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About Film & Animation / Student Core Member Mairead Malesco21/Female/United States Recent Activity
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How to Expose a Character's Identity

As a major cinephile, I believe that plot exposition and characterization should be a natural process; too many films rely on making the expository details as a clunky infodump with no real impact what soever.

If your wondering what a good characterization and exposition looks like; my answer would be the introduction of Jack Sparrow in the first 'Pirates of the Caribbean' film.

During the sequence, accompanied by by the epic musical score, we see our first glimpse of Jack, triumphantly standing , surveying the sea. Between the music, the scenery, and most of all Jack’s demeanor, the first moments give us a the sense of a powerful sailor and pirate.

Of course, this perception is then hilariously dashed as he drops down from the top into a small dory, full of water and rapidly sinking. Jack goes from badass to pathetic in an instant, showing us not to assume we know what’s coming with this character. That sense of doubting what you see is an integral part of Jack’s character, which he intentionally uses to his advantage. All of a sudden his comic misfortunes are contrasted by a serious moment of respect towards the bodies of pirates hung as a warning. It’s a grim and serious note, lending weight to the pirate situation in the film.

Things don’t stay serious for long as Jack is back at the crosstrees, riding his sinking ship all the way to the dock and stepping across as though it had always been a part of his plan. It’s a moment simultaneously so ludicrous and badass that it is the single most representative image of Jack.

As he reaches the end of his voyage, while his boat is sinking to the sea, Jack unstably walks off like everything's just fine while the other pirates are staring in astonishment. The action shown here demonstrates the Captain's signature 'IDGAF' attitude.


Once on the dock, Jack bribes the tax collector, as if trying to keep a low profile, only to rob him moments later. Jack’s defining characteristic is that he is the smartest person in the room, and always one step ahead of everyone else, and we see a small glimpse of that here. In the next 10 minutes or so, we get a deeper understanding of Jack’s cleverness, his sense of humor, his interesting honest streak (“Pillage, plunder and otherwise pilfer my weasley black guts out.”)

So yeah I'd use this sequence for Film 101 textbook, when it comes to effectively conveying a character's identity beyond appearance.


MaireadMalesco's Profile Picture
Mairead Malesco
Artist | Student | Film & Animation
United States
New Jerseyian Comic and Cartoon Artist. Student Graphic Designer/Filmmaker


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bluemidnight3 Featured By Owner 2 days ago  Student Filmographer
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Daisy thanks for fav Wiggly text - Thanks Bunny Emoji-66 (Thank you arigatou) [V3] 
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