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Reality hits home

In the Heart of the Sea is a turbulent retelling of the real life events behind Herman Melville’s classic novel, Moby Dick.

Crossing the Culture Angeline Liles
Figure Image
Tail fin of the ‘demon’ sperm whale

It’s a film about storytelling, as the adventure unfolds through the narrative of Thomas Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson), who recounts his experience as a 14-year-old cabin boy on board the Nantucket whaleship Essex. Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw) arrives at Nickerson’s home at the invitation of his wife, who pleads with her husband to unburden himself of the tragic events of that voyage. Reluctant at first, Nickerson is persuaded by his wife that to share his story, to confess to Melville what he witnessed and endured, will liberate him from the weighty chains of guilt that he has silently carried all his life. Melville, keen to prove himself as a serious author, has pen and notebook at the ready as Nickerson begins: ‘The tragedy of the Essex is the story of men. And a Demon.’