Customer Review

37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the Royal Navy's finest hours, 21 Nov 2002
This review is from: Sink The Bismarck! [VHS] (VHS Tape)
SINK THE BISMARCK was produced as a factual account of the epic battle, overlaid with a thin patina of fiction involving a couple of the characters in order to put the events into human perspective. Specifically, Kenneth More stars as Captain Shepard, the new Director of Operations in the Admiralty's War Room, and Dana Wynter as his assistant, Lt. Anne Davis. It's Shepard's enormous bad luck that the German's decide to send the new battleship Bismarck on its first combat sortie (Operation Rheinübung) into the Atlantic during his initial day on the job. And, though Wynter is positively stunning in her "Wren" (WRNS, Women's Royal Naval Service) uniform, the acting, at least in the War Room, shows a distinct British reserve unlikely to elicit more than a tepid "Good show, what" from any viewer. But, after all, the story is principally about the great ships involved, and ships' models don't get considered for Oscars.
As far as it goes, the film's narrative is commendably consistent with the facts surrounding the Bismarck's departure from its home waters, its detection between Iceland and Greenland, the catastrophic destruction of HMS Hood, the pursuit by assorted ships of the Royal Navy, the Bismarck's ultimately fatal crippling by air attack, and the last battle when the Home Fleet finally brought its quarry to bay. However, there were several departures from accuracy as perceived in a recent PBS television presentation concerning deep dives to the wrecks of the Hood and the Bismarck, and other sources:
1. In the film, two British Swordfish torpedo bombers were destroyed by anti-aircraft fire during two attacks on the Bismarck. In fact, none of the planes were lost, a fact I find amazing since the obsolete biplanes appeared so slow that they could have been brought down by well thrown rocks.
2. The film has a destroyer, the HMS Solent, being sunk by the Bismarck late in the pursuit. In fact, no other ship other than the Hood was sunk by the German battleship during the chase. Moreover, I could find no record of such a named ship in other descriptions of the battle where all ships are accounted for.
3. The German fleet commander Admiral Lütjens (Karel Stepanek) aboard the Bismarck is portrayed as an ardent Nazi, who stands in awe when Hitler sends him birthday congratulations. In fact, according to the Admiral's son in the PBS presentation, Lütjens had so little regard for Hitler that he (Lütjens) refused to give him (Hitler) the Nazi salute, but rather the traditional military salute of the German Navy.
SINK THE BISMARCK also gives the false impression that the Bismarck's end was fairly quick. Rather, the last battle lasted for 74 minutes, during which time four heavy British warships pounded their prey with 2,876 shells. Lastly, and most sadly, the film fails to show the roughly 700 German sailors (of the 800 that got off the Bismarck alive) that the Royal Navy left in the water to die. The British ships had to suspend rescue operations prematurely in fear of the German U-boats reported to be in the area. On the other hand, the film does leave the audience with the apparently accurate view that the Bismarck, by then a burning hulk, was sent to the bottom by destroyer-launched surface torpedoes. It's been reported that the ship's commander, Captain Lindemann, had ordered the vessel to be scuttled when its guns were rendered inoperative, and this is what ultimately sent the battleship to the bottom. Video of the hull taken by the submersible sent to the wreck in 2001 supports the contention that the torpedoes inflicted enough damage to do the job with or without Lindemann's help.
SINK THE BISMARCK is an above average depiction of that once-upon-a-time in naval warfare when the big ships could, and did, duel it out with heavy guns within sight of each other. The fact that this film is also the only one that I know of which deals those events of May 1941 certainly doesn't hinder my award of 4 stars. It's worth seeing by World War II buffs.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 8 Jun 2012 11:21:42 BDT
Cambria says:
i agree, on what you say , on reading countless books on the matter, they all agree
that lutgens was anti nazi , and no destroyer, was lost the action in the end you couldnt really let it be drawn out on film, the greatest sadness was (not depicted in the film , well you couldnt really) was that the dorchester stopped to pick up survivors of the bismark , but had to leave after u boat warnings , stranding the survivors .

when the hood blows up if you go slow on the film you may think that you see the seat of the disaster, but again some say the hood was already on fire near the stern

one admiral had deep misgivings about sending the hood out, cos of her faults mainly the armour protection or lack off

Posted on 8 Jun 2012 11:22:16 BDT
Cambria says:
i agree, on what you say , on reading countless books on the matter, they all agree
that lutgens was anti nazi , and no destroyer, was lost the action in the end you couldnt really let it be drawn out on film, the greatest sadness was (not depicted in the film , well you couldnt really) was that the dorchester stopped to pick up survivors of the bismark , but had to leave after u boat warnings , stranding the survivors .

when the hood blows up if you go slow on the film you may think that you see the seat of the disaster, but again some say the hood was already on fire near the stern

one admiral had deep misgivings about sending the hood out, cos of her faults mainly the armour protection or lack off
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3.9 out of 5 stars (37 customer reviews)
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Joseph Haschka
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Location: Glendale, CA USA

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