Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

      Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest              Special Effect: The creation of Davy Jones and his crew

         Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest is a fantastic, visually stimulating movie with computer-generated images, which aid in bringing the film to life. A specific special effect that caught my eye was the creation of the terrifying Davy Jones and his crew of servitude. If you haven’t seen the movie, the picture above should give you an idea of what I am referencing. These men use to be pirates, but promised years of servitude to avoid death, only to eventually become part of the crew, sea, and ship, as seen by their fish like characteristics. Special effects, in any movie, can make or break a film’s popularity and ticket sales by wither being too cheesy, too fake, or being too overdone. The studio must take into account how the special effects appeal to the appeals ethos, pathos, and logos, all while finding the right balance to not hinder the believability of the film.
         The computer-generated images of Davy Jones and his crew definitely added to the ethos of the film. In Understanding Movies, Louis Giannetti argues that when actors perform in front of a green screen, their “acting is often cold and mechanical,” whereas “human subtleties can be found in scenes where performers are actually acting” (34). This very reason is why Pirates of the Caribbean, the entire series, is so successful and credible. Real people, actors, play Davy Jones and his crew during filming. They are not digitally added in later while one actor acts without anything there but a green screen.  However, the actors do not wear their “fish outfits” during filming. The men wear sensors, so that the special effects of being one with the sea can be added later. The actors have a voice and are actually being filmed, therefore increasing the believability and not hindering the film. In Everything’s an Argument by Lunsford and Ruszkiewicz, the authors discuss that ethos can be strengthened by “visually [conveying] the image as effectively as possible” (60). Disney does this by including real actors and not creating the character completely from scratch with the help of computers and computer-generated images. It is the acting combined with the computer-generated images that enhances the movie and brings the film to life.
         Along with the credibility from the acting, the special effects for Davy Jones and his crew enhanced the movie through an emotional appeal. When Will Turner, the respectable pirate and lover, first boards Davy Jones’ ship, the audience sees many disturbing images. Lunsford and Ruszkiewicz state that arguments seek “to rouse an emotion that will make [the audience] well disposed toward a particular message” (40). As mentioned earlier, the crew on the ship work and are tortured to ultimately avoid death for a few more years. The audience knows that ship is a bad place to be when they see the terrifying faces of the crew, enhanced by digital effects. Many relate to Will Turner and fear for his life and his future, as if they were standing right next to him on the ship. Lunsford and Ruszkiewicz also argue that emotions advance the claims presented (105). The audience observes that many of the men have adopted cruel attitudes or are extremely sad and basically wish to die. These computer-enhanced images evoke a feeling of sympathy in the audience for the poor men who Davy Jones tricked into a life a slavery just to avoid death.
         Lastly, this special effect for Davy Jones and his crew enhances the film through logos. Anyone with common sense knows the plot is fictional and that the plot must be though of in a fictional light. However, the special effects in Pirates of the Caribbean do enhance the believability of an already unbelievable plot. Everything’s an Argument sates that “some of the assumptions in an argument will be based on shared values derived from culture and history” (Lunsford and Ruszkiewicz 87). Based on cultural norms, the audience concludes the fish people are evil from their grotesque sea features, pointy teeth, and lack of human resemblance. If the men had been ordinary pirates, the audience would have been upset and less likely to believe the eminent danger and suspense throughout the entire movie. Lunsford and Ruszkiewicz also argued that visual elements could enhance or even make a case (459). The audience assumes that the studio is not actually blowing up ships and polluting the ocean in the process, as the whole situation would be silly and costly. However, many of the scenes do have real sets, with big ships and real water, which still cost money, but therefore makes the entire film more believable.
         In conclusion, the use of computer-generated images to create the characteristics of Davy Jones and his crew in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest enhanced the film. Audiences and myself believed the acting of Davy Jones and his crew, were scared when we first encountered the crew with Will Turner like we were on the ship, and believed the danger that was eminent in the scenes. I will admit, I am biased and I love the series. However, I do believe the studio found the perfect balance. The special effects were not over the top, but they were not cheesy either. Disney definitely hit the jackpot and created a fan out of a middle school girl who now loves to dress up as a pirate and has a Jack Sparrow life size cutout in her room! The special effects enhanced the movie and I give the use of special effects in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest 4 out of 5 buckets.  

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