The Potential Danger Of Cold War Conflict Will Be Recognized By A Good Many Viewers Of This Effectively Produced Soviet Film.
Toward the end of the Cold War period, a spate of Soviet Russian books, and some films as well, were exported to the United States, as an attempt to make the Russian Communist system of government increasingly accessible to Americans, and this affair is one of the better products of the time, a wide screen item that was very well-received within the U.S.S.R. during 1982, as over 33 million people viewed it there. Its popularity, despite few plot surprises, and a dearth of convincing characters, is derived from the work's blend of quotidian military life with an extensive display of the latest Soviet armed forces technology, all intensified by serviceable direction and playing. The film opens with Soviet military personnel parting from their families as they leave for a routine training mission that promises little action, followed by scenes of the men's wives discussing the career directions of their husbands, who are assigned to a combination naval air/sea squadron, Soon after embarkation, the squadron flagship receives a radioed distress message from an American nuclear powered submarine and responds by deploying a squadron salvage plane as an offer of assistance to the submarine's location. The U.S. sub is holding a guilty secret: a nuclear payload consisting of numerous cruise-type missiles directed at the U.S.S.R., and the salvage plane crew is prevented by force of arms from boarding the vessel, as ordered by the submarine commander. This worthy, in response to an inquiry from the Soviet admiral, discloses that a computer malfunction has resulted in an unplanned launching of two missiles targeted at the U.S.S.R. mainland, a disastrous event that will undoubtedly be the cause of World War III. The computer breakdown was directly caused by an American submariner who, while attempting to repair the craft's mechanical problem, was exposed to an excessive dosage of radiation, ostensibly losing his mind as a result, and purposefully sabotaging the sub's control system, thereby requiring that an emergency command decision be made by the opposing skippers, one that we will expect to favour a course in line with the production's established Soviet bias, while being simultaneously acceptable to the Americans. Director of photography Boris Bondarenko creates each of his compositions for this military melodrama with skill while director Mikhail Tumanishvili devises action episodes that advance a mood of suspense for a viewer, particularly those scenes that depict aircraft maneuvering as the rescue attempt is imminent. The film's audio track is in Russian, with English subtitles, and a Slavic viewer who is paying heed will perceive that some Baltic nation dialects are also employed. When speaking in English (dubbed), subtitles of that language are used as well, due to utilization of a Russian language voice-over that is distracting until one learns to accept this systemization. It shall be noted that, although the picture's theme is of a U.S.S.R. naval squadron going to the aid of a crippled United States submarine, the film's primary plot elements deal with the squadron's air support arm. This is decidedly a Soviet coloured late stage Cold War propagandistic piece, with a slightly muddled narrative, yet viewer interest will be heightened through the production's development of suspense that predominates over its cardinal motif. On display is the magnanimity of the Soviets as opposed to U.S. authoritarianism, a turning of the coin from American films of the same era and genre.
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