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In the early years of the 20th Century, two British yachtsmen (Michael York and Simon MacCorkindale) stumble upon a German plot to invade the east coast of England in a flotilla of specially designed barges. They set out to thwart this terrible scheme, but must outwit not only the cream of the German Navy, but the feared Kaiser Wilhelm himself.Written by
Jonathon Dabell <J.D.@pixie.ntu.ac.uk>
Relaxed and beautifully shot adaptation of a classic novel.
In 1901 English amateur yachtsman Arthur Davies is exploring a chain of islands off the German coast, attempting to update navigation charts for the area in which treacherous sandbanks abound. He becomes suspicious of a mysterious German called Dollmann, who apparently is running a salvage operation on one of the islands, and does not welcome Davies' interest in his activities. Davies summons the help of his friend Charles Carruthers, who works in the Foreign Office, to get to the bottom of the curious goings on.
This is an admirable attempt to film Erskine Childers classic novel. It manages to combine the laid back feel of amateur yachting with an intriguing mystery. Simon McCorkindale and Michael York blend together very well as the two English gentlemen turned amateur sleuths. They are complimented by the excellent and much missed Alan Badel as the sinister Dollmann, and Jenny Agutter as his daughter Clara. Much of the film's appeal is due to the exquisite cinematography of veteran Christopher Challis. He manages to evoke a strong sense of time and place with good location work, and is helped in this by solid production design and an enchanting musical score. My only real criticism is that sometimes the suspense sequences could have been more tightly constructed without compromising the genteel atmosphere of the piece.
It would be nice to see this appear on DVD at sometime in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio to really appreciate the photography (BBC2 do at least broadcast it in 1.78:1). However, the film was produced by Rank, and I fear that Carlton will hold the distribution rights. Anyone who has ever purchased one of their DVDs will attest to the utter contempt that they appear to have for the format. Films are usually released in 1.33:1 full frame no matter what their original ratio, and in the case of 'The Eagle Has Landed' there are also some 12 minutes of the film missing! With these points in mind it doesn't bode well. If you haven't seen 'The Riddle Of The Sands' try and catch it next time round on TV. You may be pleasantly surprised by it.
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