- See "East India Trading Co. (Pirates of the Caribbean)" for the fictitious association of which this character is chairman. Read "Honourable East India Company" for England's actual trading company.
Lord Cutler Beckett is a fictional character portrayed by Tom Hollander in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series. He appears as a main antagonist in Dead Man's Chest and in At World's End. Ruthless, manipulative and treacherous, Beckett is the chairman of the East India Trading Co., a fictitious company based heavily on the Honourable East India Company, and representative of King George II of Great Britain.
Cutler Beckett has English origins. Beckett took employment in Great Britain's East India Trading Co.. Fourteen years prior to the events of Dead Man's Chest, Beckett provided Jack Sparrow (who was under the employment of the E.I.T.C.) with the Wicked Wench to transport "a certain cargo" to Port Royal for the Company. On voyage, Sparrow discovered the cargo was slaves and set them free in Africa. Beckett became enraged upon learning Sparrow's deed. Beckett ordered the Wicked Wench sunk and branded Sparrow a pirate. The Beckett character claims in Dead Man's Chest that Sparrow also left a mark on him. In the first movie, Commodore Norrington reveals a "P" branded on Jack's arm, saying Jack has had a run-in with the EITC. When William Turner asks Beckett what mark Sparrow left on him, Beckett merely changes the subject. Whatever it was, Jack surmised it was serious enough that what Beckett wants most in the world (with regards to him using Jack's compass) is to see him dead.
Most of the "dirty work" Beckett desires is carried out by his right-hand man, Mercer.
Cutler Beckett makes no appearance in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, although it is mentioned that Jack managed to escape several agents of the East India Trading Co.. The books state that Jack's arm was branded because Jack freed the prisoners on his ship and furious Beckett in response ordered Jack's ship to be sunk and Jack branded a pirate. Jack then was found by Davy Jones and Jack promised Jones to serve Jones's ship The Flying Dutchman if Jones raised the Pearl.
Dead Man's Chest
- Main article: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Beckett makes his first appearance in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest as Chairman of the East India Trading Co.. Beckett arrives at Port Royal seemingly to set it in order under Company control after the events of The Curse of the Black Pearl. Beckett carries warrants of arrest for the people involved in the events of the first film; Jack Sparrow (the pirate involved); Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann (aided in his escape); and James Norrington who resigned his commission months prior and disappeared (failed to go after Sparrow immediately) - Beckett however offers a deal to Turner. If Turner successfully locates Jack Sparrow for Beckett to employ as a privateer for England with his Letters of Marque and brings back Sparrow's compass for Beckett's use, Turner and Swann will be pardoned. Beckett desires the compass to locate the "Dead Man's Chest"; whomsoever possesses Davy Jones's heart within it, may dominate him by extortion and thus the ocean by extension. This would allow Beckett to purge the seas from Pirates en-masses.
Beckett is confronted by Elizabeth and is forced at gunpoint to validate Letters of Marque to free Will, but only if she gets Beckett Jack's compass. He later imprisons Governor Weatherby Swann for freeing Elizabeth from prison and blackmails him into using his authority as Governor and his influence in London to aid him and the Company in exchange for Elizabeth's safety. At the end of the film, Norrington arrives at Beckett's home with his Letters of Marque and presents to him a sack containing Jones's beating Heart as an exchange for his "old life."
During the course of the film, Beckett has an artisan working on a massive painting of the World's map over his office's back wall. Throughout different scenes seen, the painting is slowly being completed. The producers of Dead Man's Chest use this symbolically to represent the World getting "smaller" as England's East India Trading Co. gains worldwide influence, thus leaving no more "freedom" in the world. In the script, Beckett states, "Jack Sparrow is a dying breed [a pirate]. The world is shrinking; the blank edges of the map filled in. Jack must find his place in the new world or perish."
At World's End
- Main article: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Tom Hollander returns as Lord Cutler Beckett for Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End; in this film he has been appointed representative of the King of England. Beckett's ambitions now turn to discovering the Brethren Court and eliminating it, thus rendering pirates worldwide leaderless, allowing Beckett to exterminate them. At a mass hanging of people convicted of piracy or association with pirates, the prisoners start singing Hoist the Colours, a signal for the Brethren to assemble- as planned by Beckett. Meanwhile, the seas are being terrorized by the Flying Dutchman (now under Company control), which is destroying pirate ships mercilessly and leaving none alive. This annoys Beckett, who needs prisoners to interrogate. He later has Governor Weatherby Swann assassinated after because he "knows too much" and places Admiral Norrington in charge of the Dutchman. Beckett then sails his ship-of-the-line, the Endeavour, to Singapore, where he learns that the Brethren will meet.
