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Kraken (Pirates of the Caribbean)

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Pirates of the Caribbean character
OccupationDestroys enemy ships for Davy Jones[1]
Appearance(s)Dead Man's Chest
At World's End

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The Kraken is a fictional sea monster in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series. The monster made its first appearance in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest as an antagonist portrayed through computer-generated imagery (CGI). Although a creation of Industrial Light & Magic for Dead Man's Chest and designed by the film's producers, this Kraken derives from the eponymous mythical creature.[2] Walt Disney Pictures also became the first studio to produce this creature using CGI. The Kraken makes a small, symbolic appearance in the third film in the series, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.[3]

In the films, the Kraken is a sea creature of monstrous proportions, controlled by Davy Jones, often to destroy ships that threaten him. Various pronunciations are made of the name: Kevin McNally (Joshamee Gibbs) pronounced it as /ˈkrækən/ KRAK-ən, so that pronunciation was adopted on the set.[citation needed] In Dead Man's Chest and At World's End, Jack later refers to the Kraken as "beastie".[4]

Film production[edit]

The Kraken was difficult to animate as it had no real-life reference, until animation director Hal Hickel instructed the crew to watch King Kong vs. Godzilla which had a real octopus crawling over miniatures.[5] During the filming of the attacks, Keira Knightley (Elizabeth Swann) divulged that "the Kraken, at the moment, is just Gore [Verbinski] running around, going, 'I'm a tentacle. I'm a tentacle. Be afraid.'"[citation needed] Gore Verbinski worked with Industrial Light & Magic to create the scenes for the film involving the Kraken. When filming the attack on the Edinburgh Trader, they used the ship as a set in shallow waters. Many more sailors were digitally added on board the ship, and others were digitally replaced for complex shots. When the time came to film the Edinburgh Trader being broken in half, two massive pipes were filled with 30,000 pounds of cement for a total of 60,000 pounds and crushed down onto the set. To prepare for this event, most metal and the masts were removed, because the metal would prevent the ship from satisfyingly breaking in half while the masts would prevent better camera close-ups. Furthermore, the interior middle of the ship was lined with cables of explosives to blast the wood apart in the air. After the shot, other men were filmed on another blue tilting set and digitally added on deck. John Knoll, Visual Effects Supervisor, confessed that it was extremely complex to add the Kraken's tentacles between all the environmental effects of water and wood debris.[6]

When the time came to film Jack Sparrow in front of the Kraken's maw, Johnny Depp's stand-in, Scott Sener, was used to experiment with what worked best with the slime at their disposal (which would represent the phlegm of the Kraken). The slime was spattered about him with jets of air. For the actual filming, Depp was spattered with the slime and acted his part without any representation for the Kraken. It was afterward digitally added along with sound, tentacles, and other visual effects.[6]


Nothing is revealed in the films about the Kraken's origins. In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, it is summoned by the men of the Flying Dutchman turning a capstan that lifts and drops a large wooden drop hammer that sends a large shock wave through the hull of the Dutchman, presumably calling the Kraken from the depths, in Dead Man's Chest. It is also implied that this Kraken was the last of its kind.


Dead Man's Chest[edit]

The Kraken first appears in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, brought to life using the most advanced computer-generated imagery (CGI) from Industrial Light & Magic. Davy Jones, who seeks Jack Sparrow's soul to recoup a debt, dispatches Bootstrap Bill Turner to deliver Sparrow the Black Spot and announce that Jones' "terrible leviathan" is stalking him.[7] When a Cypriot sailor retrieves Sparrow's lost hat from the sea, he unwittingly calls the Kraken,[7] which then destroys his vessel. The Kraken later attacks an English ship, whereof Will Turner boards the wreckage in search of the Dutchman, to find the surviving crew psychologically traumatized by the Kraken's attack.[8]

File:Pirates04 Pirates2-kb365-23.jpg
The Kraken destroys the Edinburgh Trader

Davy Jones later summons the Kraken to destroy the Edinburgh Trader, a Scottish merchant ship that rescues Will Turner, killing nearly all the crew and breaking the ship clean in two before dragging it to the depths. While momentarily underwater, Will (and thus the viewer) briefly glimpses the monster.[9]

When the Flying Dutchman falls behind the Black Pearl during a chase, Jones calls upon the Kraken to finish it off; whereupon Will orders the crew to fire the deck guns into the monster's tentacles, forcing the Kraken to retreat.[10] Moments later, the Kraken destroys the cannons before attacking the rest of the ship. Will then has kegs of gunpowder, rum, and other combustibles loaded into a cargo net and hoisted aloft; and when the Kraken returns, Sparrow shoots the barrels, blasting the monster's tentacles in the resulting explosion, whereupon the Kraken again withdraws.[10] However, knowing that they have only enraged the beast, Sparrow orders the crew to abandon ship;[11] but recognizing that the Kraken is only hunting Sparrow, Elizabeth Swann distracts Jack with a kiss and chains him to the mast, then escapes with the crew.[11] The Kraken makes its final assault just as Sparrow frees himself, after which the Kraken drags Sparrow and the Black Pearl to Davy Jones' Locker.[11]

At World's End[edit]

The Kraken is briefly loose Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, wherein it has been killed by Davy Jones under the order of Lord Cutler Beckett. When reminded of this killing, Davy Jones appears distraught.[12] After Jack Sparrow is rescued from Davy Jones' Locker, he proclaims his desire to become "Immortal Jack Sparrow, the last pirate";[3] but when Sparrow and Captain Barbossa find the Kraken's carcass,[3] Barbossa remarks that 'the problem with being the last of anything [means that] by and by, there be none left at all'. This statement implies that the Kraken was the last of its species.


