2010: MOBY DICK with Renee O'Connor as Dr. Michelle Herman

OTHER MOBY DICK FILMS

This is the seventh film depicting the tale of Moby Dick, originally told by Herman Melville in his 1851 novel. They are:

  1. MOBY DICK - 1930 - starring John Barrymore as Captain Ahab Ceely
    and Joan Bennett as Faith Mapple

    Apparently the studio didn't care for the novel and felt Ahab needed a love interest and better motivation. So in this version, Ahab (who has a last name!) falls in love with Father Mapple's daughter Faith. Then he gets his leg bitten off by Moby Dick. He (quite unjustifiably) feels that this has lost him the love of the fair Faith, and for that reason embarks on his obsessive quest to kill the whale.

  2. MOBY DICK - 1956

    This is the good one. With Gregory Peck and Richard Basehart. Directed by John Huston, who had planned to cast his father, Walter Huston in the role of Ahab. Alas the picture took too long to get to the production stage and when it finally did his father had been dead for four years. Orson Welles played Father Mapple.

  3. MOBY DICK - theatrical production on film - 1978

    With Jack Aranson and Paul Stanley.

  4. HAKUGEI- LEGEND OF THE MOBY DICK - 1997

    Japanese animated TV series set in outer space, with "whales" being large abandoned spaceships. Aired from 1997 to 1999.

  5. MOBY DICK - 1998 miniseries

    With Patrick Stewart and Ted Levine. Gregory Peck, who was Ahab in the 1956 version, was Father Mapple in this one. Got a Golden Globe for it too.

  6. MOBY DICK-THE TRUE STORY - 2002

    With Greg Atkins and Justin Chatwin. The story of the 87-foot whaler Essex which, in November 1820 was rammed and sunk by an enraged sperm whale. This was the story that inspired Herman Melville's novel.

And there are a few other versions in the works.

Actors Kim Min-hee and Hwang Jung-min will star in a Korean production of…Moby Dick. Which in this case is a figurative title for an action flick that involves an explosion and the journalists who attempt to uncover the truth about it.

Then there is Timur Bekmambetov (Nochnoy Dozor), who has been hired by Universal to produce an updated version of Moby Dick, and has that project on the back burner now because he is working on ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER with Tim Burton.

And yet another version for TV is in the works. This one will star Gillian Anderson, Ethan Hawke, Donald Sutherland, and William Hurt (as Ahab). (Scully, you may remember, called her father Ahab, and his nickname for her was Starbuck. Her dog was Queequeg.) No one is quite sure when this will air.

Poster from 1956 film Moby Dick

2010:MOBY DICK Poster

Director:     Trey Stokes
Producers:     Paul Bales, Stephen Fiske, David Michael Latt, David Rimawi
Screenplay:     Paul Bales
(Based on the Herman Melville novel "MOBY DICK")
Co-starring:     Barry Bostwick, Adam Grimes, Michael Teh, Matt Lagan
US Release Date:     23 November 2010
Length:     90 minutes
Genre:     Creature
Interesting Character Scale (Lorraine Beasely=0 Gabrielle=10}:     SEVEN
Best scene for ROC:     CALL ME MICHELLE

Fossils of a prehistoric sperm whale that once hunted smaller whales 13 million years ago have been found in Peru. The whale's ten foot skull and 14-inch teeth suggest a length between 43 and 59 feet. It is unlike the modern sperm whale which lacks functional teeth in its upper jaw. The giant species, now extinct, has been named Leviathan melvillei for obvious reasons.

Renee O'Connor in 2010: Moby Dick The film is not bad as low-budget sci-fi goes. There's plenty of action, some scientific basis for the creature (see above), and suspense is generated willy nilly. There's even some humour, such as Dr. Herman sleeping beneath a precariously dangling torpedo, and two black dudes on the deck of a submarine discussing whether they can relate to a white whale as a villain. (One can, one can't. The camera then focuses on Ahab's shock of white hair.)

If only they hadn't involved Herman Melville in this.

Melville's Ahab was more than a man with a fatal obsession. He was an eloquent spokesman for the doomed. There's a line in there somewhere (in the book not this film) about going out with a smile on your face. Ahab inspired his whole crew (save Starbuck) to do just that. In this film, the extremely blue-eyed Ahab seems motivated merely by insanity and hence garners no sympathy (from me at least).

GALLERY

Moby having a sub. the submarine Microcassette not quite asleep old blue eyes Renee O'Connor profile Watching the battle silver pendant windblown in the coffin

Dr. Herman (at least they didn't call her Dr. Melville Herman though Michelle is close) keeps trying to explain to Ahab that whales don't do this sort of thing unless prodded into it. Ahab just doesn't care. Sure he has followed her work on cetaceans, but only to further his mad quest. Not because he wanted to actually find out anything. The question that never comes up is just why does Moby Dick go about chomping on oil platforms and cruise ships which she clearly cannot eat. What comes to mind is something Carl Sagan said many years ago about whales.

Whales are verbal creatures. They sing to one another all the time, and their songs are the basis for their (rather complex) social organization. Sound travels faster in water than in air. About 4.5 times as fast. When the oceans were quiet, whales could communicate over very long distances. Then came the steamship and all that changed.

Steamships are noisy. Sailing ships made virtually no noise. The coming of the steamships cut each pod of whales apart from all the others. Imagine if radio waves were almost completely jammed. Imagine what that would do to our social organizations.

So I understand why this very very big whale might have been taking revenge on human aquatic technology. Truth is, the whale is really cool. It does some things that might be physically impossible, but by the end of the film it's hard not to root for Moby. Ahab is just irritating and his crew follow him probably only because of his big blue eyes.

The eye of Moby Dick Speaking of eyes, the close-ups of Moby's eye are supposed to make her seem threatening, I guess. They don't. The eye of Moby seems sad, dark, and wise. Remember NIGHT OF THE LEPUS? It was a "creature" film starring Janet Leigh and DeForest Kelley (of Star Trek), and it was about giant mutant bunnies. It quickly becomes apparent upon watching that film that bunnies are never scary, even if they are giant mutants. It seems that whales suffer from the same sort of irrevocable cuteness on a larger scale. Sharks are scary. Wales are not.

Renee O'Connor is certainly the most noticeable character in the movie. It has been said that her character is supposed to be Ishmael, and she does survive, but she is more a soothsayer (scientist) who tries to warn Ahab of his doom than she is a narrator.

NOTE: U.S. nuclear submarines are, with the exceptions of the U.S.S. Henry Jackson, and the U.S.S. Jimmy Carter, named either after American cities or American states. The Pequod was, in Melville's novel, named after the Pequot native american tribe which was wiped out in its entirety in the 17th century by European settlers.

The newspaper at the beginning of the film The date on the paper is apparently "Monday February 13, 1992. February 13 was a Monday in 1995 and will be again in 2012. In 1992 it was a Thursday. The story below the photo reads: "The Spanish fiancee of Chelsea footballer has called time on their seven year relationship. Elen Rives, who has two children with the England midfielder, is understood to...". That news is from 2009.