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Summary / Analysis
Times of India
: Set in 1820, this is the story of a whaling ship that meets with disaster in the then-uncharted Open Ocean. Eager to fill the Essex's hold with whale oil after an initially disappointing catch, Captain George Pollard, Jr. (Walker) and first officer Owen Chase (Hemsworth) are driven by greed to venture out into treacherous waters. It is poetic justice then, that one of the very creatures they are hunting wrecks their ship as well as the crew.
: This film is set in a time when things like ethical concerns regarding the brutality of whaling, were non-existent. Back then concepts like species being endangered probably didn't exist. In today's world, whaling is banned almost globally. But back then, as depicted in the film, whaling by itself was probably more dangerous for the crews than the whales. A large sperm whale could reduce the wooden ships then in use, to matchwood. And that's exactly what happens here, when Pollard, Chase and their fellow sailors are dumb enough to try and bite off way more blubber than they can chew. When they set out from Nantucket and head on down the Americas to a spot of ocean 200 miles off their planned course, they find themselves in a veritable whalers' paradise. But an alpha-male bull sperm whale proceeds to teach the sailors the lesson of a lifetime.
The story does play out a little in flashback, as one of the survivors of the ordeal, Thomas (Gleeson) recounts their reckless tale. The period detailing (even things like the era's spoken word accents) is superb and the performances pass muster, but are nothing special. The 3D certainly helps a lot, especially in the whale-hunting as well as the underwater sequences. But ironically enough, you might end up rooting for the whales instead of the humans! After all, the crew only got what they deserved. And when the sailors are left for the dead, driven almost insane and at nature's mercy, you don't feel any empathy for them. That said though, this is definitely a gripping tale that's worth watching.
The film is based on a true story of an American whaling ship Essex that was attacked by an enraged sperm whale. It was this incident that inspired the tale of Moby Dick.
To prepare for the role of starving sailors, the cast, under the supervision of a nutritionist, ate just 500 calories a day.
Cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle hid small cameras throughout the set of the film, so the actors never really knew when they were in the frame.
In order to create a similarity in their accents, Tom Holland had a couple of sessions with Brendan Gleeson, who plays the adult version of his character.
This is the sixth film directed by Ron Howard that is based on a true story. The other films were Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man, Frost/Nixon and Rush.
In order to realistically portray the sperm whale and to understand how whales move and act, the visual effects team of the film worked with a couple of universities.
A part of this film has been shot in the Canary Islands. Moby Dick, which was directed by John Huston, was also shot in the Canaries.
In the winter of 1820, the New England whaling ship Essex was assaulted by something no one could believe: a whale of mammoth size and will, and an almost human sense of vengeance. The real-life maritime disaster would inspire Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. But that told only half the story. "In the Heart of the Sea" reveals the encounter's harrowing aftermath, as the ship's surviving crew is pushed to their limits and forced to do the unthinkable to stay alive. Braving storms, starvation, panic and despair, the men will call into question their deepest beliefs, from the value of their lives to the morality of their trade.
The extraordinary journey of the Essex and her crew was chronicled by Nathaniel Philbrick in his book In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex. The author and historian, who calls Nantucket home, had a long-held fascination with the industry that had put the small Massachusetts island on the map. "The book grew out of my curiosity about how it was back in the day when Nantucket was the capital of American whaling. This was a story that got under my skin," says director Ron Howard. In recent years, modern society has come to understand that whales are sentient beings, with highly developed intelligence and emotions. But screenwriter Charles Leavitt, who also shares story credit with Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, points out that you have to view the livelihood of these men through the prism of times past. "This is not a movie that glorifies whaling; on the contrary, it shows how brutal it was," he states.
"The whaling industry of the early 19th century was essentially the oil industry before someone figured out how to drill a hole in the ground to get oil from the earth. Whale oil lit the lamps of America and Europe. They rocked their babies to sleep in cribs made out of whale bone; their furniture, women's corsets, and a myriad of other essentials were by-products of whales. But the lives of the men on board these whaleships were expendable, nothing more than entries on a company balance sheet.
"The story has been described as 'man versus nature,'" Leavitt continues, "but the fact is there should really be no 'versus' because humans are a part of nature. However, that was unfortunately not the prevailing attitude of Western society at that time. They believed man had dominion over nature and that included all animals. Whales were nothing more than a commodity to be harvested."
Set in 1820, In the Heart Of The Sea is the story of a whaling ship that meets with disaster in the then-uncharted Open Ocean. Let's see what Tweetizens thought of the film...
Watched #InTheHeartOfTheSea last night. Was okay-ish IMO. Expected a lot more and went for #IMAX. Wasn't worth paying more than double.