Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is a 2011 adventure fantasy film and the fourth installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Gore Verbinski, who had directed the three previous films, was replaced by Rob Marshall, while Jerry Bruckheimer again served as producer.
In the film, which draws inspiration from the novel On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is joined by Angelica (Penélope Cruz) in his search for the Fountain of Youth, confronting the infamous pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane). The film was distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, and had its theatrical debut in release dates falling within May 18 and May 20, 2011. The release was presented in Disney Digital 3-D and IMAX 3D, as well as in traditional two-dimensional and IMAX formats.
Writers Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott first learned of Powers’ novel during the back-to-back production of Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End, and considered it a good starting point for a new movie in the series. Pre-production started after the end of the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, with Johnny Depp collaborating with the writers on the story design. Principal photography rolled for 106 days between June and November 2010, with locations in Hawaii, the United Kingdom, Puerto Rico, and California. Filming employed 3D cameras similar to those used in the production of the 2009 film Avatar, and ten companies were involved with the film’s visual effects.
On Stranger Tides broke many box office records upon release, and it stands as the 8th highest-grossing film of all time worldwide when not adjusting for inflation. Critical reviews were mixed, with the film receiving criticism over the script-writing, excessiveness, and lack of originality; positive mentions were given on the acting, directing and visuals.
After a failed attempt to rescue his first mate, Joshamee Gibbs (Kevin McNally) in London, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is brought before King George II (Richard Griffiths), who wants Jack to guide an expedition to the Fountain of Youth before the Spanish locate it. Heading the expedition is Jack’s old nemesis, Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), now a privateer in service to the Royal Navy after losing his leg and ship, the Black Pearl.
Jack escapes, but his father, Captain Teague (Keith Richards), finds him and warns Jack about the Fountain’s tests. He also reveals that someone is impersonating Jack. The impostor is Angelica (Penélope Cruz), Jack’s former lover and daughter of the ruthless pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane), who practices voodoo magic and, armed with a magical sword, possesses supernatural powers.
Jack is taken aboard Blackbeard’s ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, and forced to lead the way to the Fountain and find two silver chalices that once belonged to Juan Ponce de León, both believed to be aboard his lost ship. The Fountain’s water must be drunk simultaneously from the two chalices. The person drinking from the chalice containing a mermaid’s tear has their life extended, while the other person dies, their life drained from their body and their remaining years ‘donated’ to the other. Meanwhile, Gibbs, having memorized and destroyed Jack’s map, barters with Barbossa to guide him to the Fountain.
Blackbeard seeks the Fountain’s power to circumvent his predestined fatal encounter with “a one-legged man,” and sets a course for Whitecap Bay. There they are attacked by a vicious horde of mermaids, but Blackbeard captures one (Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey). Philip Swift (Sam Claflin), a captive missionary, falls in love with the mermaid and names her Syrena. Blackbeard then sends Jack to retrieve the chalices from de León’s ship.
When Jack finds the grounded, decaying vessel, Barbossa is waiting inside and the Spanish are in possession of the chalices. However, Barbossa only seeks revenge against Blackbeard for capturing the Black Pearl, which forced Barbossa to amputate his own leg to escape. He and Jack join forces to defeat Blackbeard, then head to the nearby Spanish camp to steal the chalices. Meanwhile, Syrena, reciprocating Philip’s love, is tricked into shedding a tear which Blackbeard collects, leaving her to die. Philip is forced to go with him. Jack returns with the chalices and Gibbs, with whom he had reunited while assisting Barbossa. Jack and Blackbeard bargain for Jack’s confiscated magical compass and Gibbs’ release. In return, Jack vows to give Blackbeard the chalices and lead him to the Fountain; Blackbeard agrees and Gibbs departs with the compass.
At the Fountain, Blackbeard and his crew are attacked by Barbossa, and then by the Spanish, there to destroy the Fountain, their king believing its power is an abomination against God. A battle ensues and Barbossa stabs Blackbeard with a poison-laced sword. Angelica accidentally cuts herself while removing it from Blackbeard. Barbossa claims Blackbeard’s magical sword and assumes command, leaving with Blackbeard’s crew. Meanwhile, Philip, though mortally wounded, escapes and returns to free Syrena. After finding the chalices that the Spaniard had tossed into deep water, Syrena gives them to Jack, then retrieves the dying Philip and takes him underwater.
With Blackbeard and Angelica wounded, Jack brings the chalices to them and tries to convince Angelica to drink from the one with the tear; but Blackbeard grabs the chalice from her and drinks from it. He then asks his daughter to sacrifice herself. Angelica agrees and drinks. Knowing that the self-serving Blackbeard would sacrifice his daughter, Jack switched the chalices beforehand. Backbeard’s body is drained by the waters of the Fountain and destroyed. Although Angelica admits her love for Jack, he strands her on an island, knowing that she may want to avenge her father’s death. Barbossa, who now captains the Queen Anne’s Revenge, quits being a privateer and returns to piracy. Jack finds Gibbs, who has used the compass to locate the shrunken Black Pearl and is shown to be in possession of all ships Blackbeard had shrunken in bottles. Hoping to bring the Black Pearl to its original size, the two head off into the sunset, determined to continue living a pirate’s life.
In a post-credits scene, Angelica, still on the island, finds Blackbeard’s voodoo doll of Jack, which has washed ashore.
Learn more about the concepts, principles and symbolism behind the subliminals found in this film: