In the Heart of the Sea (2015) Script

MELVILLE: How does one come to know the unknowable?

"What faculties must a man possess?

"Since it was discovered that whale oil

"could light our cities in ways never achieved before, "it created global demand.

"It has pushed man to venture further and further

"into the deep blue unknown.

"We know not its depths, "nor the host of creatures that live there.

"Monsters.

"Are they real?

"Or do the stories exist only to make us respect the sea's dark secrets?

"The question both vexes and excites me

"and is the reason I've written you a second time to request a meeting.

"A conversation with you, sir, I believe will serve me well

"for the novel I intend to write, "currently entitled Moby Dick.

"I hope you will reconsider my offer.

"The unknown.

"That is where my imagination yearns to venture.

"And so the question plagues me still.

"How does a man come to know the unknowable?

"Sincerely, Herman Melville."

We're closed.

No boarders after 8:00.

You came.

(DOOR OPENS)

Someone here for you, my love.

Tom Nickerson?

Herman Melville.

We received your letter.

You're either a desperate man or a fool to come all the way to Nantucket.

Well, my offer still stands.

Three months' lodgings for a single night's talk.

All I have in the world.

But I prefer to think of it as an investment.

I want you to tell me what happened to the Essex.

(SIGHS) What do you think happened?

There are rumblings. Rumors that the Essex was...

What do you want?

What story do you expect to hear?

That of the whale.

The Essex ran aground. There was a full inquiry.

I believe the inquiry was less than truthful.

Get out.

You are the last survivor of the Essex, sir.

If you won't talk, who will?

Did you not hear me? Leave. Now.

(DOOR CLOSES)

No. You mustn't go. Please. He is in no mind to talk.

And I haven't come all this way to be humiliated and waste my time.

Please, Mr. Melville.

He won't talk about the Essex to me.

To anyone. Never has. Never.

There's an agony about him.

His soul is in torment, and in need of confession.

Please, just let me talk to him.

Please.

Love.

I believe it would do you good to talk to the man.

No.

You listen well.

Who holds this place together while you drink yourself to death?

You will talk with this man as much as is necessary to keep the money.

You know our circumstances, Thomas.

Only as much as is necessary.

I'll get whiskey.

MELVILLE: I neglected to mention it in my letter, but I was a whaler once.

One trip, I mean.

Green hand.

So, you've seen it all.

My wife read your books.

She enjoyed them.

I'm happy to hear it.

I've had good sales.

And I think this story could surpass the success of even my first novel, which did quite well.

Another of your seafaring yarns?

Have you read Hawthorne, Mr. Melville?

Now there's a writer.

Great writer.

He is.

But he is not here. And I am.

For my own particular reasons.

I will tell you of the Essex.

I believe you will be disappointed.

But every word I say will be true.

Story of the Essex is the story of two men.

Captain George Pollard and his first mate, Owen Chase.

Owen. You don't wanna be late. (HAMMERING)

I'll be there.

Besides, can't have our daughter sleeping under a leaky roof, can we?

What makes you so sure it's a girl?

Well, it has to be.

So she can remind me why I still love you when you're being stubborn.

Well, if it's to be a daughter, she'll be a version of you, not me.

Blond locks and determined to conquer the world.

I suppose after today, you'll be trading in that tunic for a uniform.

That's right.

Finally out of this patch of dirt, into a captain's house like you deserve.

PEGGY: I don't need one of those houses in town with stuffy neighbors.

There's plenty of room here for the three of us.

You know, sometimes your kind heart and good nature is just unbearable.

Go get your captaincy.

(CROWD TALKING INDISTINCTLY)


(BOY LAUGHING)

(BOY SHOUTING)

(INDISTINCT TALKING)

SHAREHOLDER: What's your bid? BUYER 1: I'll have $1.90.

SHAREHOLDER: I've got 1,000 gallons at $2!

BUYER 2: I'll take 40 shares!

BUYER 3: Seller! Seller! Over here!

(INDISTINCT CHATTERING)

MAN: Criterion's back with a fine haul.

1, 600 barrels.

SHAREHOLDER: A new record.

£50 sterling for head matter on the London market.

MAN: Congratulations.

(BANGING)

Good morning, Mr. Chase. Mr. Mason.

Come in, please.

(CLEARS THROAT)

My partner, Benjamin Fuller.

CHASE: Good morning, sir.

Do sit down.

Mr. Chase.

I do hope you realize how satisfied we are with the work you've done for us over the years.

Thank you, sir.

Now, one of our ships, the Essex, has just been refitted at great expense and is to go to sea.

Now, having made such an investment in her, we want to be sure she's in the best possible hands.

So, it gives us great pleasure to offer you a position aboard her.

As first mate.

As first mate?

Mmm-hmm.

Mr. Mason, you promised me command of a ship after my last voyage when I brought you back 1,500 barrels.

Do you remember? You gave me your word.

That promise must now be deferred.

Like everyone else, we've had a lean time recently.

No, never on my watch.

Nantucket now dominates the world market.

That must not change.

This is no time for experimentation.

The Essex will be captained by George Pollard, scion of a great whaling family.

His father also happens to be ourpatron.

MASON: Blood, Mr. Chase.

You can have all the voyages under your belt you want, but blood will always win out.

Yes, well, blood is not gonna fill a ship with oil, Mr. Mason.

To successfully command, a captain needs respect.

Now, what if the men don't respect him?

You will make sure that they do.

Ah, good day, gentlemen.

MASON: I understand your disappointment,

so, a one-fifteenth lay.

That's more than I've ever paid any first officer.

And if you bring back 2,000 barrels of oil, I give you my word, next time, you will have your captaincy.

You've given me your word before, Mr. Mason.

No, this time, I'll take it in writing.

(DOOR CLOSES)

Captain Pollard.

We've just had a most agreeable conversation with Mr. Chase.

He'll be honored to serve under you.

I'm glad to hear it.

Now I'm to babysit a greenhorn.

Some chinless Nantucketer born with a damn silver spoon in his mouth.

You know, I should've thrown the offer back in their faces.

Why? You now have the offer of command in writing.

Yes, well, a liar's word is worthless, even on paper.

You know, I'd love you just as much if you were a merchant captain.

