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This movie is another one in a long line of pro-U.S. war films. You know the
kind. Those are the films where north american soldiers are the only ones
capable of any wit, wisdom, intelligence and courage.
Unfortunately, by now the rest of the world is a bit brighter, and we know that, really, Ben Affleck didn't save Great Britain from the Germans. There is an undeniable and deep love and respect for all veterans and U.S. soldiers that lost their lives in Europe during both World Wars from the rest of the world, the kind of respect that only comes from defending an ideal with their lives. It's Hollywood who is keen on destroying those heroes' reputation by making them seem so superior as to be ridiculous.
In summary, this film is a parody of the amazing "Das Boot". It's quite obvious that the same things will happen in any submarine: depth charges, marine battles, etc. But U-571 makes everything seem sweet: there is no claustrophobia, the crew gets along pretty well, they kill every german in sight, and even a destroyer. Das Boot shows a destroyed boat, terribly strained relationships, a sense of quiet desperation and resignation. Where U-571 plays glorious fanfare, Das Boot counters with powerful silence. Where Das Boot puts grime, U-571 substitutes pretty faces. Where Das Boot has realism, U-571 doesn't.
But most insulting of all, where englishmen should have been, U-571 cleverly substitutes them with U.S. soldiers. Oh, the nerve.
Bottom line: this movie makes for a great surround sound demo disc, or a nice coaster. Hollywood is still clueless when it comes to making war movies. If a future historian only had U.S. war movies to base history upon, he would decidedly declare the rest of the world sub-human idiots, and the U.S. civilization as a more evolved race.
A theory Hollywood debunks quite nicely.
Defenders of this film, stop whining that "it's just a movie." Fellow
Americans, stop being so friggin' defensive when people complain about the
pathetic, insipid, insulting posturing we do.
By now anyone who's read anything about this movie knows it was the English and not the Americans who captured the Enigma machine (and also that at the time the story allegedly takes place, the US wasn't even in the war).
But here is the most evil thing about "U-571" -- director Jonathan Mostow in many interviews has complained that the great submarine movie "Das Boot" was a lie because it portrayed the German crew as sailors, soldiers, human beings and not Nazis. This is why he opens his film with the U-boat crew gunning down a lifeboat of helpless, unarmed Allied survivors. Jonathan Mostow perpetuates every lie, every war-time propaganda fabrication, every stereotype ever perpetrated about the enemy. During wartime such propaganda is necessary... but this is sixty years later. No one is in any way excusing the monstrousness of the Nazis. But it is stupid and blind to portray every single German as cut from that same blood-stained cloth. Even English viewers -- who have far, far more reason to hate the Nazis than any American -- have been quick to point out the foulness of Mostow's vision.
This is a review written by a specialist on the U-boat
First off, I am pleased to say my worst fears were not realized. This movie is not a retelling of the capture of the Enigma machine from U-110 with Americans substituted for British. The only thing the historical incident and the movie have in common is that both include an Enigma machine and a U-boat.
The basic premise of the movie is this: It is spring, 1942. (Although not stated explicitly in the movie, this coincides with the implementation of the 4-rotor Enigma machine and the subsequent intelligence blackout which proved quite inconvenient for the Allies.) Allied intelligence learns that a crippled U-boat is awaiting a rendez-vous with a supply submarine. An American World War I S-class submarine and its crew are disguised to resemble that supply submarine, with the goal of boarding the U-boat and seizing the Enigma. Naturally the operation does not go as smoothly as predicted. The American boarding party ends up trapped on the U-boat and must figure out how to get home with their prize.
The special effects, including sound effects, are good, and there are lots of satisfying explosions and interesting underwater camera views. The plot is a bit predictable, and seems to owe a lot to many previous submarine movies, including Das Boot. There are a few technical issues that purists will notice; for example, American S-boats were not actually equipped with radar, an awful lot of bullets were sprayed around the interior of the U-boat without appearing to damage anything vital, and the plan to open the torpedo tubes at a depth of 200 meters seemed ill-advised, to say the least.
One scene was disturbing, however. Early in the film, the U-boat comes upon a lifeboat full of British sailors. The U-boat commander orders his gunner to kill them all, because "The Führer has ordered us not to pick up survivors." It is disappointing to see the myth of U-boats executing occupants of lifeboats perpetuated yet again. The truth about the Laconia order is it did forbid picking up survivors but did not specify that they be shot, simply that they not be rescued or aided as well as the only case on record in World War II in which a U-boat purposely fired on survivors in the water.
