Sunday, December 27, 2015


This one,  recent 2015 release, is STILL SHOWING in the theaters, and is coming soon to a DVD outlet near you.  We watched it on the big screen, hoping it would be a heartwarming Squidmas tale about the successful recruitment of Nantucket whalemen.


This is the nightmarish, Hollywooded-up version of the true story that was the basis of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville.   Melville was kind to us, bringing the Whale and his recruit inexorably together COME WHAT MAY.  In the end the recruitment was successful and the Whale got his man.  THERE WAS NO SUCH SUGARCOATING HERE. 

Unfortunately, most of the TRULY HORRIFIC aspects of the story were left intact, and apparently the director (Ron Howard) thought it wasn't PUNCHY enough as it really was, so they put their monkey heads together and MADE IT WORSE.  That is, from a Naked Ape standpoint.  But -- probably by accident -- they made the story worse from OUR point of view as well. 


>> In real life, the Essex did not explode.  But these days, if an adventure movie is made in America by Naked Apes, THERE NEEDS TO BE A BIG EXPLOSION. 

>> In reality, the barrels of whale oil leaked heavily during the sinking, covering the shivering recruits in a last-ditch attempt to wrap them in their DESTINY.  In reality, that message was LOST as completely as the Essex herself.

>> In the movie, the Whale that sank the ship followed the overloaded whaleboats for DAYS AND DAYS -- the way Bruce the Shark followed the Orca in Jaws.   But, mysteriously -- showing that Ron Howard and his film crew have NO CONCEPT of what really motivates us -- the Whale never made another move on the plucky survivors.  LIKE THAT WOULD REALLY HAPPEN!

>> In reality, after the Whale gave up in disgust, others stepped in to help -- an Orca, then a Shark, then a happy, inviting welcome wagon committee of Porpoises.  Each time, they got NO RESPONSE.  The humans aboard the whaleboats SIMPLY WEREN'T HAVING IT.  It's rare indeed for NOT A SINGLE HUMAN to respond to the OFFER OF A LIFETIME in a situation like this.  As it worked out, NOBODY got recruited.  It's often the one you want most that you can't get, and one of those coveted bipeds was aboard the Essex that day, but come on, this was RIDICULOUS.

>> The facts are spelled out, largely correctly, in hideous detail in the book this movie is based on: 

>> Of course, the whole story is told from THEIR point of view, not OURS.  But it's an interesting slant if you're a fish reader.

>>  Once the crew abandoned the wreck, the story got TRULY UGLY from ANYONE's point of view.  The Galapagos Tortoises, our landlocked sisters, were the first to go -- mercifully.  But it didn't help with OUR recruitment efforts OR THEIRS -- in fact, the island they came from had already been burnt to a crisp by Thomas Chappel, an Essex crewmember with an impish sense of humor.  THAT'S GRATITUDE.

>> They never used pieces of their dead crewmates to signal a readiness to have us COME NIGH. They just, you know, ate each other.

>> Water, water everywhere -- but did they ever go in for a dip?  Did they do any fishing?  DID THEY ASK US TO GO FISHING FOR THEM?  Nope.

>> There is even a suggestion in the book -- happily untrue! -- that Owen Chase, the first mate, went back and killed their recruiting operative Whale as soon as he had a ship of his own.  Ugh!  That stuff is best confined to fictional treatments of this tragic story.

Don't watch this alone.  Don't, certainly, read the book alone.  You'll need to process what you see in either version, with someone who TRULY UNDERSTANDS.


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