the two submerged chalices.

Suddenly, Syrena emerged from under the pool of water and handed the two chalices to Jack: "Do not waste my tear." He filled each chalice with drops of Fountain water (before the source dried up) and added Syrena's tear to one of them. He rushed to the dying Angelica and Blackbeard, telling them: "I cannot save you both. One of you must sacrifice." Blackbeard selfishly chose the chalice with the tear (the one that "gives life"), while Angelica drank from the other. And then Jack confessed he may have switched the two cups: "It might have been the other way around." Blackbeard accused Jack of being a "trickster" and a "devil." Angelica's hand wound healed, as the Fountain's waters swirled around Blackbeard's feet and rushed at him - his flesh was shredded off his skeletal frame when he perished.

To reunite with Philip (who was rapidly dying), Syrena swam back to him. Philip claimed she had brought him peace and renewed his faith. She offered to save him, while Philip asked her for forgiveness:

Philip: "My mind is at peace...because of you."
Syrena: "Me?"
Philip: "Yes. I was lost. The wind, the tides, they ought to renew a man's faith. But for me, only you."
Syrena: "Philip, I can save you. You need only ask."
Philip: "I seek but one thing."
Syrena: "What is that?"
Philip: "Forgiveness. If not for me, you would never have been captured."
Syrena: "Ask."
Philip: "Forgive me."

After they kissed, she took him under the water to be with her forever.

The film concluded with Jack rowing the untrustworthy Angelica via longboat to Sola Fide Beach, to maroon her there, with only a pistol and one bullet. He feared that she still held a grudge against him for leading her into a life of piracy, and that she would seek revenge for her father's death. Although she made every effort to escape with him (she vowed she desperately loved him and told him it wasn't over yet), she was stranded, after a missed attempt to fire at him with her only shot. Meanwhile, Captain Barbossa quit his privateering for the British, returned to piracy, and claimed Blackbeard's ship Queen Anne's Revenge as his own. With Blackbeard's powerful, vibrating pirate sword, he set sail for Tortuga.

Jack was reunited with the freed Gibbs on a sandy Caribbean beach. His First Mate had used the compass to locate the shrunken Black Pearl, encased in miniature within a bottle, and located in Blackbeard's cabin (along with all the other bottled ships, held in a bag). Although they tried, they couldn't extract Jack's former ship from the bottle. Jack suggested that they travel onward: "We shall need a crossbow, an hourglass, three goats. One of us must learn to play the trumpet whilst the other one goes like this" - he wiggled his fingers. As they strolled along, Jack explained that he was happy that he didn't take advantage of the Fountain's powers:

"Better to not know which moment may be your last. Every morsel of your entire being alive to the infinite mystery of it all. And who's to say I won't live forever, eh? Discoverer of the Fountain of Youth. I have no say in it, Gibbs. It's a pirate's life for me. Savvy?"

In the short epilogue, Angelica was alone, stranded on the island, during sunset. The voodoo doll washed up onto the shore. She smiled, with the doll (and Jack's fate) in her hands.

Film Notables (Awards, Facts, etc.)

It was the first POTC film not directed by Gore Verbinski.

This sequel film, the fourth film in the entire series, took place several years after the battle in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007). Whether it would be the start of a new trilogy was unclear.

With a production budget of $250 million.

The film grossed $241 million (domestic) and $1,044 million (worldwide). It was the second Pirates film to make one billion dollars (worldwide) from ticket sales. The first of the Pirates films to do so was the second film in the original trilogy, Dead Man's Chest (2006). However, its domestic ticket grosses put it in 4th place behind the three previous films.

Set-pieces: Jack's escape from the King's palace, the swordfights in the Captain's Daughter pub, the Whitecap Bay skirmish with the mermaids, the conflict at the Fountain of Youth between forces of Barbossa and Blackbeard.

King Ferdinand
(Sebastian Armesto)

The Spaniard
(Óscar Jaenada)

Joshamee Gibbs
(Kevin R. McNally)

Captain Jack Sparrow
(Johnny Depp)

King George II
(Richard Griffiths)

Captain Hector Barbossa
(Geoffrey Rush)

Captain Teague
(Keith Richards)

(Penélope Cruz)

(Stephen Graham)

Philip Swift
(Sam Claflin)

Blackbeard, aka Edward Teach
(Ian McShane)

(Gemma Ward)

Mermaid - Syrena
(Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey)

Greatest Film Series Franchises - Sections
Series-Introduction - Index to All Films | Series-Box Office

Previous Page Next Page