Captain Ahab's descend into madness destroys everyone around him. This powerful character drew John Barrymore, Orson Wells and John Huston. This film has been called the best, most authentic version of Herman Melville's MOBY DICK.
Based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway. Santiago goes out on his usual fishing trip and makes a huge catch, the biggest of his life. Then a shark attacks and tries to steal his catch. ... See full summary »
Herman Melville's classic 1851 sea tale about the vengeful sea Captain Ahab who seeks to kill the great white whale who took his leg and is willing to forego the safety and endurance of his crew to do it. The tale is told from the vantage of the only surviving member, Ishmael, a young man who joins the crew of the Pequod for his first seafaring with the aid of his harpoonist friend, Queequeeg. Written by
John Sacksteder <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Hammer it good, mate. Don't want a leaky coffin!
I'll hammer your lips together, you little black weasel!
No, now, Cookie's right. Because if this ship sinks, it'll be 50 lively men fighting over one coffin, and that's a sight I don't want to miss!
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As a long-time fan of the 1956 John Huston film I was looking forward to seeing a new interpretation of what is recognised as a classic of world literature.
What went wrong? Well, it might have helped if the makers had respected the audience's intelligence and used (as Huston did) as much of Melville's language as possible. Alright, all viewers will understand the meaning of a "flat calm sea", but surely a "soft and dirge-like main" is so much more evocative. Worse still, Ahab's major speeches ("pasteboard masks" and "mild, mild day") are chopped by the writers and thrown away by the direction, leaving us with a story about a man who for some reason wants to chase one particular whale, his true motivation is completely lost.
Patrick Stewart did a decent job as Ahab given the circumstances but with that loss of motivation he lost the mythical, superhuman stature the character needs to give the story greatness. Gregory Peck was fine as Father Mapple (again, the sermon was chopped down until it was meaningless, depriving the actor of his best opportunity to make a lasting impression).
The supporting cast are best described as nondescript, ranting their dialogue. Starbuck is completely miscast. His opposition to Ahab is shown by surly sulking and droning on about the financial purpose of the voyage. He doesn't seem to realise the true nature of Ahab's obsession at all. Even the small but crucial appearance of Elijah (where Royal Dano had two superb minutes in 1956) is turned into a caricature who adds nothing to the mythical dimension of the story.
The effects were adequate although, for some reason I never felt the Pequod was actually moving, even in the storm scenes. Strange that a film set on a small sailing ship should feel to static.
As for Moby Dick himself, I've always felt that in Huston's film he was a *character* with an individual personality. In this version Moby Dick is just a whale, and that sums up the failure of the film as a whole.
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