Centered on the sinking of the USS Indianapolis, which had been torpedoed by a Japanese submarine on July 30, 1945 in the Philippine Sea. Of the estimated 900 men who survived the attack, ... See full summary »
Centered on the sinking of the USS Indianapolis, which had been torpedoed by a Japanese submarine on July 30, 1945 in the Philippine Sea. Of the estimated 900 men who survived the attack, only 317 were rescued after four days in shark infested waters. The Discovery Channel describes the event as "the worst shark attack in history." Written by
The actors were actually in shark infested waters. This was achieved by putting the actors in the water and then chumming the waters around them. Safety nets were secured around the life rafts and actors to prevent any accidental contact. See more »
Well structured and delivered docu-drama that avoids melodrama and ham
We all know the basic story here because almost everyone reading this will have seen Jaws and, probably, been drawn to this film for that reason. I do not actually know if I thought the shark attack story in Jaws was real or fictional but I think I knew it was based on real events. Anyway, this film quickly makes reference to Jaws but wisely dwells it on for all of a second before it moves on to focus on the real events after all this is a film about the real thing, not about how the real thing fitted into a popular film.
The decision has been made to play this as a docu-drama, which at times can mean terribly hammy performances that take away from the real people by giving the events an air of stiffness and an unreal feel. Fortunately here this aspect is really well done. The main dialogue delivery occurs in the flat tones of a courtroom so the lack of emotion or depth is not too much of a problem. Out at sea the actors are convincing because of how well shot and realistic it is. I have no idea how they shot this or where but it looked convincing throughout. The narration does the rest of the work and the matter-of-fact discussion of events helped engage me because I was just constantly wondering how anyone survived this whether it be the sharks, the lack of food/water or just the sheer mental anguish caused by the struggle to survive (or rather to keep wanting to want to survive).
The film uses experts and testimony from the survivors well. Sure it could have used the survivors more but the way they cut it worked better in keeping the balance between documentary and the dramatic recreation sequences. The balance does work well then and overall this film informs the viewer while also recreating events in such a way that it avoids ham or melodrama. It is matter-of-factly and all the more engaging for me. An engaging film that does well with the structure and material.
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