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Charles Martin Smith
Joseph Vilsmaier's two-part TV movie focuses on the tragic events surrounding the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German passenger ship, at the end of World War II. On 30 January 1945, Captain Hellmuth Kehding was in charge of the ship, evacuating wounded soldiers and civilians trapped by the Red Army. Soon after leaving the harbor of Danzig, it was hit by three torpedoes from the Soviet submarine and sank in less than an hour... Written by
Just as sinking of 'Wilhelm Gustloff' out-do the sinking of better known 'Titanic' in the sheer size of catastrophe, the TV-made "Gustloff" beats Cameron's movie in almost every field. The film starts with life on German east and presents a wide array of characters each facing a dark perspectives flowing from inevitable Reich defeat. The chaos and fear that dominated the eastern Prussian provinces in 1945 is very faithful with historical truth. The film then goes on to showing Gustloff's voyage and chain of events that led German heroes to final fall. Each of characters is memorable: from comic Nazi official who cares only for the evacuation of fuhrer's portrait from sinking ship to stern and cold-blooded commander Harald responsible for navy intel. The romance story is interwoven carefully, without interfering with the main intrigue, and not so naive and pretentious as in 'Titanic', just as mysterious spy plot.
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