And you wouldn't be gone for two years.

I won't be gone two years.

A Bedford whaler came back last week who was gone three.

She lost two men and still with her hull half empty.

Yeah, well, they were from Bedford, and they didn't have me on board.

Son of a bitch!

I will captain my own ship!

A whaling ship.

Up to them, all we'd ever have is this patch of dirt, and that's not gonna happen, Peggy.

Those are your father's words, not yours.

What's wrong with his words?

He wanted things for his family, for himself.

He was a dreamer, Owen.

Yes, he was.

Dreamed of the sea and never got to sail it because of men like them.

At least he got to see his children born.

It's all I know.

I'm sorry.

I married a whaleman.

Hey.

I'll come back as quick as a summer's night, I swear.

Just come back.

Promise me.

I already swore to you. Now you want me to promise, too?

I promise.

POLLARD SR.: Son, a word with you.

To be a captain, you cannot be a friend.

You are their superior.

Never forget that. Never let them forget that.

Thank you, sir.

Your great-grandfather and a few others created this industry.

Without us, without you, the world plunges into darkness.

I hope to bring honor to the Pollard family name, sir.

PRAYER LEADER: "Thou didst, O Lord, create the mighty whale

"That wondrous monster of a mighty length

"Beyond conception his unmeasured strength

"But, everlasting God, thou dost ordain

"That we, poor feeble mortals should engage

"Ourselves, our wives and children to maintain

"This dreadful monster with a martial rage"

O Father, grant that your glorious light shine on these men.

Ensure them a prosperous voyage, that they may return safely and with a full ship, so that the white flames of Nantucket whale oil may continue to keep light in our homes, city streets safe from sin in the night, and to fuel the machines of industry that drive our great nation forward as our noble species evolves.

In your name, we pray.

So, what month was this? Late in the year.

We were one of the last ships to go out, which is why my friend Barzillai and I got a berth.

You know, I was 14.

Fourteen.

CHAPPEL: Nickerson, you're standing around, boy. Move!

NICKERSON: First time to sea. Scared, but more scared to show it.

Barzillai was 17.

Orphans. Grew up on the wharf.

Both in a hurry to be called men.

(MAN ORDERING INDISTINCTLY)

Grubs, what are those pins they're wearing?

They're whale pins, Thomas.

How do I get one of them?

Well, you gotta thrust the killing lance into the largest beast that ever breathed on this Earth.

(GRUNTING)

JOY: Nickerson, get the green stuff to Mr. Bond, there.

Make it quick, damn it.

I shall have 12 of those one day.

PETERSON: Windlass is ready and sails are loose, sir.

SAILOR 1: Mr. Joy, this is only half my order!

Put them over the ground tier casks.

Well, well, you being on board means only one thing.

Yeah, at least there's one person on this ship who knows the truth about Owen Chase.

No, that all the other ships have already crewed up.

Now, now.

I'm a reformed man, Owen.

Question is, are you?

Don't tell me Matthew Joy's put down the bottle.

Dry as sand. (CHUCKLES)

Has Owen Chase put down his temper?

Ah, serene as the church.

I'll believe that when I see it.

And given our captain, I'll give your serenity about 48 hours?

Good luck.

Pollard. George Pollard.

Owen Chase.

"Chase." That's an off-island name, isn't it?

Yes, it is.

And very shortly, we will be off-island for some time, and I'll be very much at home.

POLLARD: Must say I was surprised.

Normally, a captain gets to choose his first mate.

An experienced captain, yes.

'Course, you can understand from the owners' point of view, they want to feel their investment's in the hands of men.

Indeed.

They probably want a little extra reassurance, that's all.

Well, do keep an eye on me and let me know if I'm doing anything wrong.

Oh, I know no other way, Captain.

Hmm.

Mr. Chase, haul short the anchor.

Yank to the wind! There's topmen aloft.

SAILOR: Aye! Mr. Lawrence, take the helm.

Aye, sir. Mr. Joy, make sail.

JOY: Mr. Cole! Mr. Chappel! Stand by the spanker.

Set your fore staysail and your fore and main topsails.

CHASE: Come on, look lively, you lads.

CHAPPEL: Come on, Nickerson! While we're young!

JOY: Let fall clews and bunts and sheet ho!

Set topsails and topgallants.

Heave away on the windlass. Heave away on the windlass.

(INDISTINCT SHOUTING)

Set topgallants.

Let go clew lines and sheet ho!

RAMSDELL: There's a snarl in the gasket, sir.

Mr. Chappel, take the helm.

PETERSON: It won't clear, Mr. Chase!

Come on! Why aren't those braces laid out?

Mr. Ray, where are my headsails?

BARZILLAI: Aye, sir!

CHASE: Crank away on the windlass!

BOND: Crank away on the windlass, sir! CHAPPEL: Nickerson, pull!

CHASE: Make sail, God damn it!

JOY: God and all of Nantucket is watching, men.

Anchor's trim!

LAWRENCE: Captain! Head down! JOY: Mind your head, Captain.

CHASE: What's the matter, Mr. Sheppard? THOMAS: Gasket's fouled the sheet, sir.

GARDNER: It won't clear, Mr. Chase!

Topgallant sheet is jammed!

RAMSDELL: The gasket still won't clear! COLE: We don't have enough sail on yet.

CHASE: Still won't clear!

Watch your step!

JOY: It's the gasket, Owen!

Stand clear.

SAILOR: Whoa! Bloody hell!

JOY: Let fall your course! SAILORS: Heave!

Make fast!

(INDISTINCT SHOUTING)

SAILOR: Nice piece of work, Mr. Chase.

If we make Cape Verdes in the next two weeks, we'll have a decent chance of reaching the Pacific on schedule.

Corn, Mr. Chase?

Oh, no, thank you, sir.

Never did have much of a taste for it.

That's odd.

Told your father grew corn on Cape Cod.

That's right. He did.

As you can imagine, I certainly grew tired of eating it every day.

(CHUCKLES)

Corn.

Okra. Beans, I believe? Mmm-hmm.

Before he went to jail.

Are you familiar with this story, Mr. Joy?

JOY: Sir? (CLEARS THROAT)

Were you aware that Mr. Chase was effectively orphaned due to his father's incarceration?