In general, this is a good action film. It's no Das Boot, but then I knew it wasn't going to be. For one thing, it lacks the emotional impact and suspense of Das Boot; also, the grim wartime mood that pervaded Das Boot is absent from this movie. In fact, for U-571 the World War II setting seems almost incidental, as the plot could be adjusted easily to fit any other twentieth century war, real or fictional, involving submarines.
In sum, this is not really a World War II movie. It's a submarine movie with nonstop action and plenty of explosions.
29 April, 2000: One more thing which needs to be mentioned. In an interview in the 23 April Washington Post, the director, Jonathan Mostow, states that the movie Das Boot was "based on a lie" because "[...] it pretended that the captains and crews were submariners first, and only incidentally Nazis. They were dedicated Nazis; they had to be to fight that hard."
As anyone familiar with U-boat history knows, this is nonsense. It is well known that the U-boat arm was the least political of any of the German military branches in World War II. While some U-boat men were indeed confirmed Nazis, many were not. Men fight hard in every war, not for reasons of ideology, but for reasons of personal survival and out of a sense of duty and obligation to their group or unit. Mostow's opinion on this particular topic is just that - an opinion, apparently not founded on any knowledge of U-boat history or military psychology
Thank god for the US-Navy. The german U-571 is seriously damaged, so that the full, perfectly trained german crew isn`t able to run it. Of course a hand-full american sailors, who even can`t read the (german) instruments of the different machines in U-571 probably manage to get away with the submarine immediately. After being heavily bombed by a german destroyer, they are even able to reach an absolutely incredible depth. But not enough, of course they send the destroyer to the bottom with only one (coincidentally their last) torpedo. Not only the fact, that this heroic voyage is absolutely implausible and ridiculous, makes U-571 the worst movie I´ve ever seen. Also the story, that the Americans found and decoded the Enigma is just a falsification of history. Of course America did a lot for ending the nazi-tyranny, but in this case, it was the achievement of english sailors and scientists. I´m really not a german nationalist and there were a lot of good and even great movies about WWII ( e.g. Saving Private Ryan) but U-571 isn`t. It´s really a disgusting, poor effort of making money with the most primitive sort of patriotism.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
***May contain Spoilers***
I was embarrassed as an American seeing this film. Just knowing that it would be seen over seas. It's amazing how a submarine can withstand 40 depth charges while another could be put out by two. And I believe it would also be a virtual impossibility for Americans to commandeer a German sub and vice versa.
But the worst thing about this movie is its arrogant rewriting of history. It was the British who first captured the enigma machine NOT the Americans. We have no right to take credit for other nations accomplishments. Hollywood simply has a historical ignorance. But beyond that it is still just an awful, awful movie. No one with half a brain would be entertained by this garbage.
The REAL story behind the films exploits is far more embarasing & not one
that Hollywood is going to tell the great American public.
The British cracked Enigma before the US even entered the War! Admiral Doenitz, suspicious that the UK had cracked the 3 code wheel Enigma (used by the German army), ordered a 4 wheel device & the British no longer were able to decode the U-Boat's messages. Sinkings of convoy vessels went up as a result, until a Royal Navy officer had the bright idea of knocking over a German weather ship in the North Sea & pinching the Enigna (they couldn't decode the messages from this ship so suspected, correctly, that it was a new, 4 wheel device). Code breaking recommenced & the U-Boats suffered such heavy losses that Doenitz eventually recalled them.
In "Operation Drumbeat", where the US, now in the war, had the shipping of it's East coast targeted, the British supplied the US Navy with intercepts, giving the U-Boats locations, courses, speed & intended target areas. Also passed on were suggested tactics for dealing with the U-Boat threat, all learned the hard way & shown to be effective. The US East coast commander, Admiral King, IGNORED them!
A bigoted Anglophobe, Admiral King refused to mount any anti submarine patrols & so condemed thousands of his own countrymen (the people he was supposed to PROTECT) to death. So many ships were sunk the U-Boat commanders called it "The New Happy Times".
