You should also know that “Moby-Dick” the novel figures prominently in the “Star Trek” canon stretching from episodes in the original 1960’s series to the Next Generation big screen offering “Nemesis.”
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.
Herman Melville’s ‘Moby Dick’ is a prime candidate for the Great American Novel. No other Great Work of Literature has been adapted for the movies so many times with such relentlessly awful results.
The most frequent complaint from many readers of Moby-Dick is that the interstitial chapters intrude upon the narrative drive of the plot while very often appearing to be pointless digressions, but “The Specksynder” contains a direct allusion to just how incredibly vital these digressions really are in the construction of a simple whaling captain as a profoundly tragic figure. Ishmael asserts that “Nor would the tragic dramatist who would depict mortal indomitableness in its fullest sweep and direct swing, ever forget a hint, incidentally so important in his art, as the one now alluded to.”
Rebellion is the key word. The democratically appointed monomaniacal leader who succeeds in selling his deranged vision of revenge is protected by the very system he is corrupting. Ahab toys around with the actual business of whaling just enough to make sure that Starbuck can’t accuse him of not carrying out his duties.