This film featured an early, experimental use of widescreen known as Magnascope. As the boats were lowered for the first chase after the whale, the screen widened; then, as Moby Dick suddenly closed in on Captain Ahab, the screen returned to its normal size. This process had been used for selected sequences of important features at certain first run film run theaters since late 1926 when it was inaugurated with Old Ironsides (1926). There was no change in ratio. The screen got larger, by using a different lens, but lighting and magnification problems limited its use to special occasions.
Why... Why, Ahab Creely! You're crying!
The cover of Melville's novel is shown, then what is ostensibly the first page. But the text we are shown consists of statements about whaling in general and Moby Dick. The novel, however, is written in the first person, and its first line, establishing this, is one of the most famous in all literature: "Call me Ishmael."
The opening sequence when we see the Call-me-Ishmael-less paragraph is lifted from the earlier version, THE SEA BEAST (1926), which also took liberties with Melville's novel. It seems that MOBY DICK (1930) was a remake of this film more than an adaptation of the novel.