Contrast this with Canada, also the target of the U-Boats, where the UK supplied intelligence was used & the anti submarine tactics employed. So few were the sinkings of ships & so heavy the U-Boat losses they were withdrawn to the SAFER waters of the US coast!
Only when Admiral King was finally replaced, after losses to shipping which could no longer be covered up, did effective anti submarine operations begin off the east coast of the US & the menace receded.
One man's obstinacy, stupidity & wrecklessness sacrificed thousands of US lives to satisfy the cravings of his ego. No Hollywood studio is going to dramatise that, so crap like "U571" is churned out. This is even more shocking when you consider that the people who died in this shameful episode still have living relatives.
The film Titanic was bad enough, but this is a step too far.I am appaled to think that if this carries on what the next step might be? How about the US wins the Vietnam War really? The US actually invented pennicillin (it was Dr Flemming, he was born in Darvel, just down the road from me)? The US wins the Battle of Britain?
Hollywood needs a kick up the pants for this film. Sadly most will go & see it & believe it's true. Ignorance is bliss, I suppose, but for the Americans killed & the families bereived, it is not the case.
I have only one comment about the movie and it isn't about its suspense,
direction, acting or musical score. It's about deceit. Reading through
user comments, I see that many are in touch with the idea that this is a
British story, not American. But do they grasp how much more ignorance
People are saying that the supply lines between America and Britain were being threatened by the U-Boats and that America had to come to the rescue. This folks, is simply untrue, revisionist garbage. And people are buying it. It offends me, because as a Canadian, I am painfully aware of the fact that America risked nothing at all to supply Britain in its hour of need - that was Canada's great claim to fame, and America's claim to shame. The British captured the enigma first, the Canadians caught another later and the U.S. WASN'T EVEN IN THE WAR YET!
This is beyond "just entertainment" as Americans are now laying quasi-historical claim (and we all know how many will take some or all of it as true - most) to victories and sacrifices purchased by people of other nations. If you want to spit on someone else's flag, just spit on it, don't steal their histories and dishonor their heroes and their fallen soldiers. Nobody can fall back on "it's just a movie," unless they already feel at home with a British movie about how the Brits won the Battle of Midway and saved the Americans.
Americans have plenty to be proud of, plenty of heroes from that war, plenty of stories they could bring out to show their pride and grit without resorting to such theft.
This movie should have been made as British or not at all. Another sad day for film.
Never have I witnessed such a perverse example of rewriting history. Hollywood producers must ask themselves what they are trying to achieve by inflating American egos in this way? Fabricating history in movies for national glorification is something the Nazis did. Boycott this film. It's crude, it's cheap and it's immoral.
This tripe was perpetuated by a director who has no appreciation for history, and who sets himself up as an authority on "what appeals to American moviegoers..forget for a moment the fact that the British first secured enigma from U-110. Forget also that there was only one incident in which Germans ever machine gunned survivors in the water and that was after the sinking of the Greek ship Peleus by one Heinz Eck, who, along with the ship's doctor and Executive officer were executed for this crime.( I guess we had to believe that the Germans were more sinister this way.) Forget also, that in Mostow's world, the laws of physics do not apply. I especially liked the scene where the torpedo is fired against the bow of the destroyer and the ship is stopped dead in its wake!! If you want a good Submarine movie, try Das Boot, or The Enemy Below. actuals, the incredible Mister limpet was more historically accurate than this garbage.
This is yet another epic film about heroic Americans stepping into a
situation, destroying everything, and creating an unhealthy and
polarized sense of morality (the good Americans kill the evil Germans).
You could label this film racist... perhaps acceptable when the
propaganda was necessary (in the 40's), but certainly not 50 years
after the fact.
The film also fails to capture a good sense of life in one of these submarines... since the film concentrates on military glory and good triumphing over evil, the potentially powerful, subtler moments of suspense are hopelessly lost, and the film degenerates into a muffled confusion of trumpets and excessively justified violence.
It is impossible to watch this without thinking of Das Boot, and how much more powerful the cinematography and directing are, not to mention how much more tolerant and accurate a picture it paints of the morality of warfare and of Germans as real people during the war.
My rating is 2/10 on this film, because it has wasted a potentially powerful concept on mindless and destructive entertainment, questioned Germans as human beings, took millions of dollars to do it, and is essentially a cultural regression from its ancestor Das Boot, made 20 years prior.
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