Well, we all have our own paths to sea.

As a rule, we tend not to ask too many questions.

POLLARD: Hmm.

Can't have been easy, though.

Yet you had Nantucket's great seafaring family to adopt you.

This is far from the first time I've been called a landsman or an off-islander by some Nantucketer, reminding me how I am not a part of that family.

Now, if the Captain will excuse me, there are whaleboats and watches to assign.

No, sir. Not for me.

Not a drop? No, sir.

Like I said, sometimes the fewer questions one asks, the better.

(LIQUID POURING)

(SAILORS TALKING INDISTINCTLY)

CHAPPEL: Serve that food up.

RAMSDELL: Getting this slop on the first day?

Cheap bastards. Where's the meat?

(BARZILLAI LAUGHS)

BARZILLAI: That's a gorgeous girl, Mr. Chappel.

A vision of beauty, that. Carved on a varnished whale bone.

Let me have a touch. Don't touch.

I thought you were married, anyway.

I am, and there she is.

Well, that's her nose, anyway. (ALL LAUGHING)

CHASE: Congratulations, ladies.

That was a fine job trimming sails today.

A sorrier pack of deck wallopers I don't think I've ever seen.

Mr. Chappel.

Sir! You're Captain's harpooner.

Mr. Lawrence, you'll be mine.

Aye, sir.

And Mr. Peterson.

Second mate's harpooner.

Aye, sir.

There'll be six men to a boat.

First drills are tomorrow. Six bells sharp.

We're not even east of Halifax, sir.

What's your name?

Coffin. Henry Coffin.

CHAPPEL: He's the Captain's cousin, sir.

Well, well, Mr. Coffin.

You think a whale knows if it's east of Halifax?

(ALL LAUGHING)

I don't know who all of you are or how you got here.

Some of you probably have felonies to hide and you're on the run.

That's fine. I don't give a damn.

But in return, you exist for one thing and one thing only.

And that is whale oil.

I intend to fill our 2,000 barrels and be home as quickly as possible.

And even when the weather is fine and there are no whales, Mr. Coffin, we will lower the boats and practice all maneuvers necessary in the capture of a whale.

And any man who is idle will find himself swimming home.

Is that understood?

Aye, sir.

Sir.

Greenhorn.

On deck.

CHAPPEL: On you go.

Aye, aye, landsman.

CHASE: Thomas Nickerson, right? NICKERSON: Aye, sir.

CHASE: You know, some feel sick at first.

(GRUNTING) (YELPING)

(LAUGHING) Please, pull me back up!

Best way to square it with King Neptune, boy!

Please bring me up!

Better now?

(COUGHING)

Ah, shit.

Sir, I am so sorry.

Well, now you got something to write home to your mother about.

My mother's buried up in Smith's Hill.

There's a stone for my father, too.

He was lost at sea before I was born.

CHASE: Here, give me that.

Well, this is your family now, boy.

For better or for worse.

Worse, mostly.

Swab the deck, kid.

CHASE: Dogwatch! You're gonna learn what it takes to be whalers today, mates.

SAILORS: Aye, sir!

JOY: You led that line wrong, Nickerson. NICKERSON: Aye, sir.

JOY: We'll stay at this till sundown if we have to.

BARZILLAI: Aye, Mr. Joy, sir!

Main topsail leech lines!

Harpooner, make ready to boat!

PETERSON: Aye, sir! RAMSDELL: Aye, Mr. Joy!

CHASE: Go main topsail leech lines.

Too slow, you damn coofs!

JOY: The bailing piggins.

CHASE: You will learn every inch of this ship before you return to your bunks. SAILOR: Aye, sir!

COFFIN: Sweat that line, Barz.

CHASE: You need to move quicker, Mr. Ray. BARZILLAI: Aye, Mr. Chase.

PETERSON: Ain't no greenhorns no more, Mr. Chase.

(SAILORS LAUGHING)

CHAPPEL: You're a sailor now!

(MEN CHEERING)

CHASE: Not bad, Mr. Ray. Well done.

Forecourse bunts! ALL: Aye, sir.

JOY: Get used to it, lads. You're gonna work like horses.

Mr. Chase?

Sir.

POLLARD: Set stunsails.

Is that wise, sir? We're nearing the Gulf Stream.

Best keep it five knots till we can see the weather.

We are two days behind.

We need to make up the time if we're to catch the easterlies.

Set stunsails.

Set stunsails. NICKERSON: Aye, Mr. Chase!

CHASE: Come on, move. Belay that! Set stunsails!

Get aloft, Mr. Coffin.

The captain wants speed. Aye, sir.

CHASE: Look for braces, lads.

Trim for speed. Aye, sir.

JOY: Set fore the main topsail and topgallant stunsails, men. Move it.

Make fast your stunsail halyard.

PETERSON: Make fast stunsail halyard, sir.

COFFIN: Stunsail boom ready, sir!

PETERSON: Bracing fore topsail, sir.

(ALL CHEERING) Hey!

(LAUGHING)

(CHEERING)

CHAPPEL: The captain's got us moving now! RAMSDELL: We're finally getting somewhere!

CHAPPEL: She may be old, but she can still roll, boys!

(CHEERING CONTINUES)

CHASE: Sir, a squall on the starboard bow.

We must shorten sail immediately.

Not just yet, Mr. Chase.

Sir, we are headed into a squall at more than 8 knots, and it's moving faster than that.

Let it come. The men are soft from months on land.

They need a good baptism.

Let them know our work has begun.

If we don't shorten sail and bear off, it'll catch us on the beam.

Mr. Chase, we will stand on.

Mr. Lawrence?

Hold our course.

Holding course, sir.

POLLARD: We'll lose half a day running like that. We'll skirt the edge of it.

If the men can't handle a gust like this, then God help us all.

(WIND WHOOSHING)

JOY: Best secure for heavy weather.

PETERSON: Rough weather coming up, boys.

Get this deck secure.

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

JOY: Double gripes on the boats!

Best prepare for weather, Mr. Bond.

We're headed into a squall.

CHASE: Secure the main hatch! SAILOR: She's moving fast!

We must fall off and run with it.

We will stand on, Mr. Chase.

