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Adaptations of Moby Dick

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Adaptations of Moby-Dick

Moby-Dick is an 1851 novel by Herman Melville that describes the voyage of the whaleship Pequod, led by Captain Ahab, who leads his crew on a hunt for the whale Moby-Dick. There have been a number of adaptations of Moby-Dick in various media.



  • A 1926 silent movie entitled The Sea Beast, starring John Barrymore as a heroic Ahab with a fiancée and an evil brother, loosely based on the novel. Remade as Moby Dick in 1930, a version in which Ahab kills the whale and returns home to the woman he loves (played by Joan Bennett).
  • Moby Dick—Rehearsed, a "play within a play" directed by Orson Welles. A performance of the play was filmed in 1955, but is now considered lost.
  • Moby Dick, a 1956 film directed by John Huston and starring Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab, with screenplay by Ray Bradbury.
  • In 1961 Rocky and His Friends featured the Wailing Whale story arc in which Rocky and Bullwinkle go in search of Maybe Dick, the Wailing Whale.
  • Moby Dick, an unfinished 1971 film featuring readings from the book by Orson Welles. The footage was unedited in Welles' lifetime, but was posthumously compiled in 1999 by the Munich Film Museum.
  • Moby Dick, featuring Jack Aranson as Captain Ahab, was filmed in 1978 and released in November 2005 on DVD. The director was Paul Stanley.
  • The 1984 animated film Samson & Sally: Song of the Whales involves a young white whale named Samson who searches for Moby-Dick after hearing a legend that Moby-Dick would one day return to save all the whales. The sinking of the Pequod is shown as the young whale's mother tells him the story of Moby Dick. The film was alternately titled The Secret of Moby Dick in some other countries.
  • The 1986 animated film Dot and the Whale involves the character Dot embarking on a search for Moby-Dick in hope of helping a beached whale.
  • In 1999, a 25-minute paint-on-glass-animated adaptation was made by the Russian studio Man and Time, directed by Natalya Orlova. [2] It was made for the British market, and so was in English. [3] Rod Steiger was the voice of Captain Ahab. The film came in third place at the 5th Open Russian Festival of Animated Film. It is currently sold on DVD as part of the "World Literary Classics" series.
  • Capitaine Achab, a 2004 French movie directed by Philippe Ramos, with Valérie Crunchant and Frédéric Bonpart.
  • Moby Dick, a 2010 film starring Barry Bostwick as Ahab and made by The Asylum.
  • The 2011 movie, Age of the Dragons, filmed in Provo, Utah features Danny Glover as a mountain-roaming Ahab maimed by fire instead of a peg-leg, in which the great white whale is a white dragon.
  • In the Heart of the Sea, released in 2015, is an American film based on Nathaniel Philbrick's 2000 non-fiction book of the same name, about the sinking of the American whaling ship Essex in 1820, an event that inspired the novel Moby-Dick. Herman Melville appears as a character in the film's frame story, played by Ben Whishaw.
  • Television

