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  • edalweber4 September 2007
    Warning: Spoilers
    When I finally saw this on TV recently, I wasn't expecting much, but it was even worse than I thought it would be.No redeeming features whatsoever.Even the special effects were bad.In the 1956 movie the whale had a genuine air of menace.Here it was just a big white lump moving through the ocean.One of the idiot features of the movie was that everyone addressed the narrator as "Ishmael".Both the book and the 1956 movie made that plain that that was a symbolic name, not his real one.Queequeeg in Huston's version is an impressive, dignified man.Here he is just a wild eyed lunatic.The novel is a morality play, and John Huston kept that flavor in his version.Nothing of that in this version. The actor who plays Starbuck is not even remotely as good as the one in the 1956 version(but that is generally true of the whole cast),and totally fails to convey the true motivation of the character.In the book, and in the 1956 movie, Starbuck says"Our mission in life is to provide oil for the lamps of the world.And as long as we perform that task to the best of our abilities,we are performing a service for mankind,and that is pleasing to God." And then he says that forsaking that to assist the Captain in personal vengeance is a perversion of that.But in this version Starbuck seems only concerned that they are losing money.There is a sort of driving spirit in the book, that is conveyed in the 1956 movie,that is totally absent in this,nothing but a bizarre hodgepodge.
  • Usually I don't expect much out of movies made for TV. They're seven acts, instead of the traditional three, which makes plotting difficult. They work on miniscule budgets, and usually use actors on their way up or their way down. Not to be compared with theatrical motion pictures - apples and oranges. However, the exception proves the rule.

    This is an epic telling of the Melville story. Okay, most of you probably had a bad experience reading the novel. You end up asking why Ahab was prepared to give his life for catching or killing the great albino whale. The answer is that Ahab and the Whale are inexorably bound in life. The whale is Ahab's grab for the eternal brass ring, one that eludes him time and again.

    First: Best motion picture score I've ever heard for a TV Movie. Second: This picture is filmed like a theatrical, meant to be projected on a large screen. Third: My dear friend, Patrick Stewart who doesn't know how to give a bad performance. Patrick, like the whale is a force of nature, not to be denied. I've directed Patrick on a number of occasions and there's none of the nonsense you hear about the whims of great actors. Patrick comes to work prepared and when he makes a suggestion you take it very seriously.

    I don't care about the other online reviews putting the knock on Melville or his story. What have any of us done recently that will live for more than a century and a half. That my friends is the mark of greatness. It's an elusive butterfly that anybody who gives their life to the creative arts covets and strives to achieve. I give it a ten and defy any reader of this review to tell me why it deserves a scentila less.
  • When I sat down to watch a new version of an old classic, I was not quite certain what to expect,particularly from a TV movie. Having seen some of the names listed in the cast, I was hopeful. Happily, I was not disappointed. Not only was the acting superb, but the cinematography was beautiful and the soundtrack stirring.

    Patrick Stewart was quite compelling as Ahab and his rendering of a man possessed by his inner demons was excellent. However, it was Ted Levine's Starbuck who truly stole the show. He said more with just a glance than most actors can with an entire dialogue. One truly felt his emotional and spiritual turmoil. Hopefully this very fine actor will have more roles of this caliber in the future that are worthy of his talent.

    The rest of the cast was excellent as well. All in all, a very enjoyable viewing experience and a movie I will return to again and again.
  • There has been some debate as to what precisely Melville meant by the story of Moby Dick. On one hand, it is a whaling story which is largely based on shipping legend and fact. On another level, there is a lot of reference to Moby Dick the whale being self-referential to the book itself (white beast with black blood, he describes the whale as being a large book at one point). Ultimately, though, most readers find a two pronged story which is search for God on one hand (Ahab's need for revenge and Ishmael's need for purpose and love, note that both names also refer to biblical characters) and is the passionate bonding between males on the other. Unfortuneately, it is in these two areas that the movie does not quite portray the book with due respect.

    Now, there is plenty of bonding and Ishmael does sort of get jostled around as per normal, but Melville did not want this to be the standard group of "older men ragging the new". These men, in the book, developed a passionate bond for one another. Ishmael's deep loneliness lead to his deep love for his fellow crew.

