Directed by Francesco De Robertis, the 1942 "Alfa Tau" is the third in a trilogy of "submarine films" made during the war and which had included "Uomini sul fondo" and "La nave bianca." The movie was produced under the auspices of the Italian Naval Film Ministry. De Robertis had had a hand in all three, either as director or in the case of "La nave bianca" as collaborator in a film directed by Roberto Rossellini.
Like the other two, much of the cast consists of Italian submarine personnel themselves. Unlike the other two, this movie doesn't really go "on board" until about an hour into the story, the start of the film being devoted to the shore lives of various characters on leave before their next mission, especially the commander. We also have the background of an Italy in war and under allied bombardment.
The "highlight" of the film occurs near the end when the Italian submarine Enrico Toti sinks a British sub. For what it is, a paean to the daily dedication and bravery of Italian fighting men, it is a well-made docu-drama made to inspire and reassure the Italian populace that all was under control. It was soft propaganda, in other words. At one point we see a sign in the background that reads "Sono fiero di voi." It means "I am proud of you" and represents Mussolini's encouragement to the fighting forces of Fascist Italy.
The title "Alfa Tau" refers to a star in the galaxy, also known as "Aldebaran" and that serves as a symbol of the Navy. "Aldebaran" was also the name of a 1935 Italian film by Alessandro Blasetti that dealt with Navy life.
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