As I've written before, Hollywood has yet to make a decent version of Herman Melville's "Moby Dick." Maybe the problem lies in the whale itself. Any movie about the hunt for a sea beast made after "Jaws" is destined to suffer by comparison and the biggest problem with the versions made before "Jaws" is that most film fans just don't get that John Huston was just one Michael Bay above hackdom.
So let's get rid of the whale and tell the thrilling tale in another way, how's about?
That is the mission that is about to be undertaken by Lynne Ramsey and Rory Kinnear. "Mobius" places the monomaniacal search by a deeply disturbed sea captain for the elusive white whale exactly where it is most likely to be successfully located here in the 21st century: outer space.
Frankly, I think a version of "Moby Dick" that tells the tale of George W. Bush's obsessive Ahab-like search for a way to convince Americans that Saddam Hussein was the most dangerous man in the world would be a much more instructive and potentially Oscar-winning approach, but I guess combining "Jaws" and "Alien" is not entirely without its own possibilities for doing the so-far undoable. Just keep in mind that "Jaws" plus "Alien" may not wind up equaling "Moby Dick" so much it equals something else entirely.
The story that is at present described merely as a spaceship captain consumed by revenge taking his beleaguered crew on an egomaniacal suicide mission to capture and control an alien being is pretty much a watered-downed description of "Moby Dick." Of course, that description could equally apply to "King Kong."
What makes "Moby Dick" in its original literary form likely impossible to ever adapt to film in any way that approaches the greatness of Melville's novel is that the book is far more than a novel. You can brush past the interstitial chapters that gravitate away from the narrative if you must, but what you are left with is essentially "Jaws" or "King Kong." "Moby Dick" derives its greatness from the overall effect and that overall effect is highly dependent on chapters easily dismissed by those merely captivated by the exciting adventure.
Strip "Moby Dick" down to an exciting adventure and you have the all the makings of a screenplay set in space. Subtly add in all the philosophical meandering in the way that science fiction films at their best do so well and what you are left with is…"2001: A Space Odyssey."
And I don't think the current economic ideology at work behind Hollywood is likely to give a still almost-unknown director (especially a female director) the funding to make anything even remotely like "2001: A Space Odyssey."
The title may be "Mobius" but you can almost guarantee that the money men are going to be feeding Ramsay a steady diet of lessons from the Book of Spielberg rather than "Moby Dick."
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