Moby Dick (1998)

Not a bad take on the novel. Patrick Stewart does very well as Ahab, and Henry Thomas embodies the spirit of Ishmael a lot better than Richard Basehart did in the 1956 adaptation.

It’s a muted adaption, and the visuals rarely offer much in the way of creative or interesting takes on the story. It’s a low-budget TV movie after all, so I don’t really berudge it for feeling more like a stageplay at times. Still, those behind the movie didn’t seem to make much of an effort embodying the creativity or breadth of Melville’s novel in any case. It’s certainly a more faithful adaptation than the 1956 version, but still strips out not just plenty of vital scenes, but much of the thematic depth.

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To its credit, it has a much more singular focus on character, zeroing in primarily on the conflict between Ahab and Starbuck. This was a good choice. It gives the film focus, a unique take, and something of a singular vision. Sure, it’s nowhere near as interesting, timeless, or creative as the novel, or as an even more faithful or creative adaptation might be, but it’s still more than a competent film in its own right.

I give it two and a half Spanish doubloons, and an iron nail.

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