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K-19 : The Widowmaker [DVD] [2002]

61 customer reviews

Price: £3.14 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Harrison Ford|Liam Neeson
  • Directors: Kathryn Bigelow
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English, Russian
  • Subtitles: Dutch, French
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 19 May 2003
  • Run Time: 132 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00006FMG6
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 14,200 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

During the Cold War, Russian captain Alexei Vostrikov takes the nuclear sub K-19 on her first patrol. But problems arise that may l ead to a meltdown that will kill all aboard, and possibly trigger nuclear war, forcing Vostrikov to choose between orders and his me n's lives. Inspired by a true story.

From Amazon.co.uk

An intense dramatisation of a long-suppressed Cold War anecdote, K-19: The Widowmaker is the first big Hollywood film to view the conflict through a Soviet periscope, casting Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson (with slight accents) as patriotic Russians.

In 1961, as NATO deploys long-range nuclear attack submarines, the Kremlin forces the Russian Navy to follow suit, whether they're ready or not. Ford takes over from popular skipper Neeson in command of the eponymous submarine, riding the men hard through a missile test, and then coping with an escalating series of crises as a jerry-built reactor threatens to melt down (and perhaps start World War III).

Though the political specifics are fresh, this has all the expected elements of a sub movie, citing everything from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Das Boot to Crimson Tide and The Caine Mutiny as sailors bristle mutinously under a marine martinet. This, along with inept engineering and ideological interference, prompts disaster.

Director Kathryn Bigelow, the most undervalued talent in Hollywood, is in her element with heroic men under pressure, and a terrific central stretch has comrades trying to fix the reactor even though they've been given the wrong protective gear and start coming down with radiation sickness as they work. Less successful is a superfluous epilogue that pulls the old Spielberg present-day-reunion-of-the-aged-survivors-at-a-gravesite gambit. --Kim Newman

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By ab..c VINE VOICE on 19 May 2003
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a well crafted, true story and Exposition of the cold war submariners' duties. The unusual thing is that the Russians are depicted as the good guys. The editing, as signified by the pace of the film is superbly done. The claustrophobic aspects of the ship could have been boring but it was not the case. The two captains are shown as mutually distrusting at first but under duress begin to see the others point of view under the weight of an unreliable and dangerous vessel. The 'rights and wrongs' of politics are left aside and the crews lives are shown during this catastrophic failure. Both Alice and I enjoyed this film. It was shown to a Russian audience of Sea fairer and had mixed reviews. One reason was the lack of understanding in the script of the importance of 'heavy water' as a moderator in the nuclear reactor and why ordinary water would not work as well.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By lexo1941 on 3 Aug. 2007
Format: DVD
K-19 may be historically inaccurate, but show me a military movie that isn't. This film is way more true to life than the idiotic fantasy that was U-571, in which Americans won the second world war by capturing a cipher machine (FYI, it was a British crew who captured the machine and anyway the Brits already had one, reverse-engineered by Polish intelligence and given to them in one of the more stunningly generous acts of wartime cooperation).

The important thing is not so much how doggedly authentic the story is. After all, Wolfgang Petersen's classic 'Das Boot', surely the ultimate sub movie ever in its original miniseries form, is fictional. What matters is the quality of the story, and the story told here in K-19 is profoundly touching. Harrison Ford seems really engaged for the first time in a long time, Liam Neeson is properly cast for a change as a slightly ambiguous figure (instead of just as a nice guy) and Peter Sarsgaard is heartbreaking as the head of the team that attempts to repair K-19's reactor.

Kathryn Bigelow's films have veered between genuinely eerie (Near Dark, The Loveless), silly (Point Break, Blue Steel) and romantic but a bit daft (Strange Days). For my money, this is the first movie she's made that her fans don't have to apologise for. So who cares that the crew all have silly Russian accents? Like you'd prefer that Harrison Ford sounded American and Liam Neeson sounded like he was from Ballymena? The sadness and grimness of life in the USSR have not generally been paid attention to by US filmmakers, who for the most part portrayed Soviets as cannon fodder, but this is a brave effort and a gripping and affecting movie.
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Format: DVD
I liked this solid, well made submarine thriller, describing a tragedy which really happened. Below, more of my impressions with limited SPOILERS.

Made in 2002, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, this film tells a true story. "K-19" was a real Soviet nuclear-powered submarine, the first of eight units of Project 658 known to NATO as Hotel-class, commissioned in November 1960. This was the first Soviet submarine to be in the same time nuclear powered AND armed with ballistic missiles. On 4 July 1961, when conducting exercises near southern Groenland, "K-19" developed a major leak in her reactor coolant system. The reactor temperature rose uncontrollably, threatening to cause a meltdown, which would result in the loss of the ship and the crew. This film tells the story of the accident itself and of everything what happened later...

Kathryn Bigelow tried to stick to the real story as much as she could, but there are of course some differences, one of the most important being the nickname of "K-19", which in reality after 1961 was "Hiroshima" - it was NEVER called "widowmaker" by Soviet sailors. There are also some other, rather minor differences, but I can not detail them more without giving too much spoilers about the plot...

This is a very masculine film, with an exclusively masculine cast and both main stars - Harrison Ford as the skipper, Captain Vostrikov and Liam Neeson as the Executive Officer, Captain Polenin - are excellent, as usual. With the exception of Christian Camaro ("Dexter", "Twilight" saga) and Peter Sarsgaard ("The Skeleton Key", "Flightplan") most of other actors were completely unknown to me, but they all did well too.

Kathryn Bigelow has a kind of special touch which makes her films feel and look REAL - and it is also visible in that one.
Read more ›
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. S. Hardman VINE VOICE on 29 Nov. 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson wouldn't be the obvious first choices to play Soviet submariners, but despite this they both do a reasonable (but not great) job in this "inspired by a true story" movie about a nuclear submarine in trouble at the height of the cold war. I have no idea how close to the true story the film is, and it doesn't have the gritty, atmospheric quality of "Das Boot", but it is a watchable film. Is it the best cold-war related film I've seen even in the last few weeks? Is it the best submarine-related film I've seen? The answer to both is a definite no, but it's still worth a viewing. Just don't approach it with huge expectations - to me it felt like standard, run-of-the-mill stuff, lead actors doing adequate rather than great performances, made more obvious by unimaginative editing.
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