Tia Dalma

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Tia Dalma
Pirates of the Caribbean character
220px-Tia Dalma-1-.jpg
Tia Dalma / Calypso
First appearance Dead Man's Chest
Last appearance At World's End
Portrayed by Naomie Harris
In-universe information
Gender Female
Occupation Obeah sorceress, Hoodoo practitioner, Voodoo Queen
Appearance(s) Dead Man's Chest
At World's End
Kingdom Hearts III

Tia Dalma, played by Naomie Harris, is a fictional character from the films Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End . It is revealed in At World's End that she is the sea goddess Calypso.


Character history

Prior to the films

Prior to the events of the films, Tia Dalma was known as the goddess Calypso. Davy Jones, a human, fell in love with her. Calypso gave him the task of guiding the spirits of the dead lost at sea, and Jones accepted the task out of love for her. Jones was granted immortality on the condition that he could return to shore only once every ten years. However, when Jones returned to shore after ten years of service, Calypso failed to appear.

Feeling betrayed, Davy Jones made a secret agreement with the Pirate Lords. He showed them how to bind her to human form using Pieces of Eight; and thus, at the first Brethren Court, the pirates captured Calypso and bound her to a human body. Her binding tamed the seas and satisfied Jones's desire for vengeance. This entrapment could only be reversed if the Brethren Court reassembled, resubmitted the original nine Pieces of Eight they used to bind her, and burned them. Until the events of At World's End, she was unaware of the crucial role that her former lover had played in her imprisonment. After she was bound in human form, Tia Dalma began to practice Voodoo and Obeah magic.

It was thought that Tia Dalma and Sparrow became lovers at some point during the latter's adult life; Sparrow confessed to having "known" her at a time when they had been "nigh inseparable". Tia Dalma provided him with his compass, a mysterious device that pointed to that which its user wanted most. However, this fact is contested due to a scene in "Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Men Tell No Tales" : in this movie, there is a scene where Sparrow is given the compass by his former captian upon his death. Many fans of this series believe that this was a major error in the storyline, and that the origin of Sparrow obtaining the compass should not have been changed.

Dead Man's Chest

When the events of Dead Man's Chest begin, Jack Sparrow returns to see Tia Dalma after many years, in need of her assistance. Pursued across the Caribbean by Davy Jones's Kraken, he plans to find the Dead Man's Chest. This chest contains Jones's heart, and offers the only means to kill him. A series of trades takes place, leaving Jack with the location of the Flying Dutchman and a jar of dirt to protect him from Jones, while Tia Dalma gains possession of the undead monkey belonging to the late Captain Barbossa.

Jack's crew returns to Tia Dalma's shack after Jack is dragged to Davy Jones's Locker by the Kraken. Tia has apparently foreseen this eventuality, and informs the mourning crew that there is a chance to save Jack. She reveals that she has resurrected Barbossa, who will help lead the rescue mission.

At World's End

Tia Dalma joins Barbossa, Will, Elizabeth, and the rest of the Black Pearl's crew as they travel to Singapore. There, they infiltrate Sao Feng's headquarters to acquire the navigational chart needed to sail to World's End and Davy Jones' Locker, barely escaping the clutches of the East India Trading Company. On the journey, she explains to Pintel and Ragetti that Jack Sparrow cannot be resurrected the same way Barbossa was because Sparrow was "taken" by the Kraken while Barbossa died from normal, earthly causes. When rescuing Jack from the Locker, Tia Dalma flirts with him and references a presumed past romantic relationship. [1]

As the group searches for an escape route back to the mortal world, they encounter numerous souls adrift in the water. Tia Dalma tells the group the story of Davy Jones and Calypso, but does not reveal her identity. While caressing her locket, she reminisces that Jones was once human.

Later, it is revealed that Tia Dalma is Calypso, bound into human form. Her true motives for resurrecting Barbossa and Jack are unveiled when it is learned that both are Pirate Lords of the Brethren Court. Each has their respective "Pieces of Eight", the talismans necessary to free Calypso. She resurrected Barbossa to obtain his piece, and rescued Jack because his Piece went with him to Davy Jones' Locker. Upon arrival at Shipwreck Cove, she reminds Barbossa of her powers by gripping his hand and temporarily rendering it skeletal (a subtle reference to Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl ). She warns him that it was only by her power that he is alive again and that he must fulfill their agreement to release her. If he failed, she would kill him.

Tia Dalma and her estranged lover, Davy Jones, briefly reunite while she is locked in the brig of the ship. Calypso says she still feels deeply for Jones. She responds to his anger by saying that Jones never would have loved her if not for her uncontrollable and unpredictable nature. Calypso also chastises him for abandoning his duty to ferry souls to the other world. It was because he neglected his charges that Jones became a monster. Calypso is also furious that the Pirate Lords trapped her in her human form. Thus, her true motives are revealed: she plans to use her powers against the current court in revenge for the original act of turning her into a human. She will also fully give her love to Jones, and it appears they reconcile. When she touches Jones, he momentarily transforms back into the man he once was. Jones's parting words betray that his heart will always belong to her.