Mr. Lawrence!

Hold your course. Holding course, sir.

(CLATTERING)

CHASE: Sea's coming aboard!

PETERSON: Hold on!

Shorten sail, Mr. Chase!

Climb to weather and grab the shrouds! SAILOR: Climb to weather!

CHASE: Get to windward and hold on!

We need to get those sails down! CHAPPEL: Go lee!

BARZILLAI: Nickerson, hold fast!

CHASE: Hold steady lines!

(SAILORS YELLING)

LAWRENCE: Hold fast!

POLLARD: Turn the ship!

Turn to leeward!

CHASE: No! The damage is done!

Strike topgallants. Let fly sheets! No, turn the ship!

Veer off, Mr. Lawrence.

It's too late! It's too goddamn late!

We'll be broadsided! POLLARD: Turn this ship!

CHASE: Hold on! POLLARD: Turn!

CHASE: Strike those damn topgallants!

Hold on!


CHASE: Look out!

(YELLING)

(SCREAMING)

(SCREAMING)

Mr. Joy!

We have to cut away the topgallants! JOY: Topgallants away!

CHASE: We have to get her upright!

(GRUNTS)

(PANTING)


(KNOCKING ON DOOR)

CHASE: You wish to see me, sir?

At six bells tomorrow, you will assemble the crew.

Inform them that we will be returning to Nantucket for repairs.

You will then apologize to them for interfering with a captain's order, which nearly cost the lives of every man on this ship today.

What?

I'll accept your resignation upon our return to port.

That will be all.

It was your order to set stunsails, sir. That decision was sound.

The men needed testing.

So you send them into a storm?

That was unlucky.

No, it was bad seamanship.

And blaming misfortune is just plain weakness.

Damn your impertinence!

Do you know who you're speaking to?

My name is Captain George Pollard.

Pollard!

And you, Mr. Chase, no matter how many whale pins you may have on your lapel, are nothing more than the son of a farmer who's managed to bully his way into an officer's tunic.

Now get out.

To return to port without a single barrel of oil would be a mistake, sir.

And not behoove a man whose name is Pollard.

Or Chase, for that matter.

And the best thing for both of us would be to work all hours God sends us, fill this ship with oil and be home inside a year and rid of one another as quickly as possible.

Trust me, I am every bit as desirous of that as you.

Of course, that is a captain's decision.

NICKERSON: They were like an ill-married couple.

An ill-married couple will tolerate each other, Mr. Melville.

But an ill-married couple can also bring down a ship.

Are you married, Mr. Melville?

I am. God have mercy on you.

First child on the way, too.

So, does your good wife know that you've brought all you have in the world here tonight and given it to a stranger?

No, sir.

You're full of surprises, aren't you?

So, the Essex did not return to port.

She did not.

She continued out to sea. Yes, she did.

And before long, we heard that call that all whalemen pray for.

"Blows."

Blows!

RAMSDELL: To windward!

There she blows!

POLLARD: Right or sperm, Mr. Ramsdell?

CHASE: Sperm whales they are!

CHAPPEL: There go the flukes!

POLLARD: Mr. Chase!

Hoist and swing boats.

All hands! All hands on deck!

All hands on deck! (SAILORS WHOOPING)

CHASE: Away the boats.

JOY: Lower away!


CHASE: Straight! Crack them backbones.

RAMSDELL: Aye, sir!

CHASE: Give way all.

Spring those oars till your arms fall off.

POLLARD: There they breach!

Thataway, boys! Full pressure!

CHAPPEL: Aye, sir!

Come on! Put your back into it.

Pull!

Pull like a vengeance!

RAMSDELL: There she blows!

That's a calf. SAILOR: Whoo-hoo!

(SAILOR LAUGHING)

That's the calf?

That's the cow.

(WHOOPING)

LAWRENCE: And that's our boy! That's the money.

Nickerson, push! Sorry, sir.

Forty-barreler?

Fifty.

(GRUNTING) CHASE: Oh, he's a buster!

Bite the oars, lads.

Blister your goddamn lungs!

Full pressure!

Smartly, lads! Smartly!

Mind your oars!

CHASE: Mr. Ramsdell, prepare the line. RAMSDELL: Aye, sir.

CHASE: Mr. Lawrence, the first one's mine.

Take me to the pretty spot.

LAWRENCE: Pull! CHASE: Come on. Stay on him.

(SAILORS WHOOPING)

You're on your first Nantucket sleigh ride, boy.

NICKERSON: Oh, my God!

Whoo!

Look at him!

The most fearsome creature ever to live on this Earth.

(ALL WHOOPING)

LAWRENCE: He sounds.

My hands!

(WHALE SPUTTERING)

LAWRENCE: We need to wet the line, Nickerson.

JOY: Give way, lads. Give way.

RAMSDELL: Got 140 fathoms of line left, Mr. Chase.

Eighty fathoms of line left, sir!

He's gonna pull us under!

Matthew, I need your line!

Keep going!

Peterson, give me the line. Aye, sir.

JOY: Give me that line, Mr. Peterson.

RAMSDELL: We're down to 60 fathoms of line left, sir!

Twenty fathoms, Mr. Chase. Tie it off!

JOY: Safe! Go!

Peterson, lay out. Aye, sir.

How many fathoms can he go?

PETERSON: 70 fathoms left, sir.

No, no, no, wait.

Owen! No, no! Not yet!

Don't touch that line!

PETERSON: Down to 50 fathoms, sir.

Owen, God damn it!

I said don't touch it!

PETERSON: 30 fathoms left, Mr. Joy.

Ten fathoms left, sir!


(MEN CHEERING)

(GRUNTS)

Backwater!

Push!

Chimney's afire!

Chimney's afire!

LAWRENCE: Afire!


CHASE: Hurry it along, lads.

LAWRENCE: God! Get out, you bastards.

BOND: Blubber in the oil.

Smell that, boys! That's us making money!

LAWRENCE: Get out of there, you sons of bitches.

(SAWING)

RAMSDELL: There, you got it? BARZILLAI: There's not a chance.

(GRUNTS)

PETERSON: How's it looking? It's not good.

RAMSDELL: That's it.

Mr. Chase, sir. Yeah?

