Even if all written and documentary evidence were to disappear, you could still get a real insight into Britain's involvement in the Second World War through feature films such as Above Us the Waves
(1955) and In Which We Serve
(1942). Directed by Ralph Thomas, Above Us the Waves
tells of a Royal Navy mission to sink the "invincible" German battleship Tirpitz off the Norwegian coast. John Mills is calm and confident as the mission commander, with strong support from John Gregson and Donald Sinden--all treated by the German personnel as fellow gentlemen when captured. Despite stirring music from Arthur Benjamin, the action sequences are visually no more than adequate, and the film is only a partial success compared with the naval and domestic drama of the earlier In Which We Serve
. Noël Coward wrote the screenplay and musical score, co-directed (with David Lean) and gave possibly his finest screen performance as the commander of HMS Torrin. His speech to the survivors of the sunken ship, as they prepare for reassignment, is just the highlight of a film packed with memorable visuals and perceptive dialogue.
On the DVD: Though there are no additional features the black-and-white prints have come up excellently in the 4:3 video aspect ratio. There are 15 access points for each film, though the lack of subtitles is an unfortunate omission. These are period pieces that capture the mood of an era.--Richard Whitehouse
In Which We Serve DVD 1942
Region 2 PAL