"Hey Matt, that's a tough question to answer thoroughly in the comments section but I'll give it a try. Like you (I think), I bristle at the idea that something should be considered and revered as a classic just because a lot of other people say it is. I tend to reserve that kind of labeling for my own personal headspace rather than try and force it on others. "Moby-Dick" means so much to me for many reasons though. First, it has been an almost constant companion throughout my life, whether it was the film or an abridged version or a graphic novel or the full text. I've read it quite a few times, and at each stage of my life the book revealed more and more to me. I treasure the book so much because, in spite of its thorny and difficult language, its challenging and sometimes maddeningly inconsistent structure, and its long nonfictional asides, I truly believe the book is about everything. Honestly. Nearly everything we humans experience, grapple with, wonder about and struggle toward is in some way addressed in the book.
But honestly, its not for everyone. Some love it, some hate it. Few are indifferent. I don't make any kind of judgments about a person based on whether or not they like or don't like the book. Some of my closest friends turn green and start tuning out of any conversation where I mention the book.
But to me, it's everything."
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Saturday, July 30, 2011
"A sly masterpiece of four brief chapters, Jonah reverberates in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, where it is the text for Father Mapple’s grand sermon."
"There is of course the giant fish (not, alas, a whale) who swallows up Jonah for three days but then disgorges him at God’s command. No Moby Dick, he inspires neither fear nor awe."
"NEW BEDFORD — Herman Melville Family Day celebrates the 192nd birthday of the famed author of "Moby-Dick" at the New Bedford Whaling Museum on Saturday, July 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a full day of free children's activities including a whale of a birthday cake."
"Special activities are scheduled throughout the day. From 10 a.m. to noon, kids can make their own floatable toy model of Cap'n Ahab's ship, Pequod. Wading pools on the plaza will allow young shipwrights to test their vessel's seaworthiness before they take them home. A children's poetry workshop will be offered from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m."
"At 11:30 a.m. whaling wives, Ruth and Abby from the 1840s, will visit with children. At noon the museum's youth apprentices will lead a special sperm whale activity. From 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. kids can illustrate their very own version of Moby-Dick and from 1 to 2 p.m., be photographed with Moby Dick's statue."
"Ongoing activities include make-and-take art projects — whale hats, whale tail bookmarks and magnets — and making chalk whale art. Moby-Dick cartoons will be featured in the theater and drawings to win a family membership will be given hourly. The Museum Store will also hold a Whale of a Tent Sale on the plaza."
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
"Cast member Gillian Anderson first came to fame playing Dana Scully on the TV series The X Files. It was mentioned several times throughout the run of the series that Scully and her family were big fans of Herman Melville's book 'Moby Dick': her nickname for her Naval officer father was "Captain Ahab;" his nickname for her was "Starbuck;" and her dog, which she named Queequeg, was, like its namesake, also an eater of humans (the dog ate the body of its previous owner).""This is the first production of "Moby Dick" since the 1930 film version with John Barrymore to have a leading female character. There are no women in Herman Melville's original novel."
Friday, July 22, 2011
"Were you ever curious about how Capt. Ahab felt when Moby Dick’s cavernous mouth closed over him, eliminating light and life?"
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
2010: Moby Dick commentary part two
The movie starts off with a sub disaster in 1969. There’s “something out there” (and that’s about as creative as some of the dialogue gets). Ahab is a sonar man, records the whale’s vocals, on a tape that looks disturbingly like it is from 1989 and not 1969, and gets his leg cut off when Moby breaches and bodyslams the sub. Ahab gets to look eye to eye with the whale, with special effects that don’t look all that good, however, you get the impression that Moby meant to be vicious. That was pretty cool.
The writer was most definitely an aficionado of the original novel, or at least had enough working knowledge of it, to drop in names of people and ships that the reader would recognize. Tashtego, Pippin, Queequeg, are all briefly accounted for. Even when the other navy sub the Essex chases after Ahab’s Pequod, you get a sense of the author knowing his subject matter basics. When the two seamen are discussing the "whiteness" of the whale bothering them, they make it a joke that white is always evil.
They just didn’t handle Ahab right. Even when he shouts, “I’d strike the sun if it insulted me!” you barely get the sense that he is obsessive, probably drawing on background knowledge of Ahab in order to connect the dots. Again, you simply had to know the book to really figure it out.
“Where there are squid, there are whales.” Would there be anything left after nuking the squid?
The harpoon marked “Fedallah” is made out of the hull of the Acushnet, the sub from the opening 1969 scene.
When Ishmael/Michelle yells, “It’s your fault! You’re hunting it—it’s not hunting us!” to Ahab, I just wanted to scream. Moby was destroying other boats, subs, and cruise ships without Ahab anywhere near. It’s not Ahab’s fault AT ALL in this movie. It is his job to destroy the monster. The corpses they run into cry out for vengeance, for Pete’s sake. If in the novel Ahab sacrifices his men and ship for his revenge, he simply does NOT do that here. He is a military captain whose job it is to destroy the whale and every single one of those seamen knows it is their duty to keep the waters safe. There simply is no single-minded obsession—there is coincidence that Ahab’s revenge and his duty match up.
At the end, when they take out the individual little boats, that is a pretty cool reminiscence of the last three-days’ hunt from the novel.
However, basic enjoyment of the movie has to rely on background knowledge of the original novel. I don’t think this movie stands up at all by itself if you had no idea about some of the peculiarities.
Monday, July 18, 2011
Now that was funny.
Friday, July 15, 2011
While doing some preliminary research on the term "classic," I came across this Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classic_literature
I believe it very telling that these imprimaturs came about in the early part of the twentieth century, just as interest in Moby Dick had risen...hmmmm.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Picture copyright Matt Kish.
- Horatio Hornblower
- Mutiny on the Bounty
- A Night to Remember
- Moby Dick
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea