Bekmambetov's Journey into Moby Dick

". . . however baby man may brag of his science and skill, and however much, in a flattering future, that science and skill may augment; yet for ever and for ever, to the crack of doom, the sea will insult and murder him, and pulverize the stateliest, stiffest frigate he can make; nevertheless, by the continual repetition of these very impressions, man has lost that sense of the full awfulness of the sea which aboriginally belongs to it." -- "Moby Dick"

Yet, somehow, Universal is going to find a way to strip away the bleak reflectiveness of Herman Mellville's novel. As reported by various sources that include Guardian and Variety, Universal Studios will adapt the epic novel, famous for its melancholy obsession, with Wanted and Night/Day Watch pop-culture director Timur Bekmambetov at the helm. Don't get me wrong; I enjoyed Day Watch and, even more so, had a great time with Wanted. Even the idea of a visually arresting atmosphere embodying the hunt for the "great fish" sounds like a admirable brainstorm. However, this quote from Variety really spooked me the second my eyes fell upon the news:

"This change will allow them to depict the whale’s decimation of other ships prior to its encounter with Ahab’s Pequod, and Ahab will be depicted more as a charismatic leader than a brooding obsessive."

Hate to break the news to you, Uni and crew, but the successful nature of "Moby Dick" lies in the engulfing themes that focus on obsession's painful and maniacal nature. Its pensiveness and wrought distress pull literary classes to its prose, not the desire to see Ahab as an unstoppable bulging-bicep Die Hard type of hero. Before they sink too much of their capital into a bizarre adaptation of one of literature's most thoughtful and grimly satisfying novels, they should probably consider its fan-base. Sure, they'll wrap up teens and tweens with the headline "From the Director of Wanted Comes Herman Melville's Classic Novel", but an insurmountable number of literature enthusiasts will witness the darkness emptied from the narrative and grab their pitchforks.

For this to succeed, Bekmambetov has got to find a way to retain the intrinsic pain in "Moby Dick" while infusing his unique eye for visual chaos -- not just throw together scattershot harpoons and marine-biological destruction to create "Jaws on Acid". Do it with grace and thought, and it could be a very successful and potent picture. Timidness is harnessing my enthusiasm, but an inkling of faith has me hopeful that Universal will find the proper rhythm in adapting "Moby Dick" to the modern generation. Current News


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