In the Heart of the Sea special viewing on Nantucket

Maggie Toole


(December 17, 2015)

Ron Howard’s much anticipated film “In the Heart of the Sea” premiered through the Nantucket Historical Association at the Dreamland Theater on Wednesday, December 9, preceding its national release on December 11. The film, starring Chris Hemsworth, is based on the book written by local author, Nathaniel Philbrick. The premiere, which was originally scheduled for March 13, 2015 was also slated to be accompanied by an advanced screening was canceled without explanation.

Despite this, the NHA and Dreamland decided to carry out their plan for an advanced community screening and continued to work with Warner Brothers. Islanders could enter the free contest beginning October 15. The same person could enter the contest multiple times, but once chosen, a recipient could not win again. Each winner received two non transferable tickets to the screening.

The NHA opened the exhibit Stove by a Whale: 20 men, 3 boats, 96 days in April 2015. The exhibit, which will continue to welcome visitors until November 2016, takes its viewers through the sailors’ attempts to sail across the Pacific Ocean with limited resources after their boat was destroyed by a sperm whale. The exhibit also teaches viewers about Nantucket as a whaling empire and the retelling of the Essex’s story over the years.

The movie, based on Philbrick’s novel, recounts the story of the whaling ship the Essex which left Nantucket in 1820 lead by captain George Pollard Jr. and first mate Owen Chase. The ship was struck by a sperm whale and sunk in the Pacific Ocean. Twenty men were cast out to sea and forced to resort to cannibalism to survive, leaving only eight alive when they were rescued. Owen Chase wrote an account of his experience which later inspired Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick”. Philbrick also referred to Chase’s recount as well as that of cabin boy Thomas Nickerson when writing In the Heart of the Sea.

The screening drew winners from around the island, all were excited to see the movie before it was officially released.

“We stood in a line that was winding all around the building,it was almost all locals, everyone was friendly and well dressed. There was a red carpet where you could take pictures, free gifts and concessions,” said Nantucket High School freshman Jackie McGrath who was lucky enough to attend the screening.

The viewers were all excited to see the highly anticipated film, and the winners of free advanced tickets made sure not to miss the opportunity. “The theatre was completely packed, not a seat empty,” said McGrath “It was just a good atmosphere, everyone was excited.”

When the film began many members of the audience applauded and cheered at the sight of Philbrick’s name emblazoned on the screen as the author of the book on which the script was based.

“What an experience to see Nantucket and the ill-fated whalemen of the Essex on the big screen,” said island resident Laurie Richards.

Each member of the audience received a gift bag which included movie poster, a rain poncho, cookies provided Shearwater Excursions and a copy of the novel.

The Dreamland also hosted a screening for its board on December 10 at 10 a.m. offering each board member two tickets.

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