Thursday, August 12, 2010

It's not just loose lips

Not having done a "real" post on a movie in some time, I note that the Fox Movie Channel is airing Sink the Bismarck! at 6:00 AM ET tomorrow morning.

The movie tells, with some embellishments, the World War II story of the Nazi German battleship Bismarck, and the British Navy's desperate attempts to find the ship on the open sea and sink it. Kenneth More stars as Cpt. Shepard, the no-nonsense head of naval operations back in London, whose job it is to head the operation, and it's not an easy job. There's a lot of ocean out there, and several different straits the Bismarck could pass through on its way from port in the Baltic to the Atlantic Ocean. Worse, this was thought the biggest and most powerful battleship known to date, and the British don't have enough ships, and certainly not the right kind of ships, to deal with the Bismarck. Indeed, one of the ships was so fresh out of port that it still had some of the civilian shipbuilders still on board! We see the negative effects of this when a British cruiser engages with the Nazi battleship and promptly gets sunk.

What's a commander to do? Bring more ships into action seems the least bad option, so ships are called in from the Mediterranean. The only problem is, Shepard's son is a gunner on an aircraft on one of the carriers that gets called northward, so Shepard is putting his own son into harm's way. He also lost his wife in an air raid, as if we need more emotional manipulation. Still, Shepard is supremely emotionless, making life tough for everybody back at HQ, who had grown accustomed to the previous commander, who thought that allowing some casualness would be good for morale.

At any rate, the ships head north from the Mediterranean, and since this is a movie based on a true story, we know how it's going to end. The Bismarck isn't quite as fearsome as originally thought, and more capable British ships should eventually be able to destroy it. With a movie like Sink the Bismarck!, however, more important than the acting or the story is the portrayal of the battle scenes, and they're fairly well done here, at least looking at them cinematically. (I'm not an expert on naval warfare.)

Sink the Bismarck! is well worth watching, and has been released to DVD, too.

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