After seeing the trailer for In the Heart of the Sea several times over the past few weeks, I thought I knew what it was about: Chris Hemsworth, a whaler, goes whaling with his whaler friends, gets attacked by an enormous sperm whale who refuses to be whaled, hops in a tiny boat with the other surviving whalers, and floats back home to be with his wife.
But Ron Howard’s newest movie about the triumph of the human spirit isn’t as simple as that.
This may not come as a surprise to those of you familiar with the story (the book on which its based was a New York Times best-seller and a National Book Award winner), but it was a big shocker to me: many of the surviving whalers survived because they ate the whalers who didn’t. To put it simply, Chris Hemsworth plays a handsome, reluctant cannibal.
From the Wikipedia entry for Owen Chase (Hemsworth’s character):
On January 10, Matthew Joy died. The following day, the boat carrying Owen Chase, Richard Peterson, Isaac Cole, Benjamin Lawrence, and Thomas Nickerson became separated from the others during a squall. Peterson died on January 18 and, like Joy, was sewn into his clothes and buried at sea, as was the custom. On February 8, Cole died, but with food running out they kept his body and, after a discussion, the men resorted to cannibalism in order to survive.
“After a discussion.”
What a discussion!
OWEN: Well, I’m quite hungry. Are all of you?
LAWRENCE: Yes. Quite.
NICKERSON: Never been hungrier.
OWEN: Any luck catching some fish?
LAWRENCE: None at all. You know me, Mr. Butterfingers!
NICKERSON: I don’t care for fish.
OWEN: You know Cole’s dead.
NICKERSON: Yeah, I noticed.
Just think of the poor families who will go see the new PG-13 Ronnie Howard movie during the holidays completely unaware that it’s about Chris Hemsworth (2014’s Sexiest Man Alive) eating other, less sexy men.
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Image via Warner Brothers.