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"The Sinking of the Laconia"
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Reviews & Ratings for
"The Sinking of the Laconia" More at IMDbPro »

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56 out of 57 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant Drama

Author: starzandi from Germany
22 January 2011

I couldn't disagree more with the other review already posted.

I found it a very convincing piece of drama, especially the u-boat scenes were reminiscent of the other great u-boat drama "Das Boot" with the camaraderie on the sub.

The acting, especially from Ken Duken as Hartenstein, was subtle and excellent.There were some brilliantly acted, moving scenes with Brian Cox, Andrew Buchan and Franka Potente. There are some slightly comic scenes that add a bit of life as it is to the drama.

Alan Bleasdale took his story from research in many survivors stories and created his view of the Sinking of the Laconia. It was much more true to the real histories than the majority of war- dramas I know(even " Das Boot" took liberties).

I don't care for the exact badges and stripes on the navy uniforms.Those are minor details(visible only for experts) that don't detract the average viewer from the story.

But careful: this review is for the UK-version of the film only . The German TV-version is different(edit,music, language)!!!

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24 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Not perfect, but pretty close

Author: gchalcraft from Canada
13 November 2011

Complete nonsense about this being anti-American.... the bombing of the submarine while it was clearly displaying a huge Red Cross emblem is not fiction... it happened. If there's anything anti-anybody in the story, then it's also anti-British and anti-Polish while it's clearly pro-German and Italian. However, the Polish guards looking after Italians DID open fire on them while the ship was sinking and they may have been assisted by some British servicemen. Why was there a cowardly British father, a totally unscrupled Irishman, the usual 'oaf' of a British army officer... all standard make-believe that Hollywood has churned out all the time, so it's fair play to portray the Americans as trigger-happy and wet-behind-the-ears... the USA was in its first year of the war, only nine months after Pearl Harbor.

A couple of trivial 'goofs'.... the U-156 was, in reality, a Type XIC Uboat - a better-armed submarine, used for long range patrols, and a lot bigger than the Type VIIC used - but we can't blame anybody for that.... there are no Type XI boats around, while there are a couple of sea-going Type VIIs. A little more attention to detail could have been paid to the uniforms of the British seamen.... and the 'wardrobe' department (if there was one) lost the plot completely with the Sierra Leone personnel.

One other reviewer seems to show disgust at the 'lack of discipline' of the Uboat crew.... oh really? The reviewer has served on submarines? I have - and I found it 100% accurate. Long patrols in a tin-can with 52 other men, under the pressure of war... all kinds of things go on. Do not confuse a lack of reverence for a lack of discipline.

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14 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

When "Titanic" meets "Das Boot"

Author: marco-30-384328
6 November 2011

I thought it was a great show. Especially the German-Submarine-part was well done and reminded strongly on the great TV-show "Das Boot" From time to time I even wondered if they re-used the original "Das Boot" stage from Munich, Germany. I only need to complain that everything went too fast at the beginning. The first part could have been been told more deeply and even be extended into one more episode. I would have loved to see more about the life at the Laconia and the Submarine before the sinking. On the other side: The part of the cowardly father with his two children was a total waste of time and added nothing to the story. Great acting especially from Ken Duken who almost acted convincing like Jürgen Prochnow in "Das Boot". I liked also very much the role of Andrew Buchan and Thomas Kretschmann.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Definitely not anti-American, just true

Author: helenandbrian from Hove, England
14 September 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The film did get overly sentimental at times and there were some unnecessary plot digressions that served only as filler, but overall, a moving portrayal of actual events.

When the American bomber goes in and bombs a submarine crowded with people on deck and displaying a large red cross, that is an accurate retelling of what actually happened. Similarly, a despicable Nazi U-Boat commander actually did turn out to be a caring man who disobeyed orders and jeopardised his own safety to rescue all those survivors of a boat that he had targeted legitimately. Just as in real life, he was eventually forced to abandon them to their fate because he was attacked by the Americans. Several other U-Boats did also join in the operation.

In reality, around half the survivors eventually died before they eventually reached safety.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

I enjoyed it.

Author: wbc7216 from United States
19 July 2012

Just happen to watch this movie about 2 months ago. I really enjoyed it, I didn't think for one second it was anti American. In the movie the scene people are referring to they were given direct orders to bomb, they reported what they saw. But in general I thought it was a great TV movie. People take stuff so serious. Just relax and take in the show. I'm starting to really enjoy international movies, to me just more depth. It's nice to see at war time what went on behind the scenes in other countries. Germany could have easily said screw those people but they showed compassion. Just think the world was at War, they stopped what they were doing and helped the enemy.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Great drama and true to history

Author: jbeckj from Copenhagen, Denmark
20 May 2013

Over time many movies have pictured how the German Navy and Army conducted themselves in WWII. I don't write Nazies, because that is a political party and in general the Germans fought for their country. That being said, all sides of the war had their share of murders. If you think the allies never did anything wrong, you are very naive.

The submarine part of the German navy was led by Donitz and banned any political propaganda from the sub pens and submarines.

Its very known that if British and German submarines would meet, they would greet each other and part, due to respect for each others profession.

The movie itself shows the balance between being humane and full fill your obligations as a submariner.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Thank you for this movie!

