Major Hollywood Movie, Documentary Connects Past to Present

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Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument has a close connection to the soon-to-open Hollywood movie “In the Heart of the Sea.”

The film is the prequel to PMNM’s own “Lightning Strikes Twice,” a short documentary telling the tale of what happens next.

On Wednesday night, PMNM held a screening of the Warner Bros. movie, directed by Academy Award-winner Ron Howard, starring Chris Hemsworth, preceded by “Lightning Strikes Twice.”

“In the Heart of the Sea” tells the story of true events that inspired Herman Melville’s novel “Moby Dick.” The whaleship Essex, captained by George Pollard, Jr., was rammed and sunk by a sperm whale in 1820. The crew was left adrift for more than 90 days in three life boats. The crew pushed their limit through storms, starvation, panic, and despair to stay alive. Captain Pollard was one of the few survivors who returned to Nantucket.


Author Nathaniel Philbrick, who wrote the New York Times bestseller “In the Heart of the Sea,” is featured in PMNM’s documentary.

“Lightning Strikes Twice” is the real-life sequel to “In the Heart of the Sea” and continues the story. Captain Pollard was given command of another whaleship, the Two Brothers, and set sail for the Pacific again. Following the old adage that lighning never strikes in the same place twice, Captain Pollard was off.

On Feb. 11, 1823, The Two Brothers struck a reef and rested on what is now the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.


In 2008, the wrecksite of the The Two Brothers was discovered by NOAA maritime archaeologists and was positively identified after two-and-a-half years of research.

“Lightning Strikes Twice,” produced by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries for PMNM, depicts the Two Brothers’ saga and the research surrounding its discovery.”

“Film is an incredibly powerful way to share stories of exploration and discovery in remote places like Papahānaumokuākea,” said PMNM Maritime Archaeologist Dr. Kelly Keogh. “The movie ‘Lightning Strikes Twice’ has helped the story of The Two Brothers come alive to hundreds of viewers. And now, with the release of ‘In the Heart of the Sea,’ we will be able to reach many more people.”


A total of 200 individuals attended the Wednesday night viewing.

“We are grateful to Warner Bros. for the opportunity to make this special connection with their film,” said Athline Clark, PMNM Superintendent for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. “These two films are a reminder of the history of whaling in the Pacific and its impacts upon the Hawaiian archipelago. These stories connect our past to our future and highlight the connection from one part of the world to another.”

PMNM’s short documentary film “Lightning Strikes Twice,” which provides additional historical context to the story of the Essex tragedy, will be included as a special feature on the DVD release of Warner Bros. “In the Heart of the Sea” in early 2016, and can also be viewed online at the link below.

“Watching the two films together is a great window into the maritime heritage of our region,” said Keogh.

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