Physical characteristics[edit]

The Kraken was designed by the producers of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, and brought to life by technicians at Industrial Light & Magic. Its body resembles a massive, cuttlefish-like cephalopod. In the book, Pirates of the Caribbean: A Visual Guide, a profile view of the Kraken is seen, with a ship for scale. The second edition, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Complete Visual Guide, states the Kraken to be as long as ten similar ships.[4] The book also depicts the Kraken as a cephalopod-like beast, with a ring of tentacles at the base of its head and a long, sharp tail similar to a squid (this could be used to keep it at level with the ship underwater).[4] The fictional monster has also large round eyes with orange irises and black pupils.[3] The eyes seem to show pain, most likely from when Jones had to kill it, although it could also be the Kraken's default expression. The Kraken in this shot does not look as big as the given photo from the visual guide, though is could just be from the fact that the Kraken has, most likely, been dead on the island for months and is beginning to rot away.

Its massive, sucker-lined tentacles are said by Mr. Gibbs to, "suction your face clean off".[13] The suction disks are powerful enough to pull down a ship from its underside and have contorted a human's face to the point of leaving it smothered by its own skin in Dead Man's Chest.[8] The Kraken also uses these powerful suckers to silently pull itself along the rocks lying on the oceans' bottom, much as does an octopus.[4] After the Kraken's tentacles were severely damaged by cannon fire and an explosion during the assaults on Black Pearl, it resurfaced with its wounds appearing healed.[11] It is unclear if the Kraken has the ability to instantly regenerate itself or if it was using different tentacles. It is also notable that the Kraken has two forearms significantly larger than the others, like the hunting tentacles possessed by squids and cuttlefish. The beast employs these to crush ships.[9] The weight of the two tentacles can split a ship along its width.

When it revealed its mouth to character Jack Sparrow, it resembled a Sarlacc; the interior is lined with over six sets of spiked teeth and its breath emits a reeking odour of "a thousand rotting corpses".[11][13] Jack, however, is not at all daunted by the foul breath claiming it is "Not so bad," and deliberately leaps into the Kraken's jaws, trying to kill it.

Summoning the Kraken[edit]

Davy Jones, ruler of the seas, summons the Kraken to destroy vessels. On-board his ghostly ship, the Flying Dutchman, is a massive capstan with a carved Kraken on the top, the so-called Kraken Hammer. To call the Kraken, the crew rotate the capstan clockwise, lifting it to its highest point. It then slams down, blasting shockwaves through the ocean, thus summoning the Kraken. One shockwave usually does the job unless the Kraken is farther away. The Kraken Hammer is seen again in At World's End, still aboard the Dutchman; though broken and unusable, it is still able to rotate, as shown during Sparrow and Jones' duel.[9] The lines chanted by Davy Jones as the Kraken is summoned ("Let no joyful voice be heard! Let no man look up at the sky with hope! And let this day be cursed by we who ready to wake...the Kraken!") are similar to the lines from the Book of Job: "Lo, let that night be solitary, let no joyful voice come therin. Let them curse it that curse the day, who are ready to raise up their mourning."

The Kraken attacks anyone marked with the Black Spot,[7] which is delivered to its victims by Flying Dutchman crewmen and can only be removed by its captain, Davy Jones.[14] According to the writers' commentary on the Dead Man's Chest DVD, those marked with the Black Spot are taken by the Kraken to Davy Jones' Locker, where they must experience their worst fears for eternity.

Methods of attack[edit]

The Kraken attacks by stealthily approaching a ship, slithering its tentacles up the hull's sides, and gripping tightly, yanking it underwater.[4][9] If the crew can fight back, the Kraken smashes the hull and masts with its tentacles, probing the decks and holds with its sensitive suckers seeking out its prey.[9][10] The destruction is catastrophic, and its two forearms are so powerful it can easily rip a ship apart in mere seconds.[9] Davy Jones uses some, but not all of these attacks to acquire new crewmen for the Flying Dutchman.[14] As he surveys one wrecked ship's survivors, he offers them an opportunity to delay their final judgment by joining his crew for 100 years. Those who refuse are killed and thrown over-board.[14] A somewhat notable aspect is that the Kraken displays a degree of intelligence. When it was hurt by the Black Pearl's cannons, it was sure to get rid of them when it attacked them again.

Kraken attacks often leave the survivors, if any, psychologically damaged, traumatized or deranged.[15] In one case, a survivor is left without a face, it having been contorted by the suckers. Also, the Kraken appeared to have eaten at least six of the crew-members of the Edinburgh Trader.

Other appearances[edit]

  • The Kraken makes its debut appearance in the Kingdom Hearts series in Kingdom Hearts III. Though the world based on the film follows the events of At World's End, the Kraken is shown to still be alive and serves as a boss during the maelstrom battle. After Sora obtains the Wheel of Fate Keyblade, a formchange known as Storm Flag climaxes with an attack using Kraken-like tentacles.

See also[edit]

  • Kraken (legendary creature)
  • Kraken in popular culture


  1. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, 19 and 24–26
  2. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, second disc, "Creating the Kraken"
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Ch. 10
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Complete Visual Guide, page 72, "The Kraken"
  5. Rebecca Murray (2006-11-03). "Behind the Scenes of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" Movies". About.com. Retrieved 2007-05-23.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Creating the Kraken (DVD)|format= requires |url= (help). Buena Vista. 2006.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Ch.4
  8. 8.0 8.1 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Ch.12
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Ch.19
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Ch.25
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Ch.26
  12. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Ch.15
  13. 13.0 13.1 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest Ch.11
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Ch.13
  15. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Ch.12. Pg 393

External links[edit]

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