Chris Hemsworth (The Avengers) braves the sea and a massive whale in the first trailer for Ron Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea. The movie is adapted from the 2000 non-fiction book by Nathaniel Philbrick of the same name. That book recounts the true story of the Essex, an American whaleship in 1820 which sank after it was attacked by a sperm whale. The crew members then attempted to sail to South America in whaleboats, but many of them died due to starvation or dehydration before they finally were rescued in 1821.
While Philbrick’s book won the 2000 National Book Award for Non-Fiction, it took years for the film to ultimately be adapted for the silver screen. At one point Barry Levinson (Wag the Dog) was in talks to direct for The Weinstein Company.
The true story of the Essex whaleship is ultimately responsible for being the main inspiration for Herman Melville’s famed novel Moby Dick. In the trailer, the 80-foot sperm whale is described as a “demon”, which may be a brief allusion to the Biblical themes of evil and the devil in Melville’s book.
The trailer, like the book, does appear to show that the film won’t revolve solely around the crewmen’s encounter with the mythical sperm whale. While that is a major element of the book, it is also a survivalist story about the obstacles the men face after their shipwreck.
For Ron Howard, this is his second time working with Chris Hemsworth on a film based on real accounts, as he did in 2010’s Rush. Howard also famously explored another tale of survival and isolation with his 1995 drama Apollo 13. This time, he brings those themes to the sea with a cast that includes the aforementioned Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy (Transcendence), Benjamin Walker (The Choice), Ben Whishaw (Skyfall), and Brendan Gleeson (Calvary).
In the Heart of the Sea will be released on March 13th, 2015.