Ron Howard’s film which is based on Nathaniel Philbrick’s non-fiction book of the same name, purports to tell the story of the Essex, an American whaling ship that was sunk in 1820, and provided the source material for Herman Melville’s MOBY DICK. Very well executed, beautifully photographed and well acted by Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy, Tom Holland, Ben Whishaw and Brendan Gleeson, is a thrilling film to behold. Though at first reluctant to tell the tale for fear of what people would think, Thomas Nickerson, who had been fifteen on the Essex but now an old man, tells Herman Melville a tale that had only been hinted at for years, about how a whaling ship was sunk by an enormous great white whale and how the crew had to resort to cannibalism to survive in life boats before finally being rescued. This is a story of what man will do to survive the most harrowing of circumstances and how the consequences of being truthful can often times bring tremendous negative consequences. Those that did survive managed to go on with their lives but with this very dark tale haunting their innermost memories. I enjoyed the film, though was a bit turned off by the cannibalism, which is really more hinted at than shown, but is utterly realistic in it’s harsh and truthful portrayal of what life aboard these whaling ships must have been like. Much of the filming was actually done on the ocean which contributes to many of the spectacular sequences and the special effects looked completely realistic and frightening, contributing to the overall impact of this fine piece of filmmaking.
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