Almost 100 years ago, on November 20th 1820, tragedy struck the New England whaling ship ‘Essex’ as it was attacked and sunk by a monster—a white whale of singular size and intent the likes of which had never been seen before. This real-life maritime disaster would inspire Herman Melville’s epic novel, Moby Dick and nearly 150 years later would be chronicled again by Nathaniel Philbrick in his bestselling book In the Heart of the SeaThe Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex.

Director Ron Howard has adapted Philbrick’s dramatic tale for the big screen with In the Heart of the Sea, which will be released in Ireland on St. Stephen’s Day. Chris Hemsworth leads the cast as the vessel’s veteran first mate, Owen Chase. The film also stars renowned Irish actors Brendan Gleeson as elder Tom Nickerson and Cillian Murphy as second mate Matthew Joy and features up – and – coming Irish actor Sam Keeley.

In the winter of 1820, the New England whaling ship Essex was assaulted by something no one could believe: a whale of mammoth size and will, and an almost human sense of vengeance.  The real-life maritime disaster would inspire Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick.  But that told only half the story.  “In the Heart of the Sea” reveals the encounter’s harrowing aftermath, as the ship’s surviving crew is pushed to their limits and forced to do the unthinkable to stay alive.  Braving storms, starvation, panic and despair, the men will call into question their deepest beliefs, from the value of their lives to the morality of their trade.

In the Heart of the Sea also stars Benjamin Walker (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) as its inexperienced Captain, George Pollard, and Ben Whishaw (Spectre) as novelist Herman Melville, whose inquiries into the event three decades later helped bring the story to light.  Tom Holland (The Impossible) also stars as young seaman Tom Nickerson.

Howard directed the film from a screenplay by Charles Leavitt (Blood Diamond), story by Charles Leavitt and Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (Jurassic World), based on the book In the Heart of the SeaThe Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick, winner of the 2000 National Book Award for Nonfiction.

The film was produced by Joe Roth (Oz the Great and Powerful), Paula Weinstein (Blood Diamond), Will Ward, Oscar winner Brian Grazer (A Beautiful Mind) and Ron Howard.  The executive producers are Bruce Berman, Sarah Bradshaw, Palak Patel, Erica Huggins and David Bergstein, with William M. Connor serving as co-producer.

The behind-the-scenes creative team included Oscar-winning director of photography Anthony Dod Mantle (Slumdog Millionaire); production designer Mark Tildesley (The Fifth Estate); Oscar-winning editors Mike Hill and Dan Hanley (Apollo 13); costume designer Julian Day (Rush) and composer Roque Baños (Evil Dead).

In the Heart of the Sea will be distributed in 2D and 3D, by Warner Bros. Pictures on December 26th.

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