Monday, August 1, 2011

My running commentary on watching Encore's "Moby Dick"

I tuned in for the world premiere--and I usually don't even watch regular TV anymore with my Roku and my Netflix. Remember, Encore just broke into this "original movie" stuff. This is their first one. This is the movie they decided to do first, to sort of lead the way for future endeavors.

Ishmael saves Pippin from a slave-beater to start it off.

Ahab looking through telescope at the Pequod getting ready--just as credits end! See--get Ahab involved faster!

Is that Ahab's son? A laughing Ahab?

He doesn't seem too asshole, maybe, to Starbuck, but not menacing.

Son: "Are you scared of Moby Dick?"
Ahab: "He's just a whale..."

Wife: "He isn't just another whale."
Ahab: "He's old, he's angry, he doesn't get enough attention from females...something we have in common." --just to get his wife over to him. He's playful with her! Ahab is playful with his wife--you can tell he loves her--would he give this up so easily. He does refuse to go to church with her, starting an understanding of him withdrawing from the world and questioning God.

Honestly, this background gives Ahab something to live for, to keep from self-sacrifice. I really think he should have been a bit mean or at least aloof to her. And I don't think that Gillian Anderson says more than 50 words in this movie--why is she even billed as one of the main actors. I think Donald Sutherland as Father Mapple says more.

Starbuck: "you said things in your fever...about the while whale, about death."

The Father Mapple speech is set up better than the novel, about being full of pride and not accepting help. This actually seems integral with what they've done for Ahab so far.

(It actually sets up a sequel--Son of Ahab's revenge!)

I assumed Elizabeth, Ahab's wife, would say something like, "Come back to us." I would have liked to have seen Ahab's reaction to this.

Boarding the ship in slo-mo was like The Right Stuff.

Ahab puts her picture in a drawer ominously.

I admit, it's grand, like a grand adventure set up like Lord of the Rings. And at least Ahab is infused in the whole thing. Ishmael, rightfully, is basically nothing but a character to introduce the viewer to new whaling/boating things. Ishmael is not focal; Ahab is focal.

An image of Ahab with a "halo" brings up a holy avenger allusion.

The scene where Ahab gets the men on his side seems rushed...why do they agree so quickly and so happily?

Ahab smacks the shit out of Ishmael, showing his seething anger boil to the surface momentarily.

It does seem adventurous. It moves. The bits and pieces move the narrative forward--they don't detain or stall the narrative.

Moby, seemingly chasing the Pequod for a long time, hits the Pequod just as they sight their first whale herd and try to lower the boats. Is he to be interpreted as protecting them?

Moby gently and ominously turns Ahab's boat in circles. It's a great little scene. Moby then breaches and destroys several whaling boats and Ahab laughs. This makes me believe that the men get on Ahab's side for revenge a little easier and quicker.

And that's it for part one. Honestly, I am intrigued. This is adventure, infused with the anger of Ahab. Although, I still think that they could have done better with the wife and son scenes. They still make me think that even Ahab would want to come home to them, and if the movie does not show me explicitly why he would give that up, then I don't think it does its job on that score. Now, if you take those scenes out, either entirely, or added a bit, it would have been more. But overall, I really want to see the next installment. In the end, that's a good thing.

The screenwriter seemed to understand all the failings of the narrative and fixed it. I wouldn't be surprised if he actually didn't have any wife scenes and he was told to add the scenes when someone wanted to add an actress. He did his best with them, but I can almost tell he didn't really want them.

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