  • In 1954, Albert McCleery made a TV movie entitled Moby Dick for Hallmark Hall of Fame anthology series, starring Victor Jory as Captain Ahab, Lamont Johnson as Ishmael, Harvey Stephens as Stubb and Hugh O'Brian as Starbuck.
  • In a 1957 episode of Woody Woodpecker, the bird conspires against the captain with a pink whale named Dopey Dick in "Dopey Dick the Pink Whale". Woody Woodpecker: Dopey Dick the Pink Whale was directed by Paul J. Smith. Woody is shanghaied onto the Peapod by Dapper Denver Dooley to go after the whale that bit him.
  • Tom and Jerry: Dicky Moe was directed by Gene Deitch and released in 1962. The peg-legged but unnamed Ahab-like captain of the Komquot is maniacally obsessed with hunting the great white whale Dicky Moe. When his crew desert, he shanghais Tom and makes him do the work of the whole crew while seamouse Jerry bedevils him. When Dicky Moe is finally sighted, the captain fires a harpoon gun but Tom is holding onto the end of the rope attached to the harpoon and is dragged off the ship. The whale swims off with Tom lashed to its side and the captain screaming, "Come back with my whale!"
  • A 1964 episode of Mr. Magoo saw Ishmael Quincey Magoo hunting the great white whale.
  • A 1964 episode of The Flintstones called "Adobe Dick" saw Fred and the gang encounter the great "whaleasaurus" during a Lodge fishing trip. This episode also mixed in aspects of Mutiny on the Bounty by sailing on the HMS Bountystone commanded by "Captain Blah".
  • In 1967, the Hanna-Barbera series Moby Dick and Mighty Mightor featured the whale in adventures with two boys he had rescued.
  • A 1991 episode of the cartoon series Beetlejuice titled "Moby Richard" had Beetlejuice and Lydia putting on "Disasterpiece Theatre", and deciding to do Moby Dick as their first episode. But Moby "Richard" refuses to change the classic to suit Beetlejuice's notions of what a classic should be, and quits - but not without insulting BJ first. BJ lets the character of Captain Ahab take him over, and leads the others on a dangerous mission through Sandworm Land to get revenge on the whale.
  • A Japanese animated adaptation called Hakugei: Legend of the Moby Dick was produced in 1997. The anime is a sci-fi retelling of the book, with Moby Dick being a whale-shaped sentient spaceship with the power to destroy planets.
  • Moby Dick, a 1998 television movie starring Patrick Stewart as Ahab, won a Golden Globe for Gregory Peck as Father Mapple
  • "The Day The Earth Stood Stupid" is a third-season episode of the series Futurama that first aired on February 18, 2001. Fry and Leela pursue the giant brain through a number of novels including Moby Dick.
  • Moby Dick et le Secret de Mu, a 2005 Luxembourgian/French animated series produced by Benoît Petit.
  • Moby Dick, a 2011 television mini series directed by Mike Barker, starring William Hurt as Ahab and Ethan Hawke as Starbuck.
  • Age of the Dragons is a 2011 made-for-television fantasy film. It was directed by Ryan Little and adapts the Moby-Dick story to a fantasy setting with a white dragon.
  • On the April 29, 2011 broadcast of Phineas and Ferb, in the episode "Belly of the Beast", the boys create a giant mechanical shark for the annual Danville Harbor celebrations. Candace and her friend Stacy join a peg-legged Ahab-like captain aboard his ship The Pea-quad in chasing the giant shark, hurling harpoons made of toilet plungers. When the captain is supposedly devoured by the shark, Candace assumes command and an Ahab-like personality, even paraphrasing Ahab's curse: "From Danville Harbor I stab at thee; for bustings' sake I spit my last spit at thee!". The rope attached to one of the plunger harpoons fired from the cannon gets looped around her ankle and she becomes lashed to the side of the shark in Ahab-fashion.
  • "Möbius Dick" is a sixth-season episode of the series Futurama that first aired on August 4, 2011. Leela becomes obsessed with hunting a four-dimensional space whale.
  • "Ramlak Rising" is a first-season episode of the 2011 ThunderCats series that first aired on August 5, 2011. The captain of a ship obsessively hunts a creature called a Ramlak.
  • The 2014 television film The Whale, written by Terry Cafolla.
  • Radio

  • On August 30, 1946, Orson Welles and the Mercury Summer Theatre broadcast an adaptation starring Welles as Ahab which was based on an audio recording by Decca Records written by Bernard Duffield that starred Charles Laughton as Ahab.
  • On October 19 and 26, 1947, Columbia Workshop broadcast a two-part adaptation starring Neil O'Mally, Sidney Smith, and Charles Irving.
  • On February 4, 1947, NBC's Favorite Story, hosted by Ronald Colman, broadcast a half-hour adaptation starring Howard Duff as Ishmael, Frank Lovejoy as Starbuck and William Conrad as Ahab.
  • Henry Hull starred as Ahab in an adaptation broadcast on the NBC University Theatre on April 10, 1949.
  • The 1949 CBC radio adaptation starred Lorne Greene as Captain Ahab.
  • On November 8, 1953, NBC Star Playhouse broadcast a one-hour production starring Fredric March and Nelson Olmsted.
  • The 2006 BBC Radio 4 broadcast play stars F. Murray Abraham as Ishmael and Fritz Weaver as Captain Ahab.
  • In October 2010, BBC Radio 4's Classic Serial broadcast a new two-part adaptation of the novel by Stef Penney, produced and directed by Kate McAll with specially composed music by Stuart Gordon and starring Garrick Hagon as Ahab, Trevor White as the narrating Ishmael, PJ Brennan as the young Ishmael of the story, Richard Laing as Starbuck and Sani Muliaumaseali'i as Queequeg.
  • Stage