That's all of it, sir. We can't get any more out.

That's the gold in there, boys. Come on, keep digging.

We're too big to wriggle down there.

Then find someone who can.

Nickerson! Come here, boy.

(WHISTLES)

Hey! I said come here.

Climb on into him.

RAMSDELL: Come on, Thomas.

What's in there is worth a hell of a lot more than what they're boiling down.

(COUGHING)

Sir!

I can't, I'm...

I'm sorry. I can't.

You get down there, or I'll have you sleep down there.

You best put that between your teeth, boy.

Stinks worse than the devil's asshole down there.

Thanks.

Sorry.

CHAPPEL: Here, Nickerson, take my pillow with you.

(MEN LAUGHING)

Down you go.

(GRUNTS)

(RETCHING)

A man gets to know himself down there.

(CHUCKLES SOFTLY)

They ever send you into a whale's head? MELVILLE: No.

I was spared.

Well, that's where the treasure is.

I'll never forget that first bull.

Forty-seven barrels.

'Course, the happiness was short-lived.

The waters there had all been fished out?

That they had.

So, we headed further out.

Yeah.

Took us a month to round the Horn.

Left the South Atlantic behind with a sliver of hope that things could change for the better.

But making the Pacific didn't improve our lot.

Whale sightings were too damn scarce.

After nearly a year at sea, the temperaments of our captain and first mate grew more strained.

Captain Pollard spent most days and nights in his cabin, afraid to look his crew in the eye.

Our hold was almost empty.

And to gaze upon our paltry efforts only served as a reminder that we were a long way from going home.

(CHILDREN TALKING INDISTINCTLY)

(TRADER SPEAKING LOCAL LANGUAGE)

BOND: No, no. I don't talk that talk.

Speak English. Offer me more.

Here, sir. This, Nantucket whale oil.

(INTERPRETER TRANSLATING)

Ain't no skinny hog worth more than that. More!

(FIRST MATE SPEAKING SPANISH)

(SPEAKING SPANISH) (CAPTAIN SPEAKING)

(FIRST MATE SPEAKING)

(CAPTAIN SPEAKING)

(FIRST MATE SPEAKING)

Capitán. Excuse me.

The locals told me your voyage was waylaid, sir.

Captain George Pollard. The Essex.

Capitán Clemente Pelaez, the Santa Maria.

Would you buy a colleague a drink?

(MEN SPEAKING SPANISH)

No, no.

Bad luck? How far out?

Far enough for only a fool to go.

How far would that be?

A thousand leagues along the equator.

The Offshore Grounds.

Were there whales there?

More than you've ever dreamed.

Hundreds.

Fields of flukes far as the eye can see.

Could have filled up 3,000 barrels in the space of a day.

What do you mean, "could have"?

If it weren't for that demon.

A whale.

White as alabaster.

Hundred feet long.

Sent six of my crew to their graves.

And the rest of us, something to remember him by.

Now, this white whale, did he dance a jig and pick your pocket as well?

Hmm?

Gracias.

You believe that?

If we set sail now, catch the south easterlies at their best time and fill our belly, we could be home in six months.

What say you, Mr. Chase?

No need to endure our predicament for a moment longer than necessary.

Amen to that.

Amen.

NICKERSON: Greed took hold of our captain and first mate.

So we headed out.

A thousand leagues along the equator.

Where knowledge ended, speculation began.

That's where the whales had gone to hide.

As far from man as they could possibly go.

But we hunted them down.

Centuries before, sailors feared sailing off the edge of the Earth.

But we were headed for the edge of sanity.

Trust gave way to doubt.

Hope to blind superstition.

Captain, the men are talking.

That's what men do.

They aren't happy with your decision to sail out this far.

Well, did you correct them?

Did you remind them of our purpose to fill this ship with whale oil, and if the whales are 1,000 leagues out, that that is where we will go?

Cousin, please.

This is madness.

You have let yourself be influenced by that man.

You must turn this ship back.

I suggest you go back down, reassure the men, be a leader and don't ever, ever abuse the privilege of family with me again.

Mr. Coffin.


(CREAKING)

What is it?

Listen.

Mr. Chase? I see some white water.

CHASE: Where? BARZILLAI: Portside!

LAWRENCE: We're away! JOY: Portside, Captain!

CHAPPEL: Where are they? PETERSON: You see anything?

Lower away!

Lower away! Lower away! (ALL EXCLAIMING EXCITEDLY)

The devil take the Mexican grounds!

(EXCLAIMS)

(EXCLAIMS)

POLLARD: Peak oars!

Give it to him, Mr. Chappel!

Stick him, man! Stick him!

(YELLS)

JOY: Dead ahead, Peterson!

(GRUNTS)

(THUD) (MEN GRUNTING)

Don't let him chew your oars, boys. Back to it.

(THUD) (MEN EXCLAIMING)

(GASPING)

The whale? Yes.

So it's true? Yes.

Too much is true.

BARZILLAI: Get it up!

Full pressure!

(CHASE WHISTLES)

CHASE: Mr. Bond!

Back the foreyard, lower the tackle!

Aye, sir!

JOY: Here she comes, Peterson. Now, now!

(GROANING)

(GRUNTS)

Mr. Lawrence, take us leeward, head us straight for the school.

LAWRENCE: Aye, sir.

BOND: Hot tar, sir. We'll find him.

POLLARD: We're boat to black skin.

Beach us on her!

(CHEERING)

She's ours, men!

(WHALE BELLOWING)

(BANGING CONTINUES)

(BREATHING HEAVILY)

(THUD)

What was that, Mr. Lawrence?

(RUMBLING)

BOND: Mr. Chase!

God damn it.

Find Mr...

(GRUNTS)

NICKERSON: Mr. Easton!

CHASE: Get Mr. Lawrence to man the pumps!

Where is he?

Port bow!

Get me the biggest irons we have.

He wants a fight?

Never seen a whale do that.

CHASE: Mr. Lawrence, take the wheel.

Mr. Ramsdell, secure the other end of the line to the foremast. RAMSDELL: Aye, sir.

As I live and breathe, he's mine.


(GRUNTS) (GROANS)

Ah!

(EXCLAIMS)

Cut the line! RAMSDELL: Look out!

