Contrary to the ignorance of popular belief I discovered on telling people I had watched this film, and having them turn up their nose at me for having sat through a motion picture of Moby Dick (despite none of them having actually read Moby Dick). In the Heart of the Sea is not Moby Dick. The film is based on the true story of the event that inspired Moby Dick. There’s a whale of a difference.
The premise of the story can more or less be summed up in one sentence; A ship full of whale hunters fall prey to their hunted, and must find their way back to civilisation with their sanity, and their morals intact.
I don’t want to delve any further into the storyline or risk ruining the small threads of characteristics, circumstances and fate of the crew of the Essex, but I will say that overall it was very solid film. Considering the pacing and the situations that needed to be covered, the running time was perfect, I didn’t feel as if there was anything left to be told, and I had no feeling of disappointment. I could argue, with these points in mind, that the film was average at best, but I feel the word solid, defines it better.
I liked that the tale was told from the point of view of a mere observer, a survivor of the ordeal whose bad luck it was to set sail on the maiden voyage of the Essex. It made the focal characters; Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth) and George Pollard Jr. (Benjamin Walker) stand as omnipresent metaphors of right and wrong. The narrator watching as they each found different ways to deal with the hand fate had dealt, like clashing titans causing claps of thunder to the quivering humans below.
When I found out that this film had themes of cannibalism I was expecting a Lord of the Flies type of situation, men in loin cloths, dirty and sweaty and driven mad after months of running amok on a barren island with only one means left of survival. Instead I found beauty in the expected grotesque, as I felt for the characters, their situation, and their ability to do what needed to be done. It plagued a question within myself; what would I do in order to survive? What would I sacrifice for those around me, and could I have the will to go on when all hands pointed to defeat.
I first saw a teaser trailer for this film sometime in the late months of 2014, since then there has been more or less nothing to build up the momentum of its release date. Sure In the Heart of the Sea would ultimately and predictably be dwarfed by the release of Star Wars; The Force Awakens, but it felt like they didn’t even try to compete, which is why Ii think it still hasn’t made back it’s budget in the Box Office. For all the people that went to see Star Wars, there were just as many that didn’t care, and that is the market they should have tapped into. Perhaps then there would be less pompous people sharing their unwanted opinion of how they would not be watching Moby Dick.