  • Moby Dick—Rehearsed, a "play within a play" directed by Orson Welles. Welles starred in the original London production, while Rod Steiger starred in the original Broadway production.
  • Writer Julian Rad and director Hilary Adams created a bare-stage adaptation of Moby Dick that premiered in New York City in 2003. The Off-Off Broadway "play with music" was nominated for three 2004 Drama Desk Awards: Outstanding Play (Julian Rad, writer/Works Productions, producer), Outstanding Director of a Play (Hilary Adams) and Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play (Michael Berry as Starbuck). Moby Dick was the first Off-Off Broadway production to ever be nominated in the Play and Director categories in the 50-year history of the Drama Desk Award.
  • Moby Dick! The Musical, a 1990s West End musical about a girls' boarding-school production of the classic tale.
  • In the late 1990s, performance artist Laurie Anderson produced the multimedia stage presentation Songs and Stories From Moby Dick. Several songs from this project were included on her 2001 in music CD Life on a String.
  • In 2000, Jim Burke's adaptation of Moby Dick toured the UK aboard Walk-the-Plank's theatre ship, the Fitzcarraldo, in a co-production with Liverpool company Kaboodle. It won Best New Play and Best Fringe Production in the Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards.
  • In 2008, a production of Moby Dick was commissioned by and performed at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival of Canada. The adaptation was written and directed by Morris Panych and was unique, among other things, for being performed on a revolving stage, for stage movement that was more like ballet, and for having no dialogue actually spoken by the cast (all narration/speech was pre-recorded and played over the action) until the very end when Ishmael is rescued by the Rachel; holding Queequeg's little idol close to him, he speaks aloud "Call me Ishmael." The production was performed at the Studio Theater from July 22 to October 18, 2008, and starred David Ferry as Captain Ahab, Shaun Smyth as Ishmael, Eddie Glen as Flask, Marcus Nance as Queequeg and Kelly Grainger, Alison Jantzie, and Lynda Sing as The Sirens/Whale.
  • In 2012, Rindle Eckert created And God Created Whales, an opera that follows an amnesiac who discovers that he had been working on an operatic adaptation of Moby Dick. The show includes segments from this fictional opera played through a recording device. The production featured a simple set and a two-person cast.
  • Composer Jake Heggie composed Moby-Dick for the Dallas Opera's inaugural season in the Winspear Opera House. It premiered on April 30, 2010, with Ben Heppner as Captain Ahab. The opera has since been mounted by the State Opera of South Australia (August 2011), Calgary Opera (January 2012), San Diego Opera (February 2012), San Francisco Opera (October 2012), Washington National Opera (February/March 2014), and Los Angeles Opera (November 2015).
  • David Catlin directed and adapted a musical based on the book. It played at the Arena Stage in Chicago during November and December 2016.
  • As of 2017, Dave Malloy, a composer and writer famous for his adaptations of Beowulf (Beowulf - A Thousand Years of Baggage) and War and Peace (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812), is working on an adaptation of Moby Dick.
  • Music

  • Moby Dick, a cantata for male soloists, chorus and orchestra, written in 1938 by the composer Bernard Herrmann, and dedicated to Charles Ives. Sir John Barbirolli conducted the New York Philharmonic in its premiere.
  • Led Zeppelin's eighth track from the Led Zeppelin II album was also known by other names throughout the years ("Pat's Delight" and "Over the Top") but is best known as carrying the title of the Herman Melville's novel.
  • "Queequeg and I - The Water Is Wide" is a composition included on the 1987 album Whales Alive, a collaboration between Paul Winter and Paul Halley.
  • W. Francis McBeth composed a five-movement suite for wind band named Of Sailors and Whales that is based on scenes from the book Moby-Dick. The bombastic suite begins with the quiet "Ishmael", which builds to a heavy climax. "Queequeg" follows, with a flitting melody and ends with bleak chords and finally a quick note at the end. The middle movement "Father Mapple" is supposed to be a hymn that an imaginary man sings during the voyage. This movement is actually sung by the band, and begins very wearily but has a rather strong ending. The next movement is "Ahab", which readily depicts the captain. The same is true of "The White Whale", the final movement of the suite and by far one of the most fearsome pieces composed for a wind band. Each movement is preceded by some text supposed to be read to give an indication of the movement.
  • Composer Peter Westergaard has composed Moby Dick: Scenes From an Imaginary Opera, an operatic work for five soloists, chorus and chamber orchestra. The work was premiered in October 2004 in Princeton, New Jersey. Its libretto draws on the parts of the novel that deal with Ahab's obsession with the whale.
  • Progressive metal band Mastodon released Leviathan in 2004. The album is loosely based on the Herman Melville novel Moby-Dick.
  • Funeral doom metal group Ahab take their band's name after the captain of the Pequod and draw many of their lyrics from events in the novel Moby-Dick.
  • Composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer wrote the opera Moby-Dick that premiered in 2010.
  • Comics and graphic novels

