To quote Barney (not the purple one, but the HIMYM one), In the Heart of the Sea is… legendary. It tells the story of the story behind Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, that of the 1820 (mis)adventures of the whaling ship Essex. Off the coast of Nantucket (where all the good whaling stories live!) the Essex encounters excitement and tragedy in pursuit of an epic white whale.
Directed by the legendary Ron Howard, the film is based on Nathan Philbrick’s non-fiction account, adapted into a screenplay by Blood Diamond’s Charles Leavitt. With admirable performances by Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Brendan Gleason, Cilian Murphy, and Ben Whishaw, the film moves scenically, beautifully forward through the narration of the lone survivor of the Essex.
While we hear all through this narration, dialing the clock hands back decades, the beauty of the sea (or at least the immense sound stage) allows us to feel like we’re really out their whaling. While the profession is now (mostly) illegal, it still feels like a movie that throw’s back to Master & Commander or other “manly” films. Is it quite the knock out? Not necessarily. But it still entertains.
Like any ‘before and after’ film, there’s the action prior to the confrontation with the whale, and the repercussions left afterward. We know that there’s a cost for such a pursuit, but these brazen sailors seem destined to face down the whale, even if it costs them everything. In the end, that’s the takeaway: when abandoning all caution, we need to consider the cost.