In the Heart of the Sea (12)
Directed by: Ron Howard
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy & Brendan Gleeson
A recounting of a whaling ship’s sinking by a giant whale in 1820 that would inspire the great novel, Moby Dick.
Set in 1850, Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw) encounters aging recluse and seaman Tom Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson)and asks him for his account of the sinking of the whaling ship Essex. Tom recounts when he was 16 years old, on his first ever voyage, the drama of whaling and, more horrifically, the crew’s encounter with a white whale that sank their ship and left the remaining crew stranded for 90 days.
In the Heart of the Sea is drama inspired by the true story (or events) surrounding the whaling ship The Essex; the port of Nantucket and even the interiors of bars are all brilliantly portrayed on screen in such a natural picturesque fashion that the audience can practically smell the paraffin oils and salt from the sea! The cinematography is a brilliant visualisation of the lone sea; from calmness by sunrise and sunset to the raging tempests that tormented the crew.
The acting is also fairly impressive with Chris Hemsworth portraying First Mate Chase and Benjamin Walker portraying Captain Pollard. Indeed this is a story of characters, though sadly the great whale barely gets a mention in the credits!
This is a film though that tries to provide the audience with a detailed and highly dramatic presentation of events that, as they unfold, become more desperate and, sadly, more sickening as the film’s two hour running time continues. There are a number of scenes (especially an aerial view that is certainly more than a nod to Jaws) that appear to highlight the more dramatic license route taken by Director Ron Howard.
The story itself proves the lengths to which men will go to to survive, though being familiar with both the original story, the novel Moby Dick, and probably one of the greatest fetes of human navigation (that of Captain Bligh sailing 3,500 miles unaided and with the same meager supplies the Essex had) , I found the story on screen to be more than a little tedious. There were a number of scenes early on that could have easily trimmed down this voyage (running time) and the later scenes showing the whale stalking the surviving launch boats looked more than a little silly when compared to the more gruesome scenes highlighted later on.
In the Heart of the Sea has been released close to the Christmas period to try and influence The Academy for Oscar nominations and, whilst the story itself is compelling (though a little hard to stomach), this is a film that is more for enthusiasts of the novel Moby Dick or those with a desire for historical naval adventures rather than high paced, dramatic performances.
4 out of 5 Nerds (For the superb cinematography and attention to detail)