  • In 1946 Gilberton Publications adapted the story in Classic Comics #5.
  • In 1956 Dell Comics adapted the story in Four Color #717.
  • In 1965 Adventure Comics #332 featured "The Super-Moby Dick of Space" with the Legion of Super-Heroes' Lightning Lad in a role analogous to that of Captain Ahab, after he has to have a robotic arm replace his own due to the Creature making his lightning bolts reflect back at him, and concussion from a crash gives him a more aggressive personality. However, instead of killing the creature he shrinks it down to its original size; it is revealed to be a metal-eating creature that was accidentally grown to gigantic size by a scientist.
  • In 1976 Marvel Comics adapted the story in Marvel Classics Comics #8.
  • In 1977 King Features adapted the story in King Classics #3.
  • A 1990 Classics Illustrated graphic novel by artist Bill Sienkiewicz and writer D. G. Chichester
  • Also in 1990, Pendulum Press adapted the story in issue #1 of Pendulum's Illustrated Stories.
  • A 1998 graphic novel by artist Will Eisner
  • 2000AD's series A.H.A.B. borrows the storyline and the names of several characters from Moby Dick.
  • A French BD from 2005 takes a sci-fi approach similar to Bradbury's, below.
  • In 2008 Marvel Comics released Marvel Illustrated: Moby Dick, a six-issue adaptation.
  • In 2011, Tin House Books released Matt Kish's Moby Dick in Pictures: One Drawing for Every Page.
  • In 2017, Dark Horse published the two-part 2014 Vents d’Ouest hardcover graphic novel by Christophe Chaboute in English.
  • Literature

  • China Miéville's 2012 novel Railsea, set on an ocean of railroad tracks instead of on the sea, has been described as an "affectionate parody" of Moby-Dick.
  • The novel Involution Ocean by Bruce Sterling, published in 1977, features the world Nullaqua where all the atmosphere is contained in a single, miles-deep crater. The story concerns a ship sailing on the ocean of dust at the bottom, which hunts creatures called dustwhales that live beneath the surface. It is a science-fictional pastiche of Moby-Dick.
  • Other

