24 October 2016 | turnerwinkel
This is an unsuccessful effort with fine actors and beautiful views of the sea and sailing vessels. It is by far the most disappointing performance I have seen by William Hurt, an actor who has given us many fine performances. I suppose it is too much to hope that there will ever be a film that actually spends time on the essential things in the novel, since they are not that cinematic in nature. The most effective part of the film is the representation of Nantucket, replete with a scene from a church service. The ship's masthead on the pulpit is quite striking and authentic. Otherwise, this film struggles to take a new approach to an old subject, but the result is sometimes ludicrous. There are several instances of modern-day idioms which make one cringe, given the context of nineteenth-century speech (e.g. "I'm just messin' with you"). The crew members are shown gleefully singing sea shanties as if this is the real reason they have gone to sea, the camera zooms in on their faces so the audience will see how awestruck they are at the sight of a whale, and the computer-generated image of Moby Dick is just plain laugh-out-loud ridiculous. The crew shouting "Moby Dick, Moby Dick, . . ." sounds like something from a football pep rally. (You almost expect them to spell it out next "M-O-B-Y-D-I-C-K"). Ishmael's narration of the story is minimal, so much so that it seems almost out of place. The totally invented part about the child lost at sea and miraculously found is never explained or rationalized. How did he suddenly become separated and how could Ishmael possibly have known where to look? The film begins with a soon-to-be neurotic and obsessed Captain Ahab having dinner peacefully at home with his wife and child. The ship sets out from Nantucket for some reason. (In the book it is New Bedford. What on earth did this change hope to accomplish?) In short, this movie is part action film, part cartoon.