The Revenge of Moby Dick

When I read that Universal Pictures had paid a couple of guys (Adam Cooper and Bill Collage) a large amount of money to write a screenplay for a big budget take on Melville’s classic Moby Dick — arguing for an original approach that would be “loaded with chaos and destruction” — I was momentarily interested.

There has been, of course, several screen versions of the story (if not the actual, rather encyclopedic novel), the best being the 1956 Moby Dick, as directed by John Huston and starring Gregory Peck as the obsessed Captain Ahab.

Moby Dick poster

I argued a while back that this film was in fact a giant monster film in all but genre name, there being several significant indications of this within the script. So a film in which Moby Dick “rampages” through the oceans of the world would certainly have potential, I would have thought.

In this new version the writers are taking a “graphic novel-style” approach which will shift the focus from Ishmael’s famed first-person narration as he recounts Ahab’s obsession with killing the whale that crippled him. The change in perspective, they claim, will allow them to depict Moby Dick’s decimation of other ships prior to its encounter with the Pequod. “We wanted to take a graphic novel sensibility to a classic narrative,” said Collage.

Apparently Ahab will become more “a charismatic leader than a brooding obsessive”. Hmmm.

The film is to be directed by Night Watch and Day Watch director Timur Bekmambetov.

As I said at the start I was momentarily interested in this because I thought the opening of the article was suggesting something original — say a modern-day sequel to Moby Dick, where a descendant of Captain Ahab comes to realise that the Great White Whale is still (supernaturally) alive and has begun a new reign of terror across the oceans of the modern world. Yes, that’s why Moby Dick is white! He’s a ghost!

Okay, just kidding.

The new film’s perspective — a graphic novel take — may be interesting as it seems it will be spinning off to let us watch other ships sink. But I’m rather afraid more sunk ships at the expense of the original’s dramatic centre (Ahab’s obsession) will simply result in turning the film into another big hunk of meaningless eye candy.

But maybe I’m being pessimistic.

I will add that while I admired the visual aspect of Night Watch and Day Watch, I found the narrative flow completely chaotic in both of them. After a while, it got a bit tedious.

So, guys, your new “vision” might not be “your grandfather’s ‘Moby Dick’,” but can we at least have something that is as narratively competent as Huston’s 1956 version, please?

And if you’re going to claim “originality”, can you make sure that “original” doesn’t mean “stupid”?

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1 Response to The Revenge of Moby Dick

  1. Pingback: Moby Dick (1956) | Old Old Films

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