As the battle between the East India Trading Company and the pirates looms, Barbossa and Ragetti release Calypso from her human form. Before Calypso is fully freed, Will tells her that it was Davy Jones who betrayed her by revealing to the first Brethren Court how to bind her into her human form. Bound by ropes, she grows to nearly sixty feet high, towering over the crew. Barbossa asks that she fulfill their agreement and use her powers to aid the pirates. Calypso breaks free, transforming herself into thousands of small crabs that engulf the ship and flee into the sea. Her fury then creates a violent maelstrom that becomes the battlefield between the Black Pearl and the Flying Dutchman. Instead of aiding a particular side, her wrath is directed both at the pirate lords for imprisoning her and at Davy Jones for his betrayal.

Personality and appearance

Tia Dalma is a voodoo priestess with black teeth and blue lips, and she has her hair in dreadlocks; she speaks in Jamaican Patois. Harris's mother, a Jamaican immigrant, was her accent coach for the films. In personality terms, she is described as flirtatous, "coquettish, sensual, pleasure-loving, and extravagant", alluding to the belief that Calypso was a seductress. [2] In Dead Man's Chest, Tia Dalma's role is significantly bigger than in previous movies in the series. [3]

Tia Dalma is depicted barefoot in the movie-based comics in Pirati dei Caraibi Magazine. The Kingdom Keepers book series also described her as perpetually barefoot, which was a plot point in "The Insider".

Other appearances

In Kingdom Keepers , Tia Dalma appears near the fifth book of the series, Shell Game, as a member of the Overtakers. Having set up residence in Castaway Cay, she meets with Jafar, who had been sent by the Overtakers to bring her aboard the Dream. Serving as the guardian of the Overtakers' DHI server, she fights with Finn and Willa, only to be given a death threat unless she released Finn's mother from Overtaker control. In the sixth book, Dark Passage, she works with the witches Maleficent and the Evil Queen to bring Chernabog out of his stupor and back to full power; she burns a key flower and tricks Finn into fatally stabbing his best friend, allowing Chernabog to lick the blood and fully awaken. She is knocked out, and taken hostage by the Keepers. In the final book The Insider, Tia Dalma escapes custody and searches through the maze, freeing Chernabog and the Evil Queen, while collecting some of Maleficent's bones; she was horrified that a powerful praticioner of the black arts had been killed. She manipulates a supply driver for Disneyland to get herself and her allies to their new hideouts. She originally leads the attack against the Keepers in Toontown, but forfeits leadership to the Queen. Tia Dalma instead focused on the spell needed to resurrect Maleficent.

Tia Dalma made her debut appearance in the Kingdom Hearts series in Kingdom Hearts III , reprising her role from At World's End. She is voiced by Leslie L Miller.

Analysis and reception

Tia Dalma has been compared to the Erzulie from Haitian folklore, a mysterious and seductive spirit linked to the sea. [2] As a highly sexualized exotic female character, she was said to represent the romanticized colonial era perception of the Caribbean, and her relationships with the pirates to mirror the power dynamics of colonial conquest. However, as noted by critics, Tia Dalma actually has the upper hand in these power dynamics due to her "dominion over masculine energies", and the pirates' attempts to gain control over her by entrapping her in a human body are eventually futile. [2] Heike Steinhoff compares her to the goddess Calypso, though her power is circumscribed by her being kept inside her hut, and she notes that her character borrows from "'racial' and ethnic stereotypes which connect African and South-American descent to elements of nature and supernatural powers". [4]

Critics also compared her character to Yoda from Star Wars due to the fact that both characters are swamp-dwelling eccentric sages with peculiar speech patterns. [5]

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  1. Naomie Harris interview on World's End
  2. 1 2 3 Nevins, Andrea Shaw (2019). Working Juju: Representations of the Caribbean Fantastic. University of Georgia Press. pp. 52–53. ISBN   9780820356105.
  3. Moore, Roger (26 May 2007). "The actress behind Tia Dalma's black teeth". Orlando Sentinel . Retrieved 8 Mar 2017.
  4. Steinhoff, Heike (2011). Queer Buccaneers: (de)constructing Boundaries in the Pirates of the Caribbean Film Series. LIT Verlag Münster. pp. 74, 93–94. ISBN   9783643111005.
  5. Carroll, Larry (25 May 2007). "Star Wars: At World's End? Pirates' Flicks Look A Lot Like Another Trilogy". MTV.