In the Heart of the Sea (Ron Howard, 2015)
Moby-Dick doesn’t have the weight of heritage on me that I guess it has on Americans — default answer, got but not read, and I confess I never got much beyond the stuff by the sublibrarian at the start, let alone to “Call me Ismael.”
Phones in the nineteenth century?
I gather it’s about a man chasing a whale and it’s responsible for a coffee shop chain; post-Rainbow Warrior and Heathcote Williams you cannot help be feel sorry for the whale.
I mean, he’s not event credited in the cast, for fuck’s sake.
So this is the story behind the story of the hunt for the Dickster — Melville (Ben Wishaw) turns up at the guest house owned by the drunken Thomas (Brendan Gleeson), sole survivor of the ill-fated Essex whaling expeditition, in search of a story. (We really don’t want to know what he did to get hold of the idea for Billy Budd.) The camera wobbles, as if we’re at sea.
So then we flash back to Thor and his pregnant wife; he’s going to sign onto a whaling ship, e pectins to be captain, but usurped by someone who is someone’s son. These guys are gonna clash. And behind them is Nantucket, all CGI and stuff, and alongside them are all kinds of prominently-boned actors who can only act in nineteenth-century era movies.
Hi ho — the life of a sailor and rum, buggery and the lash.
Little of all three.
There’s a storm to test them and then the first whale, before they hear tell of a majorly big behemoth, who is minding his own business in the Pacific. Who gets understandably narked when they disturb him.
And then it’s all boo hoo hoo.
Of course, this is all told from the point of view of greenhorn Tom the Cabin Boy, even though he isn’t in every scene.
And lots of CGI.
Indeed, there’s a moment when you forget yourself and wonder why a hobbit and Aragorn have gone to sea.
Of course, Wishaw and Gleeson are almost in a different movie to the rest of the cast. Me, I was rooting for the whale.
Maybe I need to go away and watch Moby Dick.