Samuel Browne is a tracker in Alaska. When his sister meets a grisly death in San Francisco, he goes there to hunt her killer. As more murders occur, Buckley Clarke, a police investigator, ... See full summary »
Barry Shabaka Henley
The U-20 set was the original U-96 set used in Das Boot (1981). The Type U-19 of World War I and Type VIIC of World War II had similar internal dimensions. See more »
On at least two occasions the captain of the U 20 gives the order to "blow ballast" when he wants to dive the submarine. This order would result in all water being blown out of the ballast tanks and should only be given to surface the boat. In order to dive a submarine one must flood the ballast tanks with water. See more »
Adrian Topol's character name is pronounced Voegele in the German dialogue and is spelled this way in the accompanying English subtitles. However in the credits it is spelled Vogele. Correct German spelling uses either "ö" (o with an umlaut) or else "oe". See more »
The Lusitania was a passenger ship of the Cunard Line, sunk by a German submarine in 1914 with a tremendous loss of life, 1200 crew and civilians of all ages, in the frigid waters of the north Atlantic. It was a big ship -- 800 feet long, about the size of a battleship -- and at 25 knots very fast for its time.
The German government had issued warnings that all British ships were in danger of being fired on because so many were transporting supplies and arms from the US to Britain. The US hadn't yet entered the war and the arms business was booming. But almost everyone, the Royal Navy included, scoffed at the warnings as hogwash.
When the ship is at sea, a scene took place that at first startled me. I was afraid the story would be completely derailed. We're all on the bridge, the captain (Kenneth Cranham) and number one are strutting around in their gold-emblazoned blue uniforms, and the humble helmsman pipes up with, "What course shall we be sailing when we enter submarine waters, captain?" I can't count the number of hours I spent at the helm of a US Coast Guard cutter, but if I or any other helmsman had been so impolitic as to ask a question like that, we'd have been drawn and quartered like William Wallace. Fortunately, the captain at once establishes a return to reality. "And what business is that of yours?", he snaps, shutting the cheeky helmsman up.
The story is carried by the narration of a Scots professor (John Hannah),one of the few survivors. The German U-boat crew is dealt with at some length, and portrayed more as ordinary humans rather than ravening beasts. In the more simple-minded films you can often tell at a glance what view of the enemy will be taken. How mean are they to one another and, especially, how ugly are they? An exception must be made for the brains behind the beef. The leader is often charming, suave, cultivated and fond of good wine and classical music.
The film is far harder on Alfred Vanderbilt (Kevin Otto), a handsome young scion of an American family that built its fortune in the fur trade. He's arrogant and sly. Sounds like a character in the unfortunate "Titanic," as it should. The stories and characters are isomorphic, except that instead of two doomed lovers we have the Scots professor and a young girl and neither of them drowns.
There's also a kind of epilogue. The German U-boat commander, who hesitates briefly before sinking the ship with a single torpedo, is not hailed as a hero back home because it's a propaganda victory for the Allies. He's lucky to keep his rank. The British seize on the event and promote it as evidence of the Hun's barbarity, claiming there were as many as three torpedoes, and using the incident to round up more enlistees. It also influenced America's entry into the war. The US hated all things German after the Lusitania. Sauerkraut became "liberty cabbage" (cf., "freedom fries"), and prohibition was enacted in 1919, which shut down all the breweries like Anheuser-Busch, Blatz, Schlitz, Reingold,and Budweiser.
The acting and direction are competent, although the young girl isn't much of an actress yet. The CGIs are primitive but acceptable for a TV movie. It's really a kind of history lesson, and not a bad one for today's youth.
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