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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Movie Review: In the Heart of the Sea

In the Heart of the Sea
Village Roadshow Pictures
122 mins.
Released: December 11, 2015
Rated: PG-13

In the Heart of the Sea is a movie production of the book by the same name by Nathaniel Philbrick. I was super excited to see this film as I very much enjoyed the book and there is never anything wrong with looking at Chris Hemsworth for two hours! However, I was a little concerned with how well he would be able to pull of some sort of acting that didn’t rely on just his good looks to get by. I was also excited to see it on the big screen which would make the experience more powerful and the gigantic nature of the whale.

For those of you that don’t know, In the Heart of the Sea follows the story of the Whaleship Essex and the fate of the men after their ship was struck by a whale. There were moments that worked for me and some of those that didn’t. I really enjoyed how the story was framed, which wasn’t something that was in the book; a young Herman Melville has sought out Thomas Nickerson, one of the survivors of the wreck, and wants him to tell his story. The actual story of the wreck plays out as Nickerson retells it, and there are a few times throughout when it cuts back to the “present” day which keeps you connected to both stories. I thought the film well captured the crucial parts of the tale and did a good job of keeping the story forward moving. Additionally, the setting of Nantucket looked amazingly real. We had just been there a couple months before and honestly the skyline, while aged, looked a lot like the actual houses and buildings that remain there today, to include what is now the Nantucket Whaling Museum. Really, I thought everything looked beautiful, the colors, the atmosphere, etc.

However, there were some parts that I felt were unnecessarily overdramatized. So, in the film, the whale appears to be following the sailors throughout their plight after the initial incident. Having read the book, I knew this wasn’t what happened, but beyond that it seemed ridiculous that an animal would follow these men slowly across the space of the whole ocean just to continue to harass them after the initial incident was over. I got that it was for the drama and maybe was more psychological than reality, but it killed that for me. The performances were good, nothing spectacular or that expressly stands out either way.

Ultimately, I think this film suffered some because of the timing of the theatrical release, but I would watch it again for sure.

As I have shared the trailer for the movie before, I’m going to share a series of clips from the film to give you a better feel for it.

As a side note, if you are interested in reading a firsthand account of the sinking, there is Beneath the Heart of the Sea by Owen Chase (who was portrayed by Chris Hemsworth).

Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. I am curious...but I would be on the side of the whale and not care for the humans one bit.

    1. With a film like this that is based on a true story and a way of life back then, I suspend my modern ways of thinking, because your really have to; it was a different world and way of life. It was a job, a way to light their homes, etc. I thought they did a very good job of portraying the way life was and something that for whatever the perceptions today are, it was a significant part of US and specifically New England history. I mean, Nantucket pretty much became a bustling city based on the whaling industry.


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