Movies and TV

Blackbeard in Pirates of the Caribbean 4

Who is Blackbeard?

Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard, is an interesting character in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’. This is the fourth movie in this particular series, although the character has been mentioned before this.  He has the power to control things supernaturally, wishes to live forever, and is completely focused on one person – himself. Jack Sparrow provides the contrast to this character in the series of Pirates of the Caribbean.

Blackbeard in Pirates of the Caribbean 4

From the first three movies, we have the wildly fantasy driven version of the pirate world.  In the fourth installment, there was the need for a villain. In order to make Blackbeard fit this role, he was given powers. These included the ability to bring the dead back into zombie form, make captured ships shrink to fit into bottles and control his ships using the three Triton gems.

Blackbeard and Jack Sparrow – Total Opposites

The movie hero, Jack Sparrow, at times seems selfish and diabolical. However, he has turned quite soft and even more lovable by the fourth installment. In general, he is working towards the good of everyone around him. It would seem that at some point Jack has taken the journey of being the hero. He really isn’t a true pirate but he still likes to play by his own rules.

On the other hand, Blackbeard is indeed a true pirate in the sense that everything about him, everyone else be damned. He is truly black-hearted, and has even sacrificed his daughter, as we learn in the end.

We see the same type of thing happening several times in fiction.  If you think about Twilight, for example, we have good and bad vampires. The good vampires, while still the undead and presumptively somehow the spawn of evil, don’t want to hurt humans. That is why Bella is so in love – they sparkle, they are hot, and so much more – what’s not to like?

Blackbeard follows in a long line of villains are haven’t gone good but have stayed bad. Now, of course, he is dead. Or at least we presume he is dead – one never knows for sure when it comes to the universe of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’. You can pretty well bet the pirates in the famous Disney ride were all the “good” pirates!

Blackbeard in Pirates of the Caribbean 4 - 2

Actor for Blackbeard

The character of Blackbeard, or Edward Teach, is portrayed by Ian McShane in this particular movie. McShane is a British actor as well as a voice artist, a director, and producer. Disney couldn’t have made a better choice for an actor to play the heartless Blackbeard. McShane possesses the strong, rather menacing features suitable for the role. Plus, his experience as a voice artist served him well here.

His credits include multiple TV series including ‘Kings’, ‘Pillars of Earth’, and films such as Jack the Giant Slayer and Kung Fu Panda. He was even a guest star on the popular cartoon series ‘Spongebob Squarepants’.

About Edward Teach

Edward Teach, sometimes also known as Edward Thatch, is the real name of the pirate Blackbeard. The PotC series has taken the inspiration for this character form real life. This was an actual English pirate who roamed the seas around the eastern coast of North American British colonies and the West Indies.

There’s a history and a recognizable name behind this character, even if the real pirate has a very short, violent lifespan. In order to appreciate the PotC character better, we should know a bit more about the real-life character.

Origins of Blackbeard

The exact birth date of this pirate is unknown, though he was probably born around 1680. He first emerged as a dangerous pirate in the year 1717. His death occurred merely a year after this, which means we know very little about both the pirate and the man behind that persona.

Blackbeard’s Ship

A pirate needs to have a ship of his own; otherwise, he’s just a member of a crew. Blackbeard managed to get his ship by plundering and pillaging a French ship called Queen Anne’s Revenge. In 1717, Blackbeard managed to capture this ship along with his then-partner and ally, Benjamin Hornigold.

The Death of Blackbeard

Both the ship and her master were destined for merely a short reign, which ended in 1718. Blackbeard landed the ship in the Wes Indies, or rather ran it aground. His death followed soon after this incident, as he was beheaded in the midst of a battle with Robert Maynard and other sailors. It was thus that the pirate’s terror was short-lived, leaving him no chance for redemption.

The Character

The Pirates of the Caribbean series was definitely a very successful one, but they introduced this character only in the fourth installment. This might have been due to the fact that the real Blackbeard was only a known pirate for a very short time.

Ian McShane’s character managed to portray Blackbeard very convincingly, though that version was understandably romanticized and heightened using visual design, artistic discretion, and the usual Hollywood flamboyancy. The goal of the movie’s producers was to create a foil to Jack Sparrow, comparing the two different kinds of pirates; one redeemable, one not.

Ghost Stories

Another reason why Blackbeard may have been included in the PotC series is the legend surrounding the man. Though he only sailed the waters as a pirate very briefly, his presence was strong enough to haunt other seamen. There are many ghost stories centered on Blackbeard, with claims that the pirate wanders the seas looking for his head.

Blackbeard’s Movie Story

These stories have created an air of terror and mystery around the pirate, which makes for a striking character. In the movie, Blackbeard tries to escape his prophesied death by looking for the Fountain of Youth. He forces Jack Sparrow to embark on the Queen Anne’s Revenge, which was also his ship in the series. Sparrow is enlisted to help him in this search, in which he eventually succeeds.

Unique Elements

There are several unique elements about the character Blackbeard in the movie. For one, he doesn’t use the usual symbol of the skull and crossbones on his ship’s flag. Instead, he used a symbol all his own, which is that of a skeletal devil with a glass of wine in one hand and a spear in the other. The spear pointed at a bleeding heart. The overall effect was chilling enough and served as a serious warning to everyone around him. His victims hence knew that if they didn’t surrender right away, they will be killed.

Blackbeard is also portrayed to be almost immortal in the movie series. While his apparent killing was assumed, he was later revealed to have escaped and continuing in his dark ways. Later on, he was even said to be a practice of voodoo and the dark arts. In order to symbolize his passion for these activities, he changed his flag’s symbol to that of a flaming skull.

The Softer Side

Movies usually portray a softer side to many villains, through which we might understand and perhaps even empathize with them. The character of Blackbeard here is dealt with in a similar manner, as he eventually met a Spanish woman and had a daughter with her. Blackbeard considered the woman to be the good light to his darkness, and was heartbroken when she died.

Blackbeard’s daughter is another way in which we might gain sympathy for the character. He’s shown to leave her in a nun’s convent. Some might see this as abandonment, but the usual interpretation is that he was assured of a safe and happy upbringing for the child with the nuns. He continues to send the convent a large amount of money for his daughter.

Conclusion

While one may see Blackbeard to be the ultimate villain with no goodness in his heart, there are actually many facets to this character. Fans of the series might like to see the pirate again if there are any further installments.

 

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