As Governor Weatherby Swann, his 12-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, and Lieutenant James Norrington sail to Port Royal, Jamaica, their vessel encounters a shipwreck with an unconscious survivor, the young Will Turner. Elizabeth hides a gold medallion that Will is wearing, fearing it will identify him as a pirate. She glimpses a ghostly pirate ship, later identified as the Black Pearl.
Eight years later, Norrington is promoted to Commodore. He proposes to Elizabeth. Before she can answer, her over-tightened corset causes her to faint and fall into the bay. When the medallion she is wearing touches the seafloor, it emits a small shockwave throughout the entire ocean, and the wind changes to blowing towards Port Royal.
Pirate Captain Jack Sparrow arrives in Port Royal to steal a ship. He rescues Elizabeth, but Norrington recognizes Jack as a pirate and orders his arrest. Jack ducks into a blacksmith's shop, encountering Will Turner, now an apprentice. After a sword duel between the two, Jack is knocked unconscious and jailed, to be hanged the next day. That night Port Royal is besieged by the Pearl, answering the medallion's pulse. Elizabeth is captured and invokes parley. She negotiates for the pirates to stop attacking Port Royal in exchange for the medallion and claims to Captain Barbossa that her surname is Turner. Barbossa agrees but keeps Elizabeth prisoner, believing she is the key to breaking a curse they are under.
Will, who loves Elizabeth, suggests making a deal with Jack Sparrow to lead them to the Black Pearl, but Norrington refuses. Will persuades Jack to help him rescue her in exchange for Jack's freedom. Jack agrees after learning Will's surname is Turner, believing he can use Will to reclaim the Pearl. Will and Jack commandeer the HMS Interceptor and recruit a crew in Tortuga with help from Jack's old friend, Joshamee Gibbs. They set sail for Isla de Muerta, as Jack knows the pirates will go there to break the curse.
Will learns Jack was once captain of the Pearl, questing for Aztec gold, when Barbossa, Jack's first mate at the time, mutinied and marooned him on an island. Following the Pirate Code, Barbossa gave Jack a pistol with a single shot, intended for suicide. Jack escaped three days later and kept the pistol for ten years; saving the bullet to kill Barbossa. The pirates spent the treasure but learned it was cursed, turning them into immortal skeletal beings whose true forms are revealed in moonlight. The curse can be lifted if the coins and each pirate's blood is returned to the chest. William "Bootstrap Bill" Turner, Jack's only supporter, sent a coin to his son, Will, believing the crew should remain cursed. Barbossa had Bootstrap tied to a cannon and thrown overboard, only later to learn his blood was needed to break the curse.
At Isla de Muerta, Barbossa, believing Elizabeth is Bootstrap's child, anoints the last coin with her blood and drops it into the chest, but the curse remains unbroken. After reaching the island, Will suspects Jack may betray him and knocks him out. He rescues Elizabeth and they escape to the Interceptor, leaving Jack behind. Jack barters with Barbossa, offering Bootstrap Bill's child in exchange for the Pearl, but Barbossa rejects his offer and pursues the Interceptor. Barbossa's crew sinks the Interceptor and imprisons the crew. Will reveals he is Bootstrap Bill's son and demands that Elizabeth and the crew be freed, or he will shoot himself and fall overboard, foiling Barbossa's plan to break the curse. Barbossa agrees but applies another loophole, marooning Elizabeth and Jack on the same island Jack had been marooned on ten years earlier. Will is taken to Isla de Muerta, to be killed to break the curse. Elizabeth discovers how Jack escaped: the island was used as a cache by rum runners and Jack bartered passage.
Elizabeth burns the cache of rum to create a fire that Norrington's ship spots. She convinces Norrington to rescue Will by accepting his marriage proposal. Returning to Isla de Muerta, Norrington sets an ambush while Jack persuades Barbossa to form an alliance. He tells him to delay breaking the curse until they have taken Norrington's ship, the Dauntless. Jack's plan goes awry when Barbossa orders his crew to infiltrate the Dauntless from underwater. Meanwhile, Elizabeth sneaks on board the Pearl and frees Jack's crew. They leave with the Pearl while Elizabeth heads to the island alone and saves Will while Jack battles Barbossa, who reveals that he stole one of the medallions for himself in case such an encounter did arise.
Norrington spots his ship under attack and orders his men to return. They reach the ship and attack the cursed pirates. When Barbossa attempts to kill Elizabeth, Jack shoots Barbossa as Will drops the last two medallions, stained with his and Jack's blood, into the chest. No longer immortal, Barbossa collapses and dies. The now-mortal pirates aboard the Dauntless surrender.
At Port Royal, Will attempts to rescue Jack from hanging. Both are captured. Jack jumps into the ocean and swims to the newly-repaired Black Pearl. Will is pardoned and allowed to marry Elizabeth. The crew pulls Jack aboard from the water, appointing him captain. The film ends with Jack looking at his compass while singing "A Pirate's Life for Me".
Read more about this topic: Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl
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