It’s quite difficult to come out with a movie adapted to the standard of the novel “Moby Dick”. The detailed narrative speech and landscape descriptions that can be more than 50 pages long make the reading process quite challenging. Not to mention that if you lose your focus, you’ll miss the point and details that in the end make the story complete, with every piece of the puzzle in its own place.
Set up in New England in the 19th century, the story follows Pequod, the whaling ship and its crew. The leader of the crew is Captain Ahab, who almost died in an encounter with the great white whale, Moby Dick. Years later, he is ready for revenge. The desire to strike back and destroy the sea mammal is so great that he can’t give up, eventually, leading him and his fellows to a no turning back journey
The 1956 adaptation of the producer John Huston did a great job capturing the most important themes and selecting the key parts of the story in an interesting way. The story of a sea captain obsessed with the white whale that took his leg many years ago became a concept and main plot for the movie. The obsession, desire for revenge and bitterness of the story were the main drive for one of Hollywood’s greatest directors in that time. Since he was sixteen, Huston had a dream to make a film of the Melville’s classic. After his success with The Maltese Falcon (1941) and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), John saw his father Walter Huston as the perfect Captain Ahab. This was a chance to make their big-budget adaptation a reality. Unfortunately, Walter died in 11950, leaving John to fin another actor that would fit the role.
Gregory Peck became Huston’s choice, meeting at a Hollywood party. Peck was not sure he was the right fit for that role. However, his popularity and screen appearance delighted Warner Brothers who supported this idea. Even though many critics disliked Peck’s performance, the director always thought that he delivered the exact emotion he wanted for the lunatic seaman.
Even Peck himself had been convinced into believing that his performance was somehow “wooden” and below expectations. However, it seems that the role and performance needed time to age well in order for movie lovers to say that this role is probably Peck’s greatest performance in his career. Coming out of the image as Hollywood’s handsome man that has played mainly in romances and dramas, the role of the Captain was a gamechanger.
From the odd first spoken line in the film, the voice-over of Richard Basehart saying “Call me Ishmael” to the brilliantly constructed scenes that brought the audience down to the sea as they brought the young Ishmael to it – the movie is one of the greatest adventure and drama movies of all times. Metaphorically speaking, one of the best psychological stories ever told. The novel and the movie’s main theme is vengeance. At the first place, we see Moby Dick as the evil white whale sea monster that Ahab demonises. But if we try to see the big picture here, this is just a whale doing what it knows best to survive. It is, in fact, the humans who hunt him and his kind. Ahab’s accident when he lost his leg is what now we call collateral damage and occupational accident. The evil here is Ahab himself and the way he seduces the whole crew into his own madness and hatred.
Stories about mysteries of the deep blue ocean and living creatures in it have been an inspiration for many books, screenplays, remakes and even video games. Many video games took the main theme from a popular book, movie or a fantasy story and had it adapted according to the vision of gaming developers. Today, we can see variations of online games that have adapted from a popular subject or a theme. From Jaws and Neptune the shark from Resident Evil games, to more relaxed and fun time underworld scenarios such as Finding Nemo or Fishing Frenzy Megaways online slot game – secrets and stories about the sea world open many opportunities for new mysteries that are yet to be unfolded.
The story about the one-legged captain and the White Whale has reached the status of a cultural icon and an evergreen. This film was original and exquisite when it was released, and its status hasn’t changed ever since, even after so many remakes and adaptations. We’re sure that this movie will stand the test of time well into the future.