Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why Is Pirates Of The Caribbean Rated PG-13 And Does The Rating Hold Up Today?

Based on the hit ride at Disneyland, the "Pirates of the Caribbean" film series is one of the most successful franchises of all time, grossing over $4 billion worldwide. With an all-star cast of Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, and Geoffrey Rush, the first film, "The Curse of The Black Pearl" is an action-packed adventure from start to finish.

Because the film is full of pirates, sword fights, and overall swashbuckling excitement, it will definitely appeal to children of all ages. But with the films available on Disney+, it's important to note that it, along with the rest of the films in the series, is PG-13 for scary and violent scenes that might have gone too far, references to — and consumption of — alcoholic beverages, and more. 

"Pirates of the Caribbean" recently celebrated its 20th anniversary in July. Even after two decades, this rating still holds, and parents must take this into consideration before letting their children watch the hit franchise. 

Skeleton pirates may prove too scary

As expected, "Pirates of the Caribbean" has quite a bit of violence. However, it goes much further than pirates fighting over treasure. One of the main aspects of the film is the curse, which haunts the crew of the Black Pearl. The curse isn't fully explored until later in the film when Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) is kidnapped and taken onto the ship. Here, Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) tells her about their predicament, which came about because they stole the sacred treasure of Cortez. As a result, they are forced to turn into skeletons under the moonlight and are unable to eat or drink. There is also a sexual reference when Barbosssa talks about using the gold to pay for pleasurable company.

After Elizabeth leaves the captain's quarters, she is met by the skeletal crew. The scene is intense, as the pirates advance on Elizabeth, who is beside herself with panic. Children might be particularly frightened by Barbossa's cute monkey, who has also been cursed. They may also be shocked to see wine drip out of Barbossa's skeleton body when he tries to drink it. This isn't the only time the crew is seen like this. In fact, it gets even more intense when they fight the Dauntless' men, brutally stabbing them through the chest, and even haunting Governor Swann (Jonathan Pryce) with a disembodied hand.

There is a lot of blood

Aside from skeletal rascals, "Pirates of the Caribbean" has other disturbing moments. The opening scene depicts a ship being blown up, and a young boy nearly dying. There are also sword fights between Jack and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and a scary scene where the Black Pearl crew loots Port Royal and kills numerous people.

Furthermore, after the curse is broken, there is quite a bit of blood. After Barbossa is no longer undead, Jack shoots him, and a large, bloodied wound spreads across the captain's body until he succumbs to his injuries. The broken curse also affects the men on the Dauntless. It's hard to forget when James Norrington (Jack Davenport) pulls his sword out of one of his enemies, and the blade is covered in deep, red blood. Soon after this, many of the injured men from the Black Pearl drop dead, no longer immortal. The gore and violence might not be too intense to scare viewers, since it's kept mostly to the final parts of the film. However, it is important for parents to gauge the movie and understand what their children are watching.

Jack drinks rum

As "Curse of the Black Pearl" is a pirate movie, director Gore Verbinski was careful to keep it as authentic as possible, aside from the supernatural elements. This means incorporating rum, a favorite drink among pirates. Rum plays a big part near the climax of the film when Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and Elizabeth are marooned on an island. Jack explains that the last time he was on this island, he spent his time drinking until rumrunners found him and saved him. He gives Elizabeth a bottle, and in the very next scene, they are drunk and dancing around the fire. Though this part gives audiences a deeper look into Jack's character — he craves freedom, and his ship, the Black Pearl, represents that — it might not be appropriate to see Jack and Elizabeth in this way. Jack also drinks himself into a stupor, which might confuse young viewers. 

Furthermore, the very next day, Elizabeth has burned the rum to create a smoke signal. Jack is visibly upset. "Why is the rum gone?" he cries, even though her actions are reasonable. Jack pulls out his gun behind her, and though it isn't the worst thing he's done, he contemplates shooting her. Though he ultimately doesn't, and her plan works, kids might think that Jack is right in being angry with Elizabeth. They might think that alcohol is important, and it's okay for them to get angry at someone else if they don't think the same way.