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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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60 out of 61 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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30 out of 32 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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15 out of 17 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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8 out of 8 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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7 out of 7 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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8 out of 9 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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3 out of 3 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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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Excellent production about an unknown bit of WW2 history

Author: gordonl56 from Canada
22 June 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


This film was released as a two part mini-series in 2011. The film is about the sinking of the RMS Laconia by a German U-boat during World War Two. The film tells the story from several different points of view. The RMS Laconia was a Cunard passenger liner being used by the Royal Navy as a troopship. On 12 September, 1942, the ship was torpedoed 600 miles off the West African coast by U-156. The ship was carrying 80 civilians, 268 British troops, 160 Polish soldiers and 1800 Italian prisoners of war.

The U-boat, surfaced after the attack and finding women, children and Italian POWS, began rescue operations. U-156 was soon swarming with survivors. The submarine took lifeboats in tow when room ran out on board the U-boat. The U-boat radioed headquarters for help in the rescue.

Several other submarines, including an Italian one joined the rescue. Several Vichy French ships also joined. The rescue mission was interrupted by a bombing run made by an American B-24.

Quite a few of the survivors were transferred to the Vichy ships and landed in Casablanca. (They were soon free after the Allied invasion of North Africa in November 1942. The British officers were kept on board the U-boasts and landed in France as POW's.

The film follows several of the ships passengers, ship's officers, Italian POW's and the officers and men of the U-boat. The cast includes, Brian Cox, Franka Potente, Ken Duken, Morven Christie, Andrew Buchan, Lindsay Duncan and Thomas Kretschmann.

Franka Potente is a German who has escaped from Germany and was making her way to England. Brian Cox is the Captain of the Laconia, Ken Duken is U-156's Captain, Thomas Kretschmann plays German Admiral, Donitz. Andrew Buchan is one of the Laconia officers in charge of the Italian POWS.

The various characters are shown as the ship sinks and some are rescued. Others end up sailing for the coast of Africa. (which several lifeboats reached) The Germans for once are not shown as blood thirsty madmen.

Well worth a watch if you are looking for something a bit different. The mini-series was a co-production between the BBC and German Television. The director was Uwe Janson and the story was supplied by Alan Bleasdale.

The Laconia was the second Cunard liner of that name. The first was sunk by a U-boat in World War One. This WW2 incident caused German Admiral Donitz to issue the LACONIA DIRECTIVE. This was a general order for U-boats not to stop to pick up survivors.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

interesting true story

Author: SnoopyStyle
18 January 2016

It's 1942. Old British cruise liner Laconia captained by Sharp (Brian Cox) is transporting 1800 Italian prisoners to Liverpool. They are guarded by cruel Polish guards. There are many civilians including mysterious Hilda Smith (Franka Potente) with a baby who is befriended by Third officer Mortimer. They are torpedoed by a German U-boat whose captain Hartenstein decides to rescue the survivors risking his own boat. As more ships and U-boats join in the rescue, an American plane from Ascension attack.

This is a little-known much-ignored story from WWII. It is an interesting story but the movie is too scattered and too long. I imagine this would be a great U-boat story in the vein of Das Boot. A three hour mini-series is too long and the movie has relatively low tension. Also the movie makes the American bombing a mistake by a young crew rather than a deliberate action. This seems like an excuse more than a realistic assessment.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Wasted Potential

Author: valentin-schubert from Germany
9 February 2015

First of all, I'm German and I want to leave out all the stuff about whether it is anti-American or not, because the bombing of the U-Boat Is a fact and the point brought up by some here that it's a movie to ease German conscious is bullshit. Let's just talk about the movie. First problem; it's too long. The arc of suspense is terrible. Next problem: at some points it just tries too hard to be Titanic. Biggest Problem: it's a serious movie, or at least wants to be and should be. But they put two cartoonish, annoying, cliché characters in this movie, which made me hit my head against the wall every time they appeared. I don't care for the fate of a character I hate. The egoistic father, and The "British lady". The fur coat wearing Lady is a walking cliché and by asking every five minutes in the second half where her daughter is and how hard life is she tries to force empathy. But no, she's just not a real person. Nobody on earth would behave like this and if somebody did, everybody would hate her. The leading roles of Ken Duken and Franka Potente are well performed. The general look of the movie is good. But the second half just lacks tension. At some points a solid movie, at some points horrible.

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