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4.5 out of 5 stars87
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on January 13, 2004
This was a very-good effort, pretty-convincing special effects, good script, looks right, feels right, sounds right, but does divert from authentic fact in some regards to sex it up a little. Moores character is fictional, as final credits admit.
Script sounds right, and may delight both British and non-British viewers:
Suffolk /Norfolk shadowing cruisers Jack Tarr crewmen:
'Oy,you know, we might as well throw crumpets at the Bismarck for all the good our little guns would do!
Crewman 2 'I wish someone would throw a bleedin' crumpet at me!
The destroyer 'Solent' destroyed by a salvo from the Bismarck after the Captain beautifully-Britishly declares


as a searchlight clicks onto the sneaky brave little British -ship trying to angle for a night-torpedo attack, never existed. Vians tribal destroyer-flