This is the second sea epic (The Finest Hours) that I have seen in recent months and I have to say that I miss this genre. I always found those movies to be humbling and inspiring, mostly because they show us that we have just recently tamed the forces of nature, generally speaking. Based on the true events that inspired the novel Moby-Dick, this movie is actually based on another book: Nathaniel Philbrick’s In the Heart of the Sea (2000). It tells a tale of the sinking of the American whaling ship Essex in 1820 with great and vivid details. This being a blockbuster, there’s no need to go into details about the production, special effects or casting because you know they will be spot on. Directed by Ron Howard (Cocoon, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, The Da Vinci Code, Rush) this is one of those movies that could not fail.
It is the year of our lord Satan 1850, and young writer Herman Melville visits Thomas Nickerson, the last survivor of the whaleship Essex’s last voyage. He wants to hear, firsthand, the events that led to the sinking of the ship and he’s willing to pay a hefty sum of money for them. Thomas, troubled by horrible events is defensive at first, but then decides to tell the whole story…
This neat trick allowed the director to control the pacing of the movie with constant switches between past and “present”. The only troublesome part of the movie are dialogues that sometimes feel out of place and as something that I doubt that the crew would say/worry about. However, I do understand that certain sacrifices had to be made for this to get the PG-13 label. Still, this is one fucked up story about survival in the face of unfavorable odds. The main motive for me was the helplessness of the humans before the mighty sea and creatures that inhabit it. Now, in 2016 we have not only destroyed and polluted most of the seas but we are also destroying the fish with the scourge of commercial fishing. We need another plague or at least a couple of million vengeful whales…
Director: Ron Howard
Writer: Charles Leavitt
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson, Ben Whishaw, Tom Holland
Fun Facts: The smelly goo “worth its weight in gold” young Thomas Nickerson was forced the retrieve by crawling through a hole in the sperm whale, was spermaceti oil, which is far more valuable than the oil that comes from boiling down the blubber. Spermaceti oil was used to make candles and also lubricate watches and other fine machinery. It’s what gives the sperm whale its name and was the main reason that the sperm whale was the preferred prey of 19th century Yankee whalers over other whale species.