By the middle of the film, Beckett acquires the Black Pearl in Asian seas through trickery and deception by Sao Feng who was originally promised the ship by Beckett. When he encounters Jack Sparrow for the first time since their branding, Beckett learns that the Brethren are meeting at Shipwreck Cove and makes a deal with Sparrow. If Jack brings the Brethren and pirates out from the nigh-impregnable fortress to him, Beckett will keep Sparrow from Jones's judgment and will let him live. Sparrow however flees with the Pearl. After finding Will Turner adrift at sea, Beckett, Turner, and Jones sail to Shipwreck Cove using Sparrow's compass. They arrive with an E.I.T.C. armada encompassing hundreds of ships, and the Pirate Lords have agreed to go to war at Jack's urging. During a parley with Elizabeth, Barbossa, and Jack, Beckett calls Jack out as the "grand architect" of their plan, and Elizabeth gives Jack to Jones in exchange for Will's release; however, Jack had planned for this to happen, so he could get onboard the Flying Dutchman and stab Jones' heart.
After an epic battle between the Flying Dutchman and the Black Pearl, Beckett is worried his advantage is lost when the Pearl seemingly sinks the Dutchman. When it resurfaces, he orders the Endeavour and the Dutchman forward to order an attack on the Pearl, and does not realize that he has lost control of the former ship, now commanded by Will Turner. However, the Black Pearl and The Flying Dutchman flank the Endeavour and destroy it, Beckett dying in the process.
Outside films, Cutler Beckett appears in the novel Pirates of the Caribbean: The Price of Freedom. He is an EITC Director for West Africa, presiding over the EITC businesses from his office in Calabar. He gives Jack Sparrow the merchant vessel Wicked Wench, and sends Jack to search for the mythical island of Zerzura. When Jack frees a cargo of black slaves, Beckett orders his men to burn the ship.
Character personality and symbolism
Cutler Beckett is a character portrayed as highly ruthless to those around him, and displays a willingness to use others in order to gain power and wealth, or to destroy anyone or anything that proves to be an obstacle. Will Turner, Elizabeth Swann, James Norrington, Davy Jones and Weatherby Swann are examples of people he has manipulated. Throughout the series, Beckett is a skilled manipulator and strategist (not unlike his nemesis Jack), and unlike Davy Jones, he presents himself in a haughty, cultured and sophisticated manner, drinking tea on board his ship, the Endeavour, before going into battle. In contrast to the honorable Norrington, Beckett is a cruel and remorseless man, mercilessly using brutal measures against the defenseless for his purposes. He is written to show disregard for both human life and civil liberties, willing to execute innocents en masse (including children), not only to provoke the Brethren Court to battle, but also to instill terror and therefore civil obedience. He has displayed Machiavellian tendencies in regards to his connections with others, an example being his lack of concern for the deal he made with Jack Sparrow when it no longer served his interests, stating "It's nothing personal, Jack - it's just good business" when he is about to destroy the Black Pearl. According to the Pirates of the Caribbean: Visual Guide, the toy soldiers and battle ships atop Beckett's desk are "cunningly disguised torture devices", showing the kind of control he wishes to exert over the world.
Beckett and his Company are symbolism for the "shrinking" of the world. Indeed, the main theme of the Pirates of the Caribbean films is the upcoming of industrialization and imperialism (e.g. England's actual Honourable East India Company and Imperialism) and showing how the "Pirates" are dealing with it—producers of the series have constantly expressed this. In the script for At World's End, Beckett states, "The Brethren [pirates] know they face extinction. All that remains is for them to decide where they make their final stand." The series often emphasizes pirate freedom as well, the character Jack Sparrow being the prime example. The character Lord Beckett, however, is intent on exterminating the pirates and dominating the seas in order to increase and stabilize trade. Beckett's lines are written to further stress his obsession with maintaining control by eradicating piracy and "freedom".
As shown in the confrontation scene between Elizabeth and Beckett, the latter seems to know what had been happening during the year prior to his arrival. He states (when Elizabeth warns him that the compass would only lead to his own demise): "Ah, I see. You think the compass leads only to the Isla de Muerta, and so you hope to save me from an evil fate. But you mustn't worry: I care not for cursed Aztec gold, my desires are not so provincial. There's more than one chest of value in these waters…So perhaps you may wish to enhance your offer.". This indicates that he was aware of the Chest of Cortes, Captain Barbossa, and Jack's struggle with the latter to attain his ship back.
- ↑ The "Letters of Marque", with the signature of Lord Cutler Beckett - Disney exhibition of the theatrical properties used in the movie
- ↑ Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Ch.1
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Ch.3
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Ch.18
- ↑ Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Ch.6
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Ch.16
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Ch.27
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Ch.1
- ↑ Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Ch.5
- ↑ Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Ch.12
- ↑ Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Ch.4
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Ch.11
- ↑ Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Ch.19
- ↑ Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Ch.3
- ↑ "GD Archives: Zizzle At World's End Lord Cutler Beckett!," Toy Figure Times (1/30/2008).