Print this page

Sink the Bismarck! on Blu-ray

Thursday, 14 March 2019 10:56

It is Spring 1941 and the battle for control of the North Atlantic is raging. Hulking, ‘unsinkable’ German battleship Bismarck is tasked with taking out Allied convoys, spurring the Royal Navy into a frantic fleet redeployment. The Admiralty’s new Chief of Operations, Captain Jonathan Shepard (Kenneth More – “A Night to Remember”, “Genevieve”) is the man responsible for making some hard decisions for the greater good.

Based in the London war room, 200 feet underground, Shepard puts personal tragedy and concern for his son’s life aboard the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal to one side. Aided by Wren Officer Anne Davis (Dana Wynter – “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, “Airport”), Shepard is forced to leave convoys desperately exposed in order to support the hunt for the Bismarck, but terrible weather conditions mean the giant vessel is alluding detection.

Directed by Lewis Gilbert of “Alfie”, “Educating Rita” and Bond film fame, the movie clearly conveys the major threat posed by the Bismarck, accompanied by heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, even when outnumbered by British ships. It may be a crude analogy but I was reminded of “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope”, with the Death Star replacing Bismarck. The German vessel was capable of inflicting massive casualties and causing huge disruption to supply runs if it was not stopped.

Using a mixture of impressive model ships (up to twenty feet in length – these were no miniatures!), stock footage and surviving vessels from the era, the naval action is tense, explosive and devastating. Shot in black and white, although the transition between footage is often evident, the audience still buys into the conflict.

The other scenes flit between the Royal Navy war room and the interiors and decks of various ships, introducing us to some of the officers and rank and file sailors. This includes the crew of the Bismarck; though their Captain Ernst Lindemann (Carl Möhner – “Callan”, “Rififi”) is driven by his need to impress the Führer, we are reminded that the men on board are just like us, and that war has dire consequences for all concerned.

I strongly recommend “Sink the Bismarck!” to war film enthusiasts. The depiction of naval conflict is thrilling, interesting and apparently relatively accurate from a historical perspective. More’s performance at the centre is less one-dimensional that initially meets the eye and helps to add humanity to proceedings.

Special features include:

  • 1080p presentation on Blu-ray
  • LPCM audio (Stereo and original Mono options)
  • Optional English SDH subtitles
  • Brand New and Exclusive interview with film historian Sheldon Hall
  • Original Theatrical Trailer

Sheldon Hall’s interview is illuminating, particularly in terms of the film’s context in the 1950s-1960s, and the Blu-ray’s picture quality is very stable and nicely detailed.

“Sink the Bismarck!” (1960) is out now, courtesy of Eureka Entertainment Ltd. The main feature has a running time of 97 minutes approx, carries a ‘U’ certificate and retails for £17.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com