July 31, 2011

Queequeg the Indian?

Encore’s lavish new ‘Moby Dick’:  There whale be blood

By Hank StueverEncore, that glorious waster of weekend afternoons on cable’s desolate seas, has finally decided to show something besides an endless loop of “Dumb and Dumber.” For its first offering, it’s bringing out “Moby Dick,” a lavish, exciting, well-acted and admirably thorough movie adaptation of Herman Melville’s 1851 classic.And:Charlie Cox, a charming British actor, plays a serviceably doe-eyed Ishmael, the young narrator who longs to join a whaling vessel. Arriving in Nantucket (having rescued the young slave Pip from a brutal master), Ishmael winds up on Ahab’s doomed Pequod with his other new friend, Queequeg the Indian, played with revitalized depth by Raoul Trujillo.Comment:  One slight problem with this: Queequeg wasn't an Indian. As Wikipedia notes:Queequeg is a native of a fictional island in the South Pacific Ocean named Kokovoko or Rokovoko. The island is the home to his primitive tribe, who practice cannibalism, in particular devouring the flesh of enemies slain in battle.I don't know if the TV show or writer Stuever made the error. I'm guessing it was Stuever. He saw a savage cannibal and assumed it was an Indian.

On the other hand, the character Tashtego is really an Indian. He's played by Billy Merasty, a Canadian Native, in this movie. Nice of Encore to use two Native actors rather than none.

For more on the subject, see Raoul Trujillo as Queequeg.

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