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Jean Mudge Productions: Films, Videos & Books About Historic America



Herman MelvillePoet Richard Wilbur appears at the ocean’s edge to lead us into Melville’s mind, “immersed in the sea,” as he once said. Youthful whaling experiences in the South Seas marked his consciousness forever. From islands in the South Pacific to New York to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the film traces his steps as he leaves shipboard life to fictionalize his adventures, finds fame, then disrepute, and soon after the Civil War, turns to writing poetry. Dramatized excerpts of Moby Dick and Billy Budd, both stories set at sea, contrast with the landlocked Bartleby the Scrivener. Throughout, the film weighs the virtues of the sea versus the land. The question lies at the base of Melville’s inner “at seaness.” But it’s the infinite, indefinite freedom of the sea that wins his final allegiance (30 min.).


— With poet Richard Wilbur
— Producer, Project Director & Writer – Jean Mudge
— Director – Chuck Olin
STUDY GUIDE for this film
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