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In the dark silence of the sea during World War II, the submarine U.S.S. Tiger Shark prowls on what should be a routine rescue mission. But for the shell-shocked crew, trapped together in the sub's narrow corridors and constricted spaces, this is about to become a journey into the sensory delusions, mental deceptions and runaway fear that lurk just below the surface of the ocean and deep inside the human psyche. Written by
The diving officer orders the boat to periscope depth, then adds, "66 feet." On a WW2 fleet boat, minimum periscope depth was 55 feet, optimum was 58 feet, and maximum was 62 feet. At 66 feet the scope would have been 4 feet under the surface. See more »
[hands coordinates to Loomis]
This is almost a day behind us, sir.
Well who are they? Americans, Brits, Italians? It doesn't even say.
Well I think we can assume they're friendly, Mr. Loomis. Besides, it doesn't appear to be a suggestion, does it.
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The only thing in the opening credits is the movie's title. Everything else is only shown after the movie is over. See more »
This was only playing at one cinema in my area (off my usual track) and when I saw it listed in the paper I thought "Wait, how did I miss that?" But it was rated R (always a plus for me; for one thing, an R rating means the F-word gets used at least twice, so it'll have at least that much realism) and I had read somewhere (probably on IMDB) that it was about submarines, so I thought I'd take a crack at it. My venture was well rewarded.
Set during World War II, an American submarine rescues 3 people on a liferaft, one of whom turns out to be a woman, news of which galvanizes the sub's crew, who seem to know every female slang term ("Brillo pad" was new to me). The movie pays tribute to the German "Das Boot," the best submarine flick ever, as the camera goes darting from one passageway to another as the crewmen are introduced. Then some odd things start occurring.
Helping to win me over was the sheer copiousness of period detail with all the 1940s technology used by the crew to run their boat plus their cigarettes, girlie pin-ups, phonograph records, a Yo-Yo, etc. The actors all rang true except for the young idealistic guy. Lots of great claustrophobic atmosphere; limited but effective use of a certain kind of special effect. One needs to pay attention, such as the mirror scene, where you might think "Is that image duplicating what the guy is doing, or not?" Slow but steady heightening of tension and development of otherwordly aspects. Delightful underwater renditions with plankton & manta rays cavorting. Some drawbacks: too much use of flashbacks, some of which may be "false" (Hitchcock used a false flashback once & always regretted it); too much action occurring off-screen, to where it calls attention to itself. There's a central flashback issue that seems to call for an awful lot of expository dialogue, some of which occurs when one would suppose the characters would be engaged with more pressing matters, such as running out of air.
Given how many other recent movies have cost a lot more money, been given much more ballyhoo but have had much weaker plot, characterization and atmosphere, it seems a shame "Below" must rely entirely on word of mouth, or keyboard. I won't claim I was on the "edge of my seat" throughout but I definitely "bought into" the situation. There's a really lovely closing shot, like a shorter & underwater "Koyaanisqatsi," that no one should find overly corny or contrived.
Bottom line: if you can't find this one in a cinema or reach it before it goes away, keep an eye out for video. The studio made a mistake just blowing the movie off, it deserves better.
In one scene we see a seaman with pet fish in a tank, a nice ironic touch.
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