If you were on a ship in the middle of the ocean and someone yelled “Thar she blows!!!” would you immediately look for:
A) A whale, B) A pirate ship, C) Pamela Anderson? If you chose a whale, then you were either a sailor in the 1850’s or you read Herman Melville’s classic nautical tale Moby Dick. Of course, you could have also watched one of the four different films adapted from the book, of which I consider Patrick Stewart’s 1998 TV movie to be the best of the lot, even though Gregory Peck’s 1956 version is a classic in its own right.
Get ready to add a fifth adaptation to the mix as the Tele Munchen Group (TMG) starts production on its 25.5 million made-for-TV attempt at Moby Dick. Actually I’m surprised that Moby Dick hasn’t been slated to become a 3D Digital remake in the new Hollywood regime, but IMDB does show a Moby Dick scheduled for 2011. Could be nothing (IMDB isn’t always right) but I can’t help but think it’s an omen.
TMG, together with RHI Entertainment, are bringing together a pretty impressive cast and crew to work on Moby Dick. William Hurt (Robin Hood) will be donning the beard and harpoon to hunt the massive white whale as Captain Ahab, while Ethan Hawke (Daybreakers) will play the Battlestar Galactica fighter pilot Pequod’s first officer, Starbuck. To top it off, TMG brought in Nigel Williams to pen the script and I have to say, if this is half as good as his effort on HBO’s Elizabeth I, then color me interested.
I’m also curious to see who else gets the nod to star in this TV movie because Melville introduced us to so many colorful characters that, if cast wrong, could be disastrous. Although Ahab and Starbuck are the two most prominent characters in the book, Melville took great pride in giving even the most insignificant characters purpose and a back story. Stub, Flask, Queequeg, Daggoo, Fedallah and Pip are vivid wonderful parts of the story and help to build the world in which whaling is supreme. Of course, with TMG investing 25.5 million to produce Moby Dick, I can’t imagine they would settle for anything less than a wonderful, powerful, retelling of the story.
I wonder though, what would Moby Dick be like with an absurd budget of say $75 – $100 million? Are modern audiences done with classic tales involving survival, man versus nature, beast, and himself? Are they more interested in modern book adaptations like Harry Potter and Twilight?
I know I’m going to get some “boos” but modern day writers like King, Meyer, and Rowling can’t even begin to hold a candle to the classic literary skills of such great authors like Twain, Hemingway, Melville, Irving and Steinbeck. Before someone mentions it, I am aware that King wrote Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile and I would exclude those works from his horror writings.
Filming for Moby Dick starts near the end of this month in Halifax, Canada then moves on to Malta for additional shooting.
BONUS: Check out the original trailer for Gregory Peck’s 1956 Moby Dick movie.
What do you think about another White Whale retelling and what would you think about a big screen adaptation?
The Pequod sets off after Moby Dick in the Fall of 2010.