  • Emoji Dick, released in 2013 is an adaptation of the novel using emojis.
  • Speed-talking actor John Moschitta, Jr., as part of his audio tape, Ten Classics in Ten Minutes, read a rapid-fire one-minute summarization of the lengthy novel, concluding with the line: "And everybody dies... but the fish... and Ish."
  • On 5 June 1966, the BBC radio series Round the Horne broadcast a parody of the story entitled Moby Duck ("the great white Peking Duck ... eighty foot long it be with a two hundred foot wingspan and they do say as how when it lays an egg in the China Seas there be tidal waves at Scarborough!") starring Kenneth Horne as the Ishmael-like hero "Ebenezer Cuckpowder" (Kenneth Williams: "This fine stripling with his apple cheeks and his long blond hair, aye and his ... cor', you don't half have to use your imagination!") who is shanghaied in Portsmouth aboard Captain Ahab's ship The Golden Help-Glub-Glub ("the woman who was launching it fell off the rostrum and drowned!"). Kenneth Williams played "Captain Ahab", who after the great duck is sighted has himself stuffed into the harpoon gun and fired at his prey (Betty Marsden: "Oh, congratulations! A direct hit!" Kenneth Horne: "Where?" Betty: "Well, I can't actually say, but if Captain Ahab was an orange ..."). At the end of the story, Kenneth Horne stated that "Hugh Paddick played the part of the duck ... it was the part that most people throw away."
  • In 1973, a simplified version of the novel by Robert James Dixson was published by Regents Pub. Co.
  • The Star Trek franchise has made several references to (and been inspired by) Moby-Dick, most significantly in two films:
  • 1982's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was essentially Moby Dick in space, with Khan taking the Ahab role (the whale and object of his revenge obsession obviously being Admiral Kirk). Khan even quotes Ahab extensively throughout the film, right up to his last lines: "From Hell's heart...I stab at thee! For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee."
  • 1996's Star Trek: First Contact also references the novel, with Picard seeking revenge for the emotional scarring inflicted upon him by the Borg: "And he piled upon the whale's white hump the sum of all the rage and hate felt by his whole race. If his chest had been a cannon, he would have shot his heart upon it."
  • The whale, as well as other references to the book, was featured in an episode of Dexter's Laboratory in 1997.
  • The visionary architect Douglas Darden was greatly inspired by Herman Melville, and circa 1990 designed a work of paper architecture called Melvilla that is meant to be a structural celebration of what Darden regarded as America's greatest novel. The building is sited on the lot in Manhattan where Melville worked on Moby-Dick, utilizes a passage from the novel as a building inscription, and apart from the overall design looking like a whale, the building's design was inspired by ideas, turns of phrase, structures, and passages from the novel. Additionally, Darden utilizes a passage from Chapter 78 on the title image of his only published book Condemned Building.
  • MC Lars' 2006 album The Graduate contains the track "Ahab", in which Lars raps the story of Moby-Dick.
  • In 2004, the heavy metal band Mastodon released Leviathan, a concept album based on Moby-Dick.
  • In 2006 The funeral doom metal band Ahab released an album titled The Call of the Wretched Sea, adapting the novel.
  • The music video for the song "Into the Ocean", from the Foiled album released on April 4, 2006, by the band Blue October, depicts an outdoor theater in which the band plays said song and also acts out a rendition of Moby Dick in which the lead singer, Justin Furstenfeld, plays the part of Captain Ahab.
  • The Demons & Wizards song "Beneath These Waves" is based on Moby-Dick.
  • Leviathan '99 by Ray Bradbury is a direct spin-off of Moby-Dick set in the year 2099. The whale is replaced by a comet, the sailing ship by a space ship, and the character names are either the same or nearly the same. In 1968, BBC Radio 3 broadcast a 90-minute adaptation starring Christopher Lee. A concert version, Leviathan '99: A Drama for the Stage, was performed in 1972, while a novella, Now and Forever: Somewhere a Band is Playing & Leviathan '99, was published in 2007.
  • Philip Jose Farmer wrote a sequel called The Wind Whales of Ishmael, in which Ishmael is transported to the far-future where flying whales are hunted from aircraft.
  • A parody exists in the 2010 Chick-fil-A calendar "Great Works of Cow Literature" in July where the novel is referred to as Mooby Dick.
  • In 2010, the band Glass Wave recorded a song entitled "Moby Dick". The song recounts the story from the perspective of the mariners and of the whale itself after the decimation of the ship.
  • In 2011, the illustrator Seumas Doherty created a redesign of the story as if it were a Scifi video game titled "Moby Dick: A Space Odyssey".
  • In the video game Skies of Arcadia for the Sega Dreamcast, the character Drachma's relationship to the arcwhale Rhaknam is a parallel to the relationship between Captain Ahab and Moby Dick.
  • There are at least two card games based on the novel: Moby Dick, or the Card Game (released in 2013) and Dick: A Card Game Based on the Novel by Herman Melville (released in 2015).
  • An iOS app named OMBY challenges users to unscramble the complete text of Moby-Dick as a series of 10,395 word puzzles.
  • In the 2015 video game Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain there are numerous references to Moby Dick. Some of these include the story arc focusing on revenge and what it can do to a person, a whale on fire, the protagonist being given the codename Ahab, and a mysterious companion called Ishmael shown at the start of the game. The support helicopter responsible for mission support and transportation is codenamed "Pequod". Lastly, when the game's announcement was a viral publicity stunt, they used Moby Dick as a misnomer to mask it
  • In PBS's Between the Lions, a segment called "Moby Duck" Captain Ahab and Captain Starbuck, sailing the PeaPod, hunt the Great White Duck. Each time Ahab thinks he's spotted it, it turns out to be a snail or some other animal. The two never realize that Moby Duck is right behind them.
  • References

    Adaptations of Moby-Dick Wikipedia