In The Heart Of The Sea is the story of the sinking of the Essex but it is so much more than that. As Brendan Gleeson says at the start it is the story of two men and the whale – the metaphor of their struggle. It reputedly inspired Herman Melville to write Moby Dick and hands up how many people have finished that classic? Quite! Like the literary epic this is a struggle to stay engaged through periods of boredom and CGI heavy scenes as you try to understand just what the heart and soul of this film is.
The film is based on Nathaniel Philbrick’s book: “In the heart of the sea: the tragedy of the whaleship Essex” set in Nantucket. It was sunk by a white whale – a leviathan.
“How does a man come to know the unknown” asks Herman Melville. Well Herman, the man gets on a boat and heads into unchartered waters is how! The film also serves as a historical lesson at just how perilous fishing and whale fishing for the oil was.
What’s the film about aside from a sinking boat? It’s a tale of greed and redemption. The crew set out to bring back 2,000 barrels of whale oil and somewhere along the way their ego gets the better of them and they believe themselves invincible. As the saying goes: belief is the death of reason.
Directed by Rom Howard with Chris Hemsworth as Owen Chase, the ship first mate and Benjamin Walker as Captain George Pollard, Ben Whishaw as Herman Melville, Brendan Gleeson as Tom Nickerson and Cillian Murphy as the mysterious Matthew Joy.
Certain characters are not fully formed on screen but I suppose that is in keeping with the idea it is a story of two men. The film is slightly old fashioned in the way it starts with Tom Nickerson telling his story to Herman Melville. The two principle actors embody their roles well but the problem is not much happens after, wait for it have I said too much, the sinking of the ship.
Set in the 1800s – the attention to detail is good but there is too much CGI and as I wasn’t viewing it in 3D it just looked slightly fuzzy. This is a film to watch in 3D. I’m not sure of the target audience for this film as I think young children and even teenagers would be bored especially during the scenes where the stranded crew just float, their eyes become more sullen and the lifeboats are just rocking in the middle of the ocean.
In The Heart Of The Sea is released in cinemas on Boxing Day, 26 December.
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