(GRUNTS)

(CRACKING)

(CREAKING)

(SCREAMING)

(SCREAMING)

(GASPS)

Captain! What?

The Essex! She's listing.

Turn this boat around!


NICKERSON: Help me! Nickerson!

Mr. Joy! Here!

Give me your hand! Help!

Nickerson!


Mr. Chase!

A whale, sir.

It stove the ship.

What?

We lost Easton and Sanborn.

The pumps are useless, sir.

Prepare to abandon ship.

We can't row our way home.

We'll have to strip her of her sails and jimmy-rig something. Aye, sir.

JOY: Gather as much food and water as you can carry.

We're gonna need all the fresh water you can find.

RAMSDELL: Nickerson, you grab as much as you can.

Barz, come with me.

Sweet Lord!

JOY: First, the sails, then the provisions.

SAILOR: Get as much food as you can carry, lad.

JOY: Make haste, boys!

Nickerson, there are more casks in steerage.

Got it? Hardtack is dry.

Move sprightly, gentlemen.

Lower away!

Take those tack lines. COLE: Up aloft!

LAWRENCE: Lower away! Bring it down! JOY: Mr. Cole, get that yard down.

LAWRENCE: Bring it down. Keep it coming!

Hold off!

(GRUNTS)

Come on, Nickerson! LAWRENCE: Get those sails!

NICKERSON: There you go.

CHASE: Get that yard down!

We need the sails. Not enough water.

CHAPPEL: Get the barrels, now!

CHASE: Strip that rigging!

BOND: More fresh water! More hardtack! Come on!

RAMSDELL: I can see more casks in the steerage!

(GRUNTS)

NICKERSON: Benjamin! Quick! Come on!

BARZILLAI: Give me your hand! CHASE: Get him up.

BARZILLAI: I got you.

Hardtack!

JOY: Come on! Move it!

Step lively, Mr. Nickerson!

Gotta get away from the oil!

CHAPPEL: She's going down! She's listing! JOY: Where's Owen?

Nickerson, where is Mr. Chase?

NICKERSON: He was just here, sir.

COLE: Come on, hurry up! JOY: Owen!

NICKERSON: Mr. Chase! JOY: We gotta shove off!

Come on, now, boys!

COLE: Oil on deck!

Captain! NICKERSON: Mr. Chase!

(INDISTINCT SHOUTING)

(CHASE GRUNTS)

Mr. Chase, sir!

JOY: Owen!

Where is the first mate?

Owen! NICKERSON: Mr. Chase, sir!

(GRUNTS)

JOY: Owen! RAMSDELL: She's gonna blow!

Owen! COLE: We gotta move!

No, wait! Wait!

Mr. Chase, sir!

Mr. Chase!

(GRUNTS)


There he is! There he is! There he is!

BOND: Over here! NICKERSON: Mr. Chase!

Move that!

Mr. Chase, sir.

Here! BOND: Get ahold, now.

We got you.

Sir. BOND: You're all right now, Mr. Chase.

Going fishing, are we?

Clean and load it, Mr. Joy.

(GASPING)

Back away, or she'll take us down with her.


(BLOWS)

Captain.

What about our provisions?

Two ounces of hardtack a day per man.

And half a cup of water.

Hey, man, we can't live on that.

RAMSDELL: Not for more than a few days.

(WHALE BELLOWING DISTANTLY)

It's he.

(BELLOWING CONTINUES)

Yeah, it's him, all right.

You don't fool me, Mr. Chase.

POLLARD: Mr. Coffin?

That right? You put us here.

You know you put us here.

Hey! Put it down! Mr. Coffin, put the pistol down.

Say you're scared! CHAPPEL: What are you doing?

POLLARD: Mr. Coffin, put the pistol down.

You know what happens when the food and water runs out?

Do as the captain says, Coffin!

I just wanna see the landsman scared.

Mr. Coffin, put the pistol down. That's an order!

Do as the captain says! Now! Say it!

POLLARD: Henry. Say it!

Say it!

POLLARD: Henry!

Put the pistol down.

Henry!

Put it down.

(EXHALES DEEPLY)


So east it was.

Back in the direction we'd come.

Though only the sun and compass told us so.

All directions looked the same.

Our hope was to catch the Westerlies to Easter Island.

A journey of 3,000 miles.

In 12 days, we have drifted south.

Six degrees latitude.

We're not one mile closer to Easter Island.

RAMSDELL: We stayed in the same place.

(COUGHS)

PETERSON: We are cursed.

We'll make up for it when we catch the variables.

We'll catch them.

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

(INDISTINCT SHOUTING)

Chappel!

COLE: Chappel!

Chappel!

You've got him, Captain!

PETERSON: Mr. Joy, the halyard's jammed!

Mr. Joy! You all right, Mr. Joy?

(GROANS)

JOY: Grab the tiller!

Grab it! CHASE: Matthew!

Get that sail down!

(WHALE BELLOWING)


Matthew. Hey, what happened?

What happened?

Owen. What are you doing here?

Let me take a look. No, no, no.

Lay still. Let me look. Owen, I'm fine.

All right. Just relax. Relax. Let me take a look.

I'm fine! I know. I know.

I just wanna take a look.

I banged my head. Just a scratch, all right?

Just a scratch. Give him some water.

I don't need any water! Give him some goddamn water!

No, no, no. I don't need water. I'm fine.

Yeah. CHASE: Take that. Take it.

(GROANING)

Hey. I got you, I got you.

You're all right. You're all right.

Hey! What're you all looking at? I'm fine.

Captain Pollard. Fit as a fiddle.

Fit as a goddamned fiddle. You hear me?

Owen. Yeah.

I'm fine.

All right? I'm fine!

You're a tough son of a bitch. Thank you. I'm fine. Get out of here.

CHASE: He's good.

Let's go.

COFFIN: Why waste water on a dead man?

Them two men have known each other, sailed together since childhood.

Now, tell me, could you sit there and watch your own brother die?

Simply a matter of numbers, Mr. Chappel.

There's not enough for all of us.

(MUTTERING) Why waste water on a dead man?

Why waste water on...

Why waste water? Why waste?

Why waste water on a dead man?

Mr. Nickerson?

