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Drama - Historic

K-19: The Widowmaker (2002)

Duration 2h 18m Rating (UK) 12A
Source of story A book of the same name by maritime author and former US Naval officer Peter Huchthausen (died 2008)
Writers/Script Christopher Kyle (story Louis Nowra)
Additional Info A real former Russian submarine was used for the film, and at one point another submarine was actually required to come alongside it. It looked pretty dodgy to me!
Director Kathryn Bigelow
Starring Liam Neeson, Joss Ackland, Harrison Ford, John Shrapnel, Peter Sarsgaard, Donald Sumpter
Elevator Pitch K-19, Russia’s first nuclear submarine, has suffered from problems during development and is being pushed into active service despite the fact that the captain says it is not ready. He is demoted when another captain with political connections is put in charge. At sea the boat (the correct name for a submarine) continues to suffer from problems and when the cooling for the reactor fails the captain and crew are faced with stark choices, which will, almost inevitably, result in people dying.
Content Almost the whole film takes place within the submarine, except for occasional visits to the Soviet war room, and some time when the sub is on the surface and one set piece as the vessel surfaces from under the ice in the far north. The new captain and the former captain are at odds, the crew are faced with difficulties as the try to deal with the radiation. How will it all work out?
A View This was a big budget outing, quite liked by the critics, including Roger Ebert who gave it four stars, but it finally lost money. Perhaps no-one really cared about what had happened to a bunch of Russian seafarers, and I thought that the dramatic possibilities were limited, if by nothing else, the constricted construction of the submarine. So in the end you would have to decide whether to go with the critics or the general public, before deciding to give it a couple of hours of your time.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels

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