Sunday, June 30, 2024

A very good, recent, World War II film

Greyhound (2020) is a film only recently available here on DVD although subscribers to Apple TV+ have had access to it. I have replaced the possibly pirated DVD I had already purchased, frustrated by the film's unavailability. The movie is based on C.S. Forester's book, The Good Shepherd (1955). Forester, of course, wrote the Hornblower novels about naval warfare in the Napoleonic era. The film script was written by Tom Hanks who also stars. It isn't long—only 80 minutes—but very intense. This review, from The Hollywood Reporter, describes it well:
As screenwriter, Hanks strips down the story to its essence, largely dispensing with both preamble and post-ordeal exhalation, focusing almost entirely on the nail-biting experience of the hellish voyage. The movie fully immerses the audience in battle, owing something to the intensity of both the D-Day landing in Saving Private Ryan and the combat sequences in Dunkirk. ....

Krause is captain of the Fletcher-class destroyer code-named Greyhound, leader of three other light warships assigned to protect a convoy of 37 merchant vessels carrying troops and crucial supplies across the North Atlantic to England. The action is concentrated on the middle stretch of the journey known as the “Black Pit,” where surveillance aircraft from both sides are out of range, putting the zig-zagging boats at the mercy of German submarines that lurk in a wolf-pack blockade.

The movie charts that treacherous crossing over three days, broken down according to watch hours, at a time when the stealthy U-boats were more sophisticated than the Navy sonar equipment used to detect them. The elimination of almost all the standard scenes of reprieve or personal backstories — aside from Krause’s brief memory flashes of his last encounter with Evelyn — makes for an exciting open-sea combat experience. ....

To Hanks’ credit, his screenplay mostly downplays the heroics while fully acknowledging the bravery and sacrifice of the men who fought in the Battle of the Atlantic, a WWII campaign relatively underrepresented in movies. (The Oscar-nominated 1981 feature that put director Wolfgang Petersen on the map, Das Boot, viewed the conflict from the German side.) With thorough verisimilitude, Greyhound depicts just one crossing among countless over a six-year period in which 3,500 ships carrying millions of tons of cargo were sunk and 72,200 souls were lost. .... (more)

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