I’ve written a lot about Pirates of the Caribbean over the years, from my magnum opus, a two-part analysis of the original trilogy of films, to various other articles on my various favorite moments from the films (here, here, and here). With Valentine’s Day coming this weekend it seemed like a perfect time to highlight my favorite movie kiss of all time, from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End between Will and Elizabeth. There are plenty of swoon-worthy moments and kisses between the pair throughout the trilogy, but for me nothing tops their impromptu wedding and the kiss that follows. It’s a perfectly crafted mix of clever writing, action, earnest performances, fantastic music, and visual flair, all built on the backs of the films worth of relationship growth and obstacles. Take a look for yourself, and then read on to find out why I love this kiss above all others.
To fully appreciate this moment, you’ve got to look back at the trials this relationship has been through. After the pair finally admitted their feelings for each other at the end of The Curse of the Black Pearl, it seemed like everything would work out for the best despite their class differences. But while Will and Elizabeth were pulled apart by external forces in Dead Man’s Chest, what really kept the pair apart was the choices they made. Elizabeth developed feelings for Jack (or at least potential feelings), and then betrayed him to the Kraken leaving him to die, and never told Will any of this. Meanwhile, Will swore an oath to rescue his father from Davy Jones no matter the cost while keeping his plan from Elizabeth. The choices they made, specifically the choices to keep things from each other, come to a head in At World’s End as they go to rescue Jack from Davy Jones’ Locker. Will discovers that Elizabeth is only going along so she can assuage her guilt over leaving Jack, and she discovers that Will is only on the mission to retrieve the Black Pearl, the only ship fast enough to outsail the Flying Dutchman and thus rescue his father. Their relationship seemed like it was over for good when these secrets came to light, each claiming to have kept them because it was their “burden to bear”, with Will asking, “If you make your choices alone, how can I trust you?”
But when discussing his relationship, and admitting that his quest to free his father is pushing him away from Elizabeth, Will is told by Jack, “Mate, if you chose to lock your heart away you’ll lose it for certain.” It’s with those words ringing in his ears that Will asks Elizabeth to marry him. She’s a little confused and reluctant until he delivers the key line, “I love you. I’ve made my choice, what’s yours?” He’s making it clear that no matter what his other goals may be, he’s choosing to put her first and asking her to do the same. She agrees not by saying yes but by taking the next step and asking Barbossa to marry them. The wedding that follows is clever not just for the dialogue, the fact that a wedding is happening amidst a battle, or the artistry of the images and the music, but because it symbolizes what this marriage means. Will and Elizabeth go from two combatants fighting on the same side in a massive battle to a pair fighting side by side as a team.
Having Barbossa marry the pair is a brilliant twist, so far removed from the pomp and circumstance of Elizabeth’s life before her adventures, and filled with Barbossa’s sarcasm and impatience, And then there’s the kiss itself, delayed three times before it finally comes. I love that it begins with Will and Elizabeth crossing swords by mistake, before setting them aside and joining together, much like their relationship up to this point.
It’s a long kiss, as well it should be, and like all of the greatest kisses the world around them simply falls away. Even as their universe is seemingly crashing down around them, and all hope seems lost, they have each other and nothing else matters. The music swells, moving from the pounding drums and brass of action to the strings of romance, as Will and Elizabeth’s theme blares out in triumph. (Of course, it helps that the kiss itself is as steamy as it gets, and features two of the most attractive people on the planet.)
As a side point, I’m a sucker for kisses epic enough to deserve having the camera pan around them to catch it from all sides. And to cap it all off we have the reaction shot, where Pintel and Ragetti take a break from the battle to pause and smile at the pair, acting always as the observers of events.
There are a million great kisses out there in the movies, enough to find whatever style and story suits your fancy. Will and Elizabeth’s tops my list because it’s the culmination of a long journey both as a couple and as individuals. The original trilogy of Pirates films tell the story of Will and Elizabeth, no matter how much it might seem like it’s Jack Sparrow we’re watching, so in many ways this moment is the climax of the trilogy, not wrapping up their story but cementing their love in a way that no matter what comes next we know they’ll be happy together, in this world or the next. That’s not to say that what follows is unimportant, because obviously there are still huge developments to come before the end of the film, but regardless of the events ahead Will and Elizabeth are now committed, having made their choice for better or worse, and they finally know their place in the world… by each other’s side.
What do you think? What’s your favorite movie kiss of all time? (Look for another kiss-related article on Valentine’s Day as part of a Blogathon!) Are you a fan of Will and Elizabeth, or would you have preferred a different pairing? Do you have a different Will and Elizabeth kiss that you prefer to this one? With the news that Will will be in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, what do you think this means for his relationship with Elizabeth (if anything)? What do you want to see from Pirates 5? Let me know in the comments!