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Movie of the Day – U-571

Posted on the 18 May 2012 by Plotdevice39 @PlotDevices

After coming off the explosion high that was “Battleship” I decided to stick a naval warfare genre for today’s post.  Yesterday saw me looking back fondly on the “it’s so bad it’s good” film, “Battle: Los Angeles” and remembering that yes, they did say that the aliens have no air support.  As ridiculous as that statement is, I like when things go boom and guns firing.  I am American and it doesn’t get more American than that.  So I decided on today’s post cause it was playing on TBS one day and I remember that I really enjoy this strong ensemble, American version of “Das Boot”, known as U-571.  Now I will say that while entertaining, this is a butchering of the actual events of the allied efforts to capture the German coding machine called, Enigma.  How did they butcher it, well it was Americans that were credited for the capture of the device, but I won’t lecture you too much on the pathos of this film, rather I will talk about the strong acting and tense, claustrophobic scenes that heighten the mood and creates an engaging story.

Movie of the Day – U-571

In this World War II action thriller, American reconnaissance agents learn that a German submarine is sinking. The doomed ship carries an Enigma Machine, a special coding device that allows high-level Axis forces to send messages that can’t be read without a similar encryption mechanism. Obtaining a working Enigma device would be invaluable for the Allied war effort, so a U.S. sub is sent out to rescue the machine. However, German forces have already picked up the sub’s distress signal and are en route to rescue their comrades. U-571 features a distinguished cast, including Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Harvey Keitel, and Jon Bon Jovi.  (source)

I will say that this isn’t the best, submarine/naval warfare/military movie around, but it certainly is one of the more entertaining, “non-historical” films around.  I really can’t stress enough about the fact that this movie only has a connection to the whole Enigma campaign in that there is a U boat and an enigma machine.  It was actually the British who captured the U-110, which the director substituted in Americans and U-571.  Not sure why, I can only speculate it was because it would be easier to make a film that had a more American lean and production.  That’s what I think, but lets ignore this gross misstep of historical storytelling.

Movie of the Day – U-571

If you are interested in a film that is close to “Das Boot” and the tension that accompanies a group of wanted soldiers who are trapped in an enemy submarine, behind enemy lines, then U-571 is a must.  Ignore the history and focus on the conflict at hand with the trapped naval crew in a gimped submarine.  I am not one for enclosed spaces and U-571 doesn’t help that cause.  Every nook and cranny of the submarine setting seems to be slowly condensing on the crew and couple that with the German navy pursuing them which creates fantastic tension in the film.  Depth charges rocking the hull of the sub, diving further into the depths of the sea that starts collapsing the ship and every breath might be the last they take in that metal coffin they are in.  All those elements add a thick layer of drama and suspense that makes the atmosphere chaotic and claustrophobic.  The film is a pure action film at heart and it tries to be like Das Boot, but doesn’t have that weighty impact and dialog that made that film what it is.

I still enjoy the film, mainly because it gives us some decent action scenes and moments of valor amongst the group of men tasked with taking the Enigma.  Paxton, McConaughey, and Keitel all do a fantastic job with the roles they had and each seem to move naturally amongst the wreckage of the ship, making snap decisions under pressure.  The composure and judgment seems real enough to make my a believer, but then again I am not in the Navy so the technical prowess is a bit lost on me.  For an action film, you can’t go wrong with a submarine movie like this.  For the history buffs, steer the fuck away from it lest you want to lose your mind at the rewriting of history.

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