When you write about movies on a daily basis, of course, these kinds of strange coincidences and collisions of subjects in times pop up more often than you might think. Nevertheless, the lack of cinematic grasping of all the qualities that makes “Moby-Dick” work in literary form means that the sudden appearance of a new adaptation on the horizon coincident with that particular choice of publication date for my article does send shivers down one’s spine.
Mainly because Lynne Ramsey is currently on the marketing train for “We Need to Talk About Kevin” and the psychological intensity of that film lends a note of anticipation to the idea of her helming another look at the monomaniacal escapades of one Captain Ahab. Too often the cinematic approach to “Moby-Dick” has been to eschew the intensity of the work’s existence as psychodrama in favor of transforming it into an action film. Until the level of special effects reach the point at which a huge white whale chasing after human flesh can be successfully exploited without looking downright silly, that approach is doomed to failure. Instead, filmmakers should harness all the technology at their disposal that results in penetrating into the mind of a psychotically charged individual like Ahab.
Lynne Ramsey seems more than capable of handling that task. In fact, in the interview published on Collider.com, Ramsey assertively states that the handling of the whale, which actually will be an alien since it takes place in space, will all be done in the camera rather than relying on post-production special computer effects. That revelation in itself imbues creates a certain amount of speculative expectation that this movie version of “Moby-Dick” is going to be far more concerned with themes like alienation, monomania, vengeance and the endowment of human emotional traits within a non-human species more than it will be concerned with coming up with ways to make the whale—or alien—attacking the ship into a ten minute action set piece.
I think I will immediately set to work on several more articles asking why Hollywood can’t make a decent version of this or that literary inspiration and see what comes out of the woodwork in the succeeding two days. If writing an article asking why Hollywood can’t make a decent version of “Moby-Dick” results in exciting news like this, who knows what the future will hold?
Synchronity, man. It’ the living end!