Reviewed by: David Simpson
greed and covetousness
blood lust for killing whales
moral problems with the old whaling industry
misuse of resources
whales in the Bible
Are real whales vindictive?
JONAH—How could Jonah survive three days in the belly of a “whale”? Answer
How would you respond to being stranded at sea?
battle for survival due to disaster
cannibalism in an attempt to survive
If a Christian commits suicide, will they go to Heaven? Answer
questioning deeply held beliefs
|Featuring:|| Chris Hemsworth … Owen Chase
Cillian Murphy … Matthew Joy
Ben Whishaw … Herman Melville
Brendan Gleeson … Old Thomas Nickerson
Tom Holland … Young Thomas Nickerson
Frank Dillane … Owen Coffin
Charlotte Riley … Peggy
Paul Anderson … Thomas Chappel
See all »
Enelmar Productions, A.I.E.
See all »
|Distributor:||Warner Bros. Pictures|
“Based on the incredible true story that inspired Moby-Dick”
“In the Heart of the Sea” is a recount of facts behind the Herman Melville American classic, Moby Dick. We are introduced to a young Herman Melville who is seeking the details of the whaling ship, The Essex and the story of the giant whale who doomed them. He meets the only living survivor of that voyage, Tom Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson), a morose and guilt-ridden man who is reluctant to give up any details.
Despite this, we are thrust into the story of The Essex, it’s captain, Pollard (Benjamin Walker), and the protagonist, Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth). Chase had been promised the captaincy of a whaler, and he finds this vow reneged upon, and himself now a first mate to man who has never captained before. Facing each other’s enmity, and the expectations of providing 2000 barrels of whale oil, The Essex sets out. The story from that point on is where the fiction becomes fact regarding the giant whale.
The film is brought to you by director Ron Howard (“A Beautiful Mind,” “Apollo 13”). Firmly established, he gives you plenty of solid actors, a plethora of wistful scenery, and one enormous whale. The entire film reminded me of old paintings from that era, and you can get swept away by the sheer amount of detail in each scene. The script itself is very good, written by Charles Leavitt, who is responsible for the clever “K-Pax” and the gut-wrenching “Blood Diamond.”
Chris Hemsworth is a beautiful actor, full of poise and epic presence. He does strike me as being perhaps a little too imposing, and he does dominate each scene he’s in. His supporting cast provide ample layers, and performances by Cillian Murphy and Brendan Gleeson are eye-catching.
Here we hit upon morality. There are so few movies that leave me digging as to what could possibly offend. There is a sprinkling of language; God’s name is taken in vain a handful of times; all very much a PG-13 level. There is no use of the F-word.
It’s a time period of violence. Life was hard. Men, women, and children all faced extreme difficulties to make ends meet, and, in a time where success and pride was to be found at sea, many took that route. Any kind of sea-faring was dangerous, but whaling was one of the most dangerous of all. Harpooning the world’s largest living mammal, from a wooden ship will always provide risk.
Tom Nickerson himself is a 14 year old child, orphaned and thrown into a life of rough men and fear. To survive, he must do the unthinkable, and that raises two of the hardest things to watch in the film. Nickerson has to enter the head of the whale carcass to retrieve extra oil. It’s a fairly gruesome scene, where the stench and claustrophobia really penetrates beyond the screen. Secondly, there are two discussions over cannibalism that are intense, foreboding, and awful to watch.
The violence can be heavy at times. Men are drowned and crushed by the whale, shipwrecked and starved, and reduced to drawing the short straw to see who volunteers to die so they can be eaten to sustain the lives of their shipmates. This is all very hard to watch, but this was real life in the period. The violence is not glorified, or sustained.
There is one scene where a topless woman is seen to be carved very roughly into a piece of whalebone. It is brief and hardly memorable.
The key messages to be taken from “In the Heart of the Sea” is that greed destroys. In the 1820s, oil was only known to be found in the carcasses of whales. It was therefore, a great pay day for the average sea-faring man. Greed was founded by the owners of whaling companies, who were desperate to keep their business going at all costs. Owen Chase and Captain Pollard are challenged to lie about their experiences in order to keep oil profits booming. Chase and Pollard themselves, both greedy for control, and for reputation, make decisions that are based around desire and greed. Many of these backfire, at great cost to themselves, and the men on the ship.
We are given strong messages from God, to not allow our hearts to be overcome with greed for what we do not have. It leads to discontentment, which can lead to anger and other emotions, that can lead to greater sin actions. Both men question their place on the Earth and have a couple dialogs that raise spiritual matters. Are we God’s greatest creation and meant to rule the Earth and have dominion over it? Or are we just specks that should know our place in the universe and live with more humility? Or do we have to find a balance of the two? I was hugely impressed to find these lines in a film about a giant whale, but when men’s lives and existences are tested, these questions are asked. It just gave a whole new level to the film. It’s also one of the main reasons why I found this film so unoffensive. They were not slamming God, but they were also not putting blind faith in Him, which is the stereotypical antagonist/protagonist spiritual warfare that goes on.
In conclusion, if you are a fan of the great American novels, it’s a solid telling of the genesis of a novel. If you enjoy the classic, all-action, period piece films, you will probably enjoy it. I think there are some great life lessons to be brought up after seeing it, or if you just want a good evening out, it’s there for you, as well.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.