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'In The Heart of the Sea'—A Seaman's Integrity

Based on actual events, In The Heart of the Sea is a 2015 recounting of a New England whaling ship's sinking by a colossal white whale in 1820. The disaster would inspire Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. Because the voyage to acquire whale oil was a total failure, there is a pre-inquiry council convened of the business leaders and city elders of Nantucket. Both Captain George Pollard and his first mate Owen Chase are before the Council. Captain Pollard warns his first mate that telling the truth about a whale sinking their ship will have terrible ramifications for the whole industry. "But it is the truth," Chase says.

POLLARD (Stares at a member of the council then says to Chase): 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.

CHASE: So what are you suggesting, George?

COUNCIL MEMBER (interjects): That you say the ship ran aground.

CHASE: That's a lie.

COUNCIL MEMBER: And the men that died drowned.

CHASE: That's another lie.

POLLARD (in earnest to Chase): Think on it. They will make you captain.

CHASE: That pledge I already have in writing.

COUNCIL MEMBER: Only on the condition you bring home a ship full of oil. This way it's guaranteed. 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.

CHASE: You want me to whitewash what happened for profit?

COUNCIL MEMBER: We are asking you to be pragmatic.

CHASE (a long pause then says firmly): The Essex was [sunk] 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. (He turns around and walks out.)

Editor's Note: This scene takes place on the DVD at Chapter 11:1 hour 43 minutes 32 seconds to 1 hour 46 minutes 20 seconds

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