Film Review: In the Heart of the Sea

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson

We have just watched Shark Week on Discovery at our house, so with fear of the ocean firmly in place, I allowed Chris Hemsworth to dip my toes back in the briny sea from the safety of my cinema seat.

In The Heart of The Sea is directed by Ron Howard and stars the aforementioned Chris Hemsworth as reluctant first mate Owen Chase and Benjamin Walker as entitled novice Captain George Pollard Jr. The film is based on a true story of whaling ship The Essex. The movie opens with Thomas Nickerson (Gleeson) – a drunken shell of a man – recounting his experience as a 14-year-old cabin boy on the doomed ship to author Herman Melville, who later went on to write a fictional novel inspired by the story: Moby Dick.

During this period, whale oil was as precious as gold and men spent years at sea risking their lives for it. Under pressure to achieve great results and having survived storms both upon the ocean and between the Captain and First Mate, the crew of The Essex ends up thousands of miles from anywhere and surrounded by whales. This is where we meet THE whale. Ron Howard’s impressive CGI whale makes for great escapism. From aerial shots to underwater manouvres, whenever this creature was on screen I was fearful and quiet, ready to believe I was looking at a whale as real as the actors trying to kill it.

For two hours we were swept up in a battle between man and beast, the tragedy of men lost at sea having to resort to extreme measures to survive, and the treacherous life of the whalers in the 1800’s. While to some viewers it may compare unfavourably to the book which the original story inspired, for someone who has never read Moby Dick it was a fascinating adventure and well worth the time it takes to watch.


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