Author: misonafashion from slovenia
22 April 2013

This documentary - drama was a great thing to show to the main public. The idea of being noble and humane in the midst of a war is quite unusual and it should have been stressed out more in order to make humans aware in such a way. This kind of situations are extraordinary, and they happen only occasionally, under special circumstances. I hope more movies would be made in such honorable manners to encourage people of this planet to be just like this or better. The media has this power, and I wish it was used more in this way! Thank you for making this movie, I'd rate it min. 7,5 if I was asked. And all this nationality preferences and it's discredits are just what the war is all about, I sincerely hope we soon become what we pretend to be. Big respect for the captain and I hope we aspire to such deeds!

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0 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Abominable attempt of clearing German conscience and offending Poles, Jewish and other victims

Author: rationalists from bloodlands from Bloodlands
1 February 2014

1. The movie focuses on one of a few moments when Germans and Italians could claim moral superiority over Allies during the IIWW. What the movie makers forget and do not show on purpose is why the "heroic" Uboot commander is hunting British merchant ship. He is hunting it in name of no less than Adolf Hitler. The "heroic" crew of Uboot witnessed treatment of (mostly Polish) slaves in Germany and in French ports, with high probability they enjoyed the services of sexual slaves (in 1939-1941 mostly French and Polish) in Kriegsmarine brothels, they used goods stolen from Jews and Poles etc.

2. The villains of the movie are Polish soldiers, who escort Italians. Again it remains unclear where those people come from. It is simple: after fighting in Poland, they left Poland, via Hungary got to France to fight Germans, then some of them fought in Narvik (as a Polish unit), got back to Britain and went to Africa to fight Rommel. Their families got executed and enslaved (Germans executed 15 000 Poles in one place called Piasnica in 1939-40 to name an example). Their sons got sent as slaves to Germany (approx 2 million Polish slaves), their daughters raped. They could nourish certain hate against Axis soldiers.

3.It remains to wait for a movie about Sonderkommando Jewish prisoners, Russian kapos in KZ and heroic SS-men who protect KZ-prisoners from them. There could be one such case - so the movie will be based on facts.It is all about choosing which facts are to be depicted.

4. To put it short: it is an abominable dance on graves because not a minute is devoted to the context of the story.

5. The captain of Laconia deserves certain respect but he fought for Nazi Deutschland. Polish, Belorussian, Russian peasants who risked their lives as guerilla fighters had more courage than this idealized Uboot captain. They knew their survival chances were non-existent but they refused to comply.

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2 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

A total Shipwreck!

Author: guard_jamie from United Kingdom
21 January 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was very much looking forward to this, as the adverts for it suggested that it could be an excellent little historical drama, the like of which the BBC regularly produce.

I could not have been more wrong.

I'm aware that such productions are always subject to budget constraints, but the CGI-effects were distinctly dodgy - I was very much aware that they were CGI. The clothing worn by the cast was another severe let down. It was often too pristine, in some cases ill-fitting, and occasionally utterly unauthentic for the 1940s. The greatest issue with the production however lay in the script and the acting. The acting was often wooden, and unbelievable. The script was clunky, and too 'modern' in language and attitudes held by the protagonists - the production I saw did not feel like it was portraying the 1940s. The script also suffered for concentrating on too many characters, which resulted in my not being emotionally engaged and actually caring whether they survived the sinking or not (this wasn't helped by very few of them being played as particularly pleasant people). Another particular problem was the number of simply unbelievable events that are shown throughout the film - the 'crossing the equator' scene in the U-Boat suggests a SERIOUS lack of discipline aboard, and the pep-talk by one of the U-Boat officers to the victim of the crew's bullying about being a team-player is very 21st century. The cringe-worthy performance of 'home on the range' or some such western song by the awkward British officer was very odd, and did not feel very 1940s at all - and I did find myself wondering where he got the costume from on a boat in the middle of a war? The portrayal of the Polish troops as nothing but violent thugs was a gross misrepresentation and offensive.

All in all, I was severely disappointed, feeling that the bravery and sacrifice shown on both sides during the real sinking of the SS Laconia was totally ignored for an over-dramatic, literally unbelievable piece of hokum that looked and felt like it was a poorly-written 21st century take on one of the saddest story's of the war.

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3 out of 51 people found the following review useful:

Good drama but anti-American

Author: vikpk from United States
14 February 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I will not focus on the qualities of this movie -- just on its unfair anti-American sentiment. It is done in the better tradition of the European cinema. However, I cannot but underrate it for its anti- American sentiments. It shows the Americans trigger-happy backward country bumpkins at the backdrop of the sophisticated moral issues the German skipper of the U-Boat and his British counter parts struggle with. The movie successfully shows the human suffering at war. Yet it seems to me quite preachy at times (the words of the skipper of the Laconia before it sinks, for example.) It is blowing out of proportion the supposedly kind act by the Nazi U-Boat captain. The flat, one-sided portrayal of the Americans came not to show that war can produce stupid mistakes but to juxtapose the Germans and British against the Americans. Let us not forget that this one act of kindness by a German U-boat captain has to be measured against the tons of reckless torpedoing of passenger ships by German submarines during the blockade of the UK in WW2.

It was also unrealistic how the US bomber approached the U-boat dropped five bombs the all of a sudden, without sinking the submarine, the chief pilot said "Mission accomplished" and they flew back (supposedly low on fuel). Not sure how true to the historical fact this is but it is proper to remind the British and German directors that regardless of all the Nazi-British comradery shown in the film the actual goal of the 3rd Reich was to subject all nations to its ideological and military superiority. This does become clear to an extent in the film but the attempt to water down the historical role of the various parties in the war diminishes the film's potential.

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