To me, the Will Turner-Elizabeth Swann romance is one of the greatest of all time. But I’ve come to realize that most people — especially women — don’t agree in the slightest, to which I say, “Fair enough.”
After all, Will Turner comes off a bit bland (by the way, his surname should rightly be ‘Smith’ after his profession, but in conjunction with his first name would paint an entirely different picture). And he tends to get moody and clam up. And he repeatedly opts not to keep his fiancée in the loop when pulling some trickery. So yeah, I get it. Not exactly the ideal guy.
On the other hand, Elizabeth Swann isn’t just semi-royalty… she’s intelligent, she’s witty. She knows how to freaking sword fight and isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. Even if that means laying the (lip) smack-down on some chump to save her dearly beloved’s life. In summary, she’s pretty much the ideal woman.
But take the microscope off the individuals for a moment and take in their story as a whole. You’ve got two people who are ridiculously passionate about each other, so much so that they tend to overlook some important aspects of their relationship — most notably, communication. Yet despite the rough waters they have to fight through (pun totally intended), neither one of them wavers for a moment when it comes to the two of them. All the struggle, torment, and occasional trickery is always a means of inching closer to their other half. If that isn’t romantic, I must have a gross misunderstanding of the word.
The most polarizing point of contention I find is how their story ends. They’re finally married and wouldn’t you know it, ol’ boy becomes the new Davy Jones, and they’re forced into a life with only a single day every decade together. I put myself in those boots — and assuming my entire lifetime thus far counts — it amounts to less than 60 hours of wedded bliss. For every 3650 days of ferrying dead people from one end of who-knows-where to the other, only one of raucous love-making, sweet nothing-whispering, and every other conceivable form of connection with your effing soul mate. As most of you statistically-minded people know, that sucks.
But here’s where you have to scale down a little and see the relationship for what it is: two people, so madly in love with one another that ten years of not even being able to exchange letters is worth that one day. On a practical level, yeah, it would be grueling and painful and more than most people could bear. But if it weren’t difficult and extraordinary, it wouldn’t be worth making a movie about, would it?
I think long-distance relationships are like a heavy vaccination — if it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger. What’s that old saying? “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” My philosophy has always followed that fairly closely. If two people really care for one another as much as they say they do, a few hundred miles in between them is nothing. The slight emptiness of being apart is a constant reminder of how much they mean to each other, how much they care. The trouble is, that constant state of yearning is never the goal; ultimately, they want to be side-by-side (and if they don’t, they should probably re-examine the nature of their relationship). And that’s where the problems start. One half realizes there are other guys/gals that are already right there within arm’s-reach with the potential to replace that other guy/gal. Doubts creep in. Jealousy rears its ugly head. And inevitably, the split happens. It’s a process that’s been repeated more times than an Anchorman quote.
And that’s part of what makes the conclusion of the Turner-Swann story so unique to me. It’s the ultimate long-term relationship, and it succeeds. But despite the other-worldly conditions under which it exists, the reason it works is perfectly simple: they belong to each other. Whatever inner turmoil or loneliness might eat away at them and occasionally make them miserable, “they” are absolute. I’m sure Elizabeth is perfectly capable of finding another gent who wasn’t bound to eternal servitude of the vitally-challenged, a man who would be a perfectly suitable husband, father, and life mate. But she didn’t. She chose not to cheapen their history, she chose the narrow path to happiness, she chose to always save that seat next to her for only Will.
And isn’t that what we all want? Not just someone that will hang out with us every day or to hold hands with during movies or any of the classic farcical clichés that compose the shallowest of summer flings. We want someone who isn’t going to bolt when things get tough. Someone who won’t give up in the face of adversity. Someone who will stay faithful until the world ends.
And that is why I think it’s one of the best romances ever.
…. that and the pirates.