    As for the search for God, the movie has some of the key scenes to suggest Ahab wants to slay the greatest of God's creatures because he feels his life has been failed and to suggest needed to get away because his life had no meaning. Yet, for the most part, the scenes become much more "sea adventure" oriented and I am not sure that there is much hey could have done to fix it considering the media of choice. I think they could have at least given Father Mapple more passion in his scene and the painting at the beginning (which suggests both the three crosses of Christ and a whale killed by a the three masts of a ship at the same) which offers a great thematic moment could have done more besides show up briefly as it did. It is almost as though they expected one to have read the book and to know what they were talking about.

    Finally, as far as the movie's lacks go, they cut out most of the (usually tongue-in-cheek) humor of the book.

    Now, as a made for TV movie, it is good stuff. Some of the acting is pretty sketchy at times and there are a few places where the special effects flat out fail in their purpose, but overall the movie is worth watching. Stewart plays a different version of Ahab than what I pictured, but at the same time his version has a lot of life and passion which is good. The other acting had moments of perfect time and moments of almost the opposite, but no scene comes directly to mind where the movie "cracks".

    The pacing of the movie actually sort of improves upon the stop-go style of the book.

    I think some of the visuals were a little less gory than they should be (this is a violent tale with a good deal of blood and despair in the original) but most of the cues are there for those who have read the book.

    Because of such things as this, I almost feel as though one needs to read the book to fill in the gaps, or the story does not get the treatment it deserves. But, as long you know more of the depth of the story, the movie is a decent vessel for which to carry it in. 7/10
  • 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.
  • TV movies are often flat and rushed. Not this one!

    Patrick Stewart is amazing as Ahab. The actor slowly disappears and before our very eyes emerges a true monster -- a man who knows what he is doing and could stop himself, but does not. This is the real horror and tragedy of Ahab. It is also our own horror and tragedy because we all have within us what drives Ahab -- namely, pride and ego.

    The FX are grand and the cast is excellent. It is a truly worthy re-make of the enduring classic.
  • I watched this immediately after finishing the book, and all I can say is that I am a bit baffled.

    There were quite a lot of changes made in this version, compared to the book. Now, while this is a pretty normal thing, most adaptations require changes, I must say that all the changes made here were for the worse.

    All the ways this movie/mini-series differs from the original book are bad. I cannot understand why the makers of this film made the changes they made. It seems to me they cut out the very depth of the story.

    Most of the characters, for example, were more shallow, more over-the-top, like caricatures of the originals. This ruins the mood and the atmosphere of the story. Granted, the at times ridiculous language in the book does a bit of the same in the original, but not nearly as badly as the style of this adaptation.

    I feel that the whole core of the book Moby Dick is the character of Ahab, and his dual nature. He is hell bent on killing the whale, but also, deep down, a good man. Now, for some reason, the latter aspect of the character was much down-played in this version. The beauty of the original story is Ahab's own struggle with his obsession, and all the rest of the events in the story are just reflections of this internal struggle. This version does itself a disservice by not following the original on this.

    The book has it's problems, it's long and tedious, but the story within is a far better one than the one told by this adaptation.
  • I must reiterate the remarks made by Mr. Vaugh Birbeck. This made-for-TV version of Moby Dick misses the mark by a mile and then some. All of Birbeck's points are valid, but I'll add a few of my own.

    Moby Dick is about a lot of things – obsession, revenge, objective evil, the nature of existence – the novel is so pregnant with meaning both within and below the text that it has become a byword for significant literature. It is the perennial head-scratcher which has introduced generations of students to the richness of the English language as an artist's palette of tones and colors. Captain Ahab is Socrates run amok. He has seen beneath the façade of mere things to glimpse a sublime Truth, which isn't simply a benevolent deity, but a horror show of forces vast, inscrutable and infinitely hostile.

    But Moby Dick is also about whaling. On top of everything else it's a story of mariners and ships and the trade of whaling as it was experienced by Melville himself. Director Franc Roddam doesn't seem to realize this. Evidently he has so little regard for the source that he doesn't feel the need to make the Pequod a real ship from a real place on a real whaling voyage with real whalers aboard. Instead we get a rather unconvincing studio prop for a ship, miscast actors with slipshod direction for a crew, and the classically trained Patrick Stewart struggling with a wretched screenplay that preserves little of Melville's language. Watch the 1956 John Ford production with Gregory Peck in the role of Ahab instead. Even though it is only 116 minutes long Ford's direction of a masterful screenplay by the brilliant Ray Bradbury really gets under the skin of the novel.
  • I rented this remake with high expectations.

