In the Heart of the Sea
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 he 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, as their captain searches for direction on the open sea and his first mate still seeks to bring the great whale down.
“In the Heart of the Sea” is a compelling movie about a quest and survival. For Herman Melville, this journey is about traveling to the lone survivor’s home of the ship Essex to find out the story of the fabled great white whale. Was it really that huge? What happened to the men? What details are not known? And, for one elderly man, who has had a drinking problem for awhile, this is his opportunity to continue to hide the harsh realities inside, or to finally open up the secrets of the journey which have haunted him for many years, so he can finally be at peace.
Chris Hemsworth plays Owen Chase, who has been waiting for a chance to be a captain of his own ship. He is told that, although the promotion was promised to him, he will have to wait on being captain and serve as first mate to a man named George Pollard (Benjamin Walker). Pollard is an up-and-coming seaman who is promoted too soon but, despite the friction between Chase and Pollard at first, Pollard comes to realize that Chase is an experienced man who holds the allegiance of those who serve under him. Due to the harsh realities and losses that they soon face, they eventually understand one another and form a bond.The movie dramatizes events such as sudden losses at sea, man’s battle against the forces of nature, loneliness, and desperation to survive, which includes the option of eating human flesh or perishing, and the choice of being marooned or taking a stand against the odds in order to have a fighting chance at living again. To add to all of these elements, a particular white whale seems to enjoy pursuing the men.
The movie is large in scope, somehow making the viewer feel as if he or she is traveling on the Essex and dealing with the storms at sea and taking in the beautiful sun reflecting on the sea when all is calm. The film weaves themes of loyalty and truth telling into its story. As Chase says in one scene, “abominations” were committed in order for them to survive — cannibalism in this case. Due to strong language and a few bloody scenes of violence, we are unable to award “In the Heart of the Sea” our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal.