In the Heart of the Sea | Kilburnlad | Film | Reviews

In the Heart of the Sea

My first visit to the cinema in 2016 and we saw In the Heart of the Sea.

In the Heart of the Sea

The film is based on Nathaniel Philbrick's 2000 non-fiction book of the same name, about the sinking of the American whaling ship Essex in 1820, an event that inspired the novel Moby-Dick.

Herman Melville, the subsequent author of Moby Dick, visits Thomas Nickerson, the last survivor of the whaleship Essex's last voyage. Nickerson has previously refused to discuss with anybody the events of that voyage, and it's only when his wife intervenes that he agrees to do so.

As he recounts the story, the film takes us back to that fateful voyage. Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth) is first mate to Captain George Pollard. Chase is an experienced whaler who had been promised his own captaincy, only to be denied by the parachuting in of Pollard, from an established whaling family. There is animosity from the off, which nearly costs them the ship fairly early into the voyage. After an early success they stop off in Ecuador, where a Spanish captain recounts visiting 'Offshore Grounds' some 2000 miles away, but where his ship was destroyed by a white whale. This is scoffed at as a 'mariner's tale' by the crew of the Essex and they set off to find the whales.

They indeed do find the whales, but the white whale finds them, with catastrophic results. What follows is a story of endurance and survival. The means by which those who did survive managed to pull through struck at the heart of the Christian values of the time, and it was these events that had caused Nickerson never to discuss what had transpired.

It is difficult to say more without spoiling the film for you, but be assured that the book Moby Dick was a work of fiction that drew heavily from the story of the Essex. But Melville chose not tell the whole factual story as I suspect he realised that not only would that have been a breach of Nickerson's confidence, but that it also would not have been palatable to the audiences of the day. The book was nevertheless acclaimed as an outstanding work of literature.

Chris Hemsworth lost 40lbs to play the role and is quoted as saying that it was "physically and emotionally the hardest movie that I've been a part of..."

Reviews have not been spectacular, but don't let that put you off. It's a good tale with some impressive effects.

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