    I was disappointed.

    In four hours, they failed to tell half the story Huston and Bradbury got so perfectly right in the 1956 classic.

    Huston's classic is a little dated, particularly in terms of special effects that look like the miniatures they in fact are. While the CGI whale in this remake is a refreshingly-convincing manifestation of a 60-foot sperm whale, it's not Moby Dick.

    This movie is bright and colorful, and the whale's just a whale. The cast doesn't come across as seasoned whalers, it feels like actors playing weekend yachtsmen, thanks in no small part to a script that can't seem to respect the intelligence of its audience.

    Moby Dick is a dark, slow story of building, brooding menace, which makes the moments of action all the more thrilling and terrifying.

    This remake captures none of the atmosphere or colorful character or menace of Melville's classic. At its best moments, it's simply re-hashing moments that were were perfected 42 years before.

    If you want to see Moby Dick, see John Huston's 1956 masterpiece.
  • Any one who has read the book or seen the 1956 version are if for a terrible disappointment. Obviously made for TV with all the required commercial breaks to keep the viewer glued to the set; this production not only reinvents the original plot, but also adds in it's own "dark philosophy" of Ahab. Queequeg jabbers like a magpie, Starbuck is a lilly-livered character, and the crew is a mishmash of Africans, crazies, American Indian (?) and what have you. In essence, a waste of time.

    The 1956 version, though there are some deviations from the book, still gives the depth that Melville intended to portray. True, Moby Dick may be snazzier in the recent version, but he is PURE white, and looks very plastic. The 1956 whale at least had some age about him, especially since Ahab remarked "when you smell land, and there be no land." The pure white whale would be scentless as opposed to the white/greenish/brownish one in the earlier version.
  • The big mystery of Moby Dick has always been "What possessed Ahab?" In this treatment one has to ask "What possessed the writer and director?" When John Barrymore was making movies they new that as long as he was on the screen, no one cared what they called the darn thing, and no one cared if the "flicker" and the book was two different stories. But what possesses a modern writer to take one of the greatest classics in the English language and slice & dice it into this kind of pastiche? Knowing that 98& of Americans have NEVER read it, is not equal to "plausable deniability" UGH! Some excellent film work, otherwise (make the face QueQueg makes!)
  • kaibab16 November 1998
    This version of Melville's classic is a mess. I find it ruined by a gross mis-casting of Starbuck, by a mish-mash of accents, by poor acting on the part of all except Patrick Stewart. Admittedly it is a difficult work to adapt to cinema because of its richness and length, but I wish the producers hadn't cranked out a turkey. Also I found the special effects not so special and the editing sloppy. Although I saw previews for this version in a theatre, I now realize it was made for TV. Such watery slop.
  • What an awful film. Geez. I watched this in a film class and just plain hated it. As I watched this I couldn't help but think what Franc Roddam and Anton Diether thinking. I usually don't base a film on one specific thing and I didn't with this. The visual effects were terrible, the acting terrible and the story was nothing as the classic book or '56 adaption.

    Even Patrick Stewart couldn't bring the film out of the huge hole it dug . Everything for a bad film is used in this mini-series and it really shouldn't be seen by anyone. Nothing is explained and nothing really happens except a bunch of guys talking about a whale.

    Moby Dick. Starring: Patrick Stewart, Henry Thomas, Piripi Waretini, and Bruce Spence.

    1 out of 5 Stars.
  • Samiam328 June 2009
    If you felt that John Huston's film of Herman Melville's immortal epic was too old hat for you, I think you'll find what you are looking for in here. stunning photography, stronger acting, and dazzling special effects, Franc Roddam's Moby Dick, is not just one of the greatest TV movies but one of the greatest sea fearing pictures to come out of the last few decades.

