In the Heart of the Sea

"Monsters... are they real? Or did the stories exist only to make us respect the sea’s dark secrets?”

There have been a number of stories written about the tragedy of the whaling ship The Essex. The captain wrote about it. His first mate wrote about it. And as it turns out, one of the cabin boys wrote about it as well. The recounting by this cabin boy, Thomas Nickerson, became the primary source for Nathaniel Philbrick’s 2000 novel “In the Heart of the Sea,” which was the source for the 2015 film version. It’s hard to argue with many of the facts as reported in the sources because they’re generally comparable. The film, however, takes more licenses with accuracy. Did it need to? Or does it work this way? Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we continue our Aquatic Killers series with Ron Howard’s 2015 film In the Heart of the Sea.

We talk about why this film feels like a perfect film for our wheelhouse… and debate about why it fell so flat in the end. We look at changes made to the original story and wonder if the changes work or make it worse. We chat about the performances from the solid cast… and ponder how almost every one of them can butcher the accent so much. We discuss the whaling and sailing aspects of the film and how generally impressed we were with their depictions. We talk about sperm whales and the realities of them. We look at the construction of the script and how it feels like it peaks midway through. And we look at technical aspects that work for us – Roque Baños’ score – and that we struggled with – some of Anthony Dod Mantle’s cinematography choices.

It’s a film that’s engaging to watch but feels like it has constant problems. We find it to be an interesting watch, but largely leaves us flat. It provides for a great conversation though, so check it out then tune in! The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins!

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