The Spanish were right.
I have always loved the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. The mix of adventure and comedy is perfectly suited to my own tastes, and even as the series has fallen out of critical favor, I have greeted each now entry with joy. Each of the movies has something a little different to offer, but the fourth installment, On Stranger Tides, most thoroughly explores the theme of human immortality.
Captain Jack Sparrow, infamous lead in the franchise, was initially eager to find the fountain of youth, drink the blessed waters, and live forever. After stealing the map at the end of the third movie, he has been tracking the fountain for years.
Once he was informed by his associate Angelica, however, that he could only gain years of life by sucking them out of victims, Jack lost his desire for the fountain. He managed to escape the whole bad situation, making a speech to Gibbs afterwards about how mortality gives life flavor. This sentiment is popular in our culture today, but wrong from the perspective of Christians, per Paul in 1 Corinthians 15.
Despite the presence of a missionary on the voyage, the real heroes of this story were a group of well-armed Spanish. Upon finding the fountain of youth, these men immediately began tearing it down. Their captain utters these words: “Only God can grant eternal life. Not this pagan water.”
He was right, of course, both in his statement and in his actions. The fountain had to be destroyed, because despite its remarkable properties, it allowed only for great evil. The elaborate, two-goblet system was meant to take life from one person to give to another. It was set up to use victims to prolong the lives of others, and as Steve Rogers says, “we don’t trade lives.” The solution? Destroy the fountain.
But the Spanish also knew that the destruction of this water would not doom anyone to a life of mortality. They knew that God freely gives immortality through the resurrection of his Son. Truly, only God can grant everlasting life.
So what did the missionary talk about the whole time he was tagging along on this chase for the fountain and immortality? Sin something, the way of the light something, blah blah blah I love the mermaid. And afterwards, as he lay injured, the mermaid kissed him and dragged him down into the ocean, giving him a fate as vague as his theology.
Considering the rest of the factions, Barbossa only wanted vengeance, which is a bad motive, the British wanted the glory of possessing the fountain for their king, and Blackbeard wanted to live forever. It should be obvious, then, that the Spanish were in the right.
Many who liked the previous movies didn’t care for this installment, with all of the new characters and an almost exclusive focus on Jack, but I, for one, did. I think Barbossa and Gibbs are the most fun characters in the series. If you disagree, let me know below.
Far below, har har.