    Moby Dick is one of those novels that everyone talks about but nobody has read. Herman Melville's 19th century New England maritime dialog would be difficult for most contemporary readers, but his story is just as strong in a movie form as it is in a 1000 page book, ergo a viewer could gain the same knowledge and understanding of all the themes, whaling, shipping and most of all human nature.

    I've never thought of Patrick Stewart as a great actor, but this is the strongest performance I've seen him give. His Captain Ahab is more colorful than Gregory Pecks, sometimes going over the top, but he does a better job of portraying the old captain as a madman Henry Thomas and Ted Levine also give good performances, and even Gregory Peck makes an appearance. Incidentilly this what the last movie he acted in.

    Even though the original Moby Dick is still impressive today, the special effects are weak and they show scientific inaccuracies regarding the movement of whales. A good balance of CG and animatronic makes Moby Dick in this film, move more elegantly, like a whale rather than a rubber model. Once again the film not only emphasizes the color of the whale but the size. Moby Dick is a Sperm whale, a species which grows to a lenght of about 50 - 55 feet. however this specimen looks closer to 100 feet . There are some great shots which provide a good hint of scale, one of which involves a whaling rowboat being crushed between the giants jaws

    If you can find this on DVD or catch it on television, I strongly recommend you see this, it might just blow you out of the water with awe.
  • Patrick Stuart wasn't bad as Captain Ahab, but not as good as Gregory Peck. In the scene where Ahab is telling his crew that he will chase the "white whale" virtually around the world, Stuart felt the need to shout. Peck, on the other hand, did it far more intensly by a withering look and more sterness in his voice and didn't shout. A far better performance.
  • Patrick Stewart gives an outstanding performance as the tragic and obsessed Captain Ahab. The film shines with a compelling storyline, talented cast, and stunning visual effects.
  • With the great exception of "The Love Boat," most movies or tv shows pertaining to ships navigating the rugged seas tend to be actioners. This cable telepic MOBY DICK suffers from not only a dull, stagy script, but builds very little, by way of any real suspense, as the movie progresses. It also lends true credence to the rule that "Special effects does not a movie make." In this case, not so humbling special effects. The performances ranged from lackluster to outright "pass the mustard" ham.

    Patrick Stewart, as Ahab, spouts a lot of his lust for revenge; and works the crew up for it, as well. Yet, it never feels convincing to the viewer. The deluge of very long, descriptive, seafaring phrases would have been fine, if colored with the backdrop of reality of the gritty conditions of life on the sea at that time. (Those being, but not limited to: rats, bad food, sporadic rape, extreme lack of personal hygiene, diseases, etc.) The platitudes were delivered so unconvincingly, they started to sound humorous, and that's NOT good for a serious yarn like this. Unfortunately, the only thing this overlong excercise did for me, was leaving me for a yearning for fish N' chips, hold the "hush puppies", please.

    To summarize, this version of MOBY DICK missed the boat.
  • I have read the previous reviewers comments and I agree that the screenplay for this version of Moby Dick was "dumbed down" for an American audience. But, you have to realize that most Americans nowadays are too illiterate and unread to take Melville's classic book on its own terms. Most Americans will even be unable to read Moby Dick all the way through and understand it. Their brains stupefied by decades of Stephen King and Harry Potter Books, the complex plot themes and character depth of Melville's greatest work (and also considered the greatest book in American Literature) are too much for your average American reader to even begin to understand. So, there is a capitalistic sense for the screenwriters to dilute and water down this wonderful story so it will be understood by "the mob". They want to make ratings not an artistic statement that most of their countrymen would be unable and unwilling to understand.

    Sad but true….
  • tangoviudo30 October 2002
    I was never a fan of John Huston's version of "Moby Dick," but it's a veritable masterpiece compared with this dreary TV movie. Everyone speaks in a booming falsetto, including poor Patrick Stewart, who needn't have. The CGI effects are supposedly an important part of the film, what with a computer-generated White Whale, among other things. But nothing meshes - a lesson to would-be CGI wannabes. And reducing Melville's novel to a mere yarn is sacrilege.
  • Warning: Spoilers

    I've never been sufficiently stirred to comment on a film on the IMDB before, but after watching this I was compelled to. Having recently finished reading the book for the first time (I'm 23 and British. I imagine it's a standard text at school in the US) I was impressed with the scale and sweep of the story, and eagerly hunted down the DVD to relieve my enjoyment of Moby Dick.

    Having just this second finished watching it, I'm stunned. This film embodies just about everything bad about made for TV films.

    So what went wrong? Well, the special effects aren't up to much - but it seems unfair to pillory a film for such things, the whale itself is fairly impressive...but the main problem is with the liberties taken with the story. It has been spliced up and messed about with in ways too numerous to mention here, and no-one else seems to have noticed this in the website reviews! Some examples : Moby dick appears half way through the film, where he occupies the last three chapters of the book. Ahab dies the death that Pharsee suffers in the book. Ezekiel at the beginning tells you exactly what will happen, rather than just giving vague warnings. Starbucks' role has been modified too, instead of thinking of shooting Ahab in his sleep he now nearly stabs him (why change that?) Moby Dick gets chased to the arctic....the list goes on... Patrick Stewart was obviously brought in as a name to lend the film some credibility, but is not an obvious choice for the role, and doesn't look particularly convincing, although at least he tries.

    If you haven't read the book, there is probably an interesting enough 3hrs for you here, if you have - save yourself the frustration and keep well away!
  • Nobody can expect Melville's novel to be brought to life on the screen; the story of the hunt is the bare skeleton of the novel; here, on video & TV, it's the whole whale, and a boorish and unpleasant whale it is. For 90 minutes everyone screams at everyone else (occasionally muttering darkly as if to catch their breath for the next shouting match). That in itself is enough to sink the movie. But also, the editing is terrible, the geography of the hunt is vague (except when the Pequod rounds Cape Horn in snow and ice), and the deeper implications of the novel are only hinted at in passing, as if to prove that the screenwriters are familiar with Melville's work. Read the book!!! Oh - the performances of Ahab and Starbuck are great. I think I'll watch this one again.
  • Moby Dick is one of my favorite novels & the 1950's film adaptation is one of my favorite films. There is something about the novel that I can read it again & again & never tire of it, always finding something new. The 1950's film is like that too--I must have seen it a dozen times at least & I could watch it again right now. So when I heard that a new version of Moby Dick would be on cable with Patrick Stewart, an honest-to-goodness decent actor, playing Ahab & Gregory Peck appearing as Father Mapple, I was delighted. TV-movies have a justified reputation for being of poor quality but on the cable networks, you are often able to find a gem mixed in with the mud & this sounded like it could be just such a gem.

    Unfortunately, this Moby-Dick is a hideous disappointment. The film goes wrong right from the beginning with a buffoonish, incompetent performance by the guy playing Queequeeg & a sad performance by Gregory Peck. Peck looks nothing like the great actor who could dominate films of all different types from Moby Dick to Pork Chop Hill, to westerns, etc. Instead, he looks like an elderly man reading lines. And the guy playing Queequeeg, despite his pre-release hype, is a poor actor, incapable of the intelligent, dignified performance of Frederick Ledebur in the older film.

    There is very little good I can say about this movie. It is quite likely even worse than the old John Barrymore version in which Barrymore, as Ahab, goes out in the Pequod, kills Moby Dick, & returns to New Bedford to get the girl. At least that film had the benefit of a sort of nostalgic old-time Hollywood humor. This film has...well...a shot of Queequeeg's naked buttocks for any who might enjoy it. And not much else.

    A vulgar atrocity that is best forgotten.
  • I've never seen any version of the classic tale besides this one so I can't really compare this version to any of the others. But it doesn't matter. This tv movie is excellent. The special effects are spectacular. There is superb acting from the cast, especially Patrick Stewart. Anyone who has seen Star Trek: First Contact would find it kind of ironic Stewart would be playing Captain Ahab. It's a worthy version of the classic book.
  • This American-Australian production was worse than reading the actual book! I had never seen a Moby Dick movie or read the book (even though I had tried!), so I sat down in front of the box to watch the first part of this mini-series. One hour in, I was still asking myself, when does it start? Unbelievably slow, with bad special effects and restricted scenery, the only good point about this remake was the acting. All involved were good, and it's a pity the team behind the movie didn't do such a good job. It may have attracted a wider audience for the second part. I looked at the votes and I can't believe that anyone gave it more than 5 out of ten, let alone 10. Did we watch the same film?
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