Why waste water... You all right, sir?

I cannot. Cannot what?

(SIGHS) No, you...

You have enough. More than enough.

But, sir, we've come so far.

We have come to an end.

We have an agreement, sir.

Take the money and leave!

The devil's bargain.

No, sir.

The devil loves unspoken secrets.

Especially those that fester in a man's soul.

What's yours?

I am not a great writer.

I am not Hawthorne.

But from my first hearing of it, this tale has haunted me.

It consumes me.

I fear if I do not write it,

then I should never write again.

What else?

I fear if I do write it, that it will not be as good as it should be.

Continue the story, sir.

For the both of us.

Pass that down.

BOND: Thank you, sir.

We thank you, Lord, for this is our food.

I'm sorry.

For life and health, and every good.

Let all manner to... Land.

Land!

NICKERSON: Land! Land! BARZILLAI: Land!

Land! NICKERSON: Land!

Oars! Give way! Give way!

Oars! Now! Give way! Row!

(MEN LAUGHING)

BARZILLAI: I saw it, Mr. Chase. CHASE: That you did, boy.

Hold fast. Hold fast! Hold fast!

LAWRENCE: Mr. Chase, sir. What is it? Mr. Chase!

What the devil is it? Why have you stopped?

He's been following us!

LAWRENCE: What is he talking about?

BOND: There's nothing out there, Mr. Chase!

There ain't nothing out there, sir! Sir, what are you doing?

Brace! Brace! Brace! (ALL SCREAMING)

No!

(GRUNTS)

Where is he?

(ALL SCREAMING)

(GRUNTS)

(GRUNTS)

(MEN COUGHING)

(ALL GASPING)


(BIRD SQUAWKING)

(GRUNTS)

POLLARD: This could be Ducie Island.

Without a map, compass or quadrant, there's no way to be certain.

We will keep fires going night and day.

Hope a passing ship catches sight of our smoke.

(HAMMERING)


CHASE: This is what I wanted you to see.

They've been here a long time, no doubt.

Waiting for a ship.

But no ship came.

No ship is going to come.

If we stay, we die.

How long do you think it'll take the tropic birds to stop coming here once they see their eggs eaten?

(METAL CLANGING)

It's a privilege to know the moment of one's death in advance, be able to prepare for it.

Curse to be so far from home without a chance to say goodbyes, without a chance to make peace, without a chance to settle the scores.

Then let us at least settle those between us, Captain.

Captain of what?

The Essex was lost through no fault of yours.

I was as much to blame for...

You are not the captain.

But you were born to do this job.

I was just born into it.

What do we do, do you think, George?

And what offense did we give God to upset him so?

The only creature to have offended God here is the whale.

Not us?

In our arrogance, our greed, look where we find ourselves.

We are supreme creatures made in God's own likeness.

Earthly kings whose business it is to circumnavigate the planet bestowed to us.

To bend nature to our will.

You really feel like an earthly king after everything that we've been through?

We're nothing. We're...

We're specks. And dust.

We sail into the sun at dawn.

If we are to die, then with God's grace, let us die as men.

(CLANGING)

(HAMMERING)

POLLARD: Are we ready, Mr. Weeks?

WEEKS: Aye, sir.

Mr. Chappel?

Mr. Wright?

I can't do it, sir.

Me, Wrights and Weeks, we're staying.

(BREATHING WITH DIFFICULTY)

CHASE: You ready to go, Matthew?

I'll give you a hand. Here, you gotta get up.

No, there's no point. You hear me?

No, we're going home. We're going home.

There's no point.

Just go. (SIGHS)

God damn it, Matthew.

It's all right.

Well, I'll send a boat for you the minute we get back.

Then we'll play cards back in Nantucket, all right?

Yeah.

It's a deal. Good.

You want me to open that for you?

JOY: Ah...

I think I'll manage.

If it comes to that.

God be with you, brother.

Yeah, and you.

MR. BOND: Brother Peterson?

Y'all coming with us?

Mr. Peterson.

Why don't you come in our boat with Mr. Bond here?


Where... Where is he?

Pollard?

Mr. Lawrence. Mr. Lawrence, wake up.

Where's the other boat gone?

Pollard! NICKERSON: Captain Pollard!

Captain Pollard! Captain Pollard, sir!

MR. CHASE: Pollard. NICKERSON: Captain!

Captain Pollard!

MR. CHASE: Pollard!

(GASPS)

What's the matter?

(CRYING)

Benjamin. What are you doing?

He's dead.

Putting him overboard, sir.

(FABRIC RIPPING)

Look at me.

Look at me, Benjamin.

No right-minded sailor discards what might yet save him.

Listen to me, boy. Listen to me.

He can help us.

MR. BOND: My God. My heavenly king.

Sweetness is the power of his grace.

With longing eyes, thy creatures await on thee for daily food.

NICKERSON: (SOFTLY) My soul is dead.

So it was decided.

We prepared the body.

We removed the organs.

Separated his limbs from his body and cut all the flesh from the bones.

After which, we closed the body and we sewed it up as decently as we could and committed it to the sea.

We ate the heart first.

(SIGHS)

You judge me.

No.

(SIGHS)

There.

There.

It is done.

It is out.

And you've never told anyone?

No.

Not even your wife?

Do you think she could ever love me if she knew the abominations I had committed?

MRS. NICKERSON: Yes. She would.

And if you had told me the story when we met, I would still wear your ring today.

The strength of that boy still lives in you.

I see that.

Even if you don't.


You can finish your story now, my love.

(GASPING)

(COUGHS)

Hey, sit up.

Listen, put your head back.

(COUGHING)

Look, we still got a few drops of water left.

Don't you quit on me. We're going home.

Do you have a family back home, Mr. Chase?

Yeah, I have a wife.

Yes, and a son or a daughter.


(SIGHS)

Very well.

Captain. We will draw again.

We will do no such thing.

We'll draw again.

POLLARD: Mr. Ramsdell, you will assume command of this vessel.

Cousin, will you?

You're our...

You're our captain. The men need you.

The men will be fine.

Please.

Please. Please.

Henry. (CRYING) Let us draw again.

It is an order.

If you cannot do it, pass the pistol to another man.

(GUN COCKING)

Henry, no, no, no!

MR. COLE: You gotta help me, kid. You gotta help me.

NICKERSON: We were weeks in the doldrums.

That part of the Pacific is more desert than ocean.

The sun beating down.

My fear.

All I could think about was that everyone would die, and I'd be the last left alive.

And as best Mr. Chase could tell, we were still 800 miles from land.

(THUDDING)

POLLARD: Mr. Chase.

Ah.

Captain Pollard.

I am happy to see you.

Been very little happiness in our survival.

Or in ours, sir.

POLLARD: Barzillai?

The third boat?

MR. CHASE: They've, uh...

They've been gone for days.

I'm afraid they're lost, sir.

(RUMBLING)


POLLARD: Mr. Chase, you have the best position.

It's just a whale.

He's there! Throw the lance!

Throw it!

Throw it! Throw the lance! Come on.

Throw it!

Come on.

(WHALE CLICKING)

POLLARD: Kill it! He's there!

Throw the lance!

Why didn't you kill it?


You're a damn fool.


NICKERSON: Currents drew us apart and that was the last we would see of Captain Pollard's whale boat.

SAILOR: A boat!

Broad on the port bow!


May God have mercy.


(WEAKLY) Mr. Chase.

(WEAKLY) Father!

(WHIMPERING) Don't leave me, Father!

(SEAGULL SQUAWKING)


Mr. Chase.

Mr. Chase.

Sir, look. Look, sir.

Mr. Chase, look.

Wake up, Mr. Chase!

Here, wake up!

Please wake up, sir, there's land.

Mr. Chase, look.


NICKERSON: We were rescued there, off the island of Más Afuera, Chile, 90 days after the sinking of the Essex.

They gave us some old clothes.

Fed us, too.

It was hard to eat at first.

Strange.

They looked after us as best they could till we found a ship that would carry us home.

That voyage took another three months.

It looked like the whole island turned out to see us return.

But there were no cheers.

Only silence.

They looked at us like we were apparitions, phantoms.

We'd said nothing of the details of our survival to anyone, but I wondered if they somehow knew of our privations.

Maybe they were just curious.


Oh, my God!

(SOBBING)

I promised, didn't I?

Oh, God.

Hi.

Hey, sweetie. Who's this?

Phoebe Ann.

(PEGGY LAUGHING)

Phoebe Ann Chase, huh?

This is Daddy.

Hey, sweetie.

PEGGY: It's your daddy.

Oh, my God.

NICKERSON: Of course, they couldn't leave him alone.

Mr. Chase and his wife had scarcely walked a block towards home when he was stopped and made to return to the Maritime office.

There were business matters still in question.

So, to the matter.

Due to the significant loss of life and property on our voyage, it seems there will be an inquiry.

And as captain and first mate, we will be expected to give an account of what happened.

Yes, of course.

And having discussed this with the ship owners and my father, it is clear that full disclosure will have ramifications.

Terrible ramifications for the whole industry.

That a whale brought down the Essex.

But it's the truth.

If the insurance houses and investors were to start worrying about sea monsters sinking ships, sailors drawing lots to survive...

We are in the oil business.

All of us.

And as in any business, the probability of success must always be greater than the risk incurred.

So, what are you suggesting, George?

That you say the ship ran aground.

That's a lie.

And that the men that died, drowned. And that's another lie.

Think on it. They will make you captain.

Well, that pledge I already have in writing.

Only on the condition you bring home a ship full of oil.

This way, it's guaranteed.

FULLER: You would be a wealthy man.

The name Chase need no longer be a landsman's name, but an established name that belongs among the great families of Nantucket.

You want me to whitewash what happened for profit?

We are asking you to be pragmatic.

The Essex was stove by a white whale.

And those of us that survived in ill-equipped whaleboats had to commit abominations in order to survive.

And, on our return, we're expected to spread barefaced lies so that you, the ship owners of Nantucket, might line your pockets and sleep well at night?

Well, I will not embroider the truth.

Nor should you, George.

NICKERSON: That last time I saw him...

Mr. Chase, sir!

I couldn't find the right words to say what I wanted to.

Thomas.

NICKERSON: Perhaps there are no words.

Um...

I'm gonna be on my way to Falmouth and...

It's...

It's been an honor, sir, to sail with you.

The honor's been mine, Mr. Nickerson.

Here.

Good luck out there, Thomas.

And you, sir.


Next day, George Pollard was called before the inquiry.

(CROWD MURMURING)

MASON: Gentlemen, Captain George Pollard.

NICKERSON: And all the important men in Nantucket were there.

It was a formality.

Good day to you, Captain. Please sit down.

For the record, then...

The Essex was stove by a white whale 1,200 leagues west of Ecuador.

It was as if Owen Chase himself had spoken.

Told them the truth.

Captain Pollard's conscience was clear.

But the inquiry was a sham.

Pollard went out again,

looking for the white whale.

He never found it.

He ran a second ship aground off Hawaii.

Twice cursed.

Never sailed again.

And Owen Chase?

He was a man of his word.

First, he sent a boat back to Ducie Island.

Mr. Joy had passed.

But the other three were, incredibly, still alive.

And then?

And then he packed up his family and moved to New Bedford.

Started over.

Became a merchant captain, sailing on his own terms.

Well, you certainly got your money's worth, Mr. Melville.

These February nights are the longest of the year.

Well, you can both rest now.

Believe me, I shall not be resting for some time.

NICKERSON: Why?

You got your story.

You know, your plot. It's all there.

Maybe it wasn't a plot I was after.

No. What, then?

Something else you've given me tonight. And what's that?

The courage to go where one does not want to go.

Mr. Melville, what you've heard, what I've told you,

will it all be of service to your book?

It will be a work of fiction, Mr. Nickerson, inspired by truth.

But I don't believe I'll feel the need to use all of it.

Thank you. Here.

Take that with you. No. The money is for you. I insist.

I insist you keep it.

And I insist one person in this conversation is sober.

So it's back to, uh... Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Well, good luck.

Thank you.

You know, I heard a man from Pennsylvania drilled a hole in the ground recently and found oil.

That can't be true.

I heard it, too.

Oil from the ground.

Fancy that.


(ENGLISH - SDH)