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Two Classic War Films
on 10 February 2007
Two very good war films made within three years of each other. One British, the other American.
First things first, Sink The Bismarck is one of those stiff upper lip films exploring the conflict between the Royal Navy and the German Battleship Bismarck which was at that time one of the largest ships ever built. Kenneth More plays Captain Jonathan Shepherd, the director of operations who is given the uneviable task of trapping and the eventual sinking of this great ship. There is a great tragedy along the way with the terrible loss of HMS Hood which was blown up during an engagement with the Bismarck in the Denmarck Strait, only three survivors being picked up. This tragedy made it imeprative that the Bismarck had to be sunk at all costs. It was eventually sunk by numerous British ships off the French Coast. The final scenes showing its destruction are harrowing to watch. Supplemented with actual archive footage, and Ed Murrow playing himself adding a news commentary during certain scenes give the film an almost documentary feel. Alright, some of the ships are plainly models, but that doesnt distract from the film itself. Filmed in widescreen, black and white, with good print and sound. Worth seeing.
The Enemy Below made earlier in 1957 has remained one of those classic war films which is still enjoyable today. Some critics have pointed out that it may be too Hollywood, and not really a true reflection of war as it was at that time. But I did find this a very human drama, played out between two opposing captains, engaged in a cat and mouse chase between an American destroyer commanded by Robert Mitchum and a German Submarine commanded by Curt Jurgens. There is much tension in this film, with decent pace, and a finale where for a time, war is forgotten, and the opposing captains reconcile whilst trying to survive amidst the wreckage of their various vessals. The ending is quite moving as both sides come together to bury, remember and pay tribute to their fallen comrades.
Filmed in colour, widescreen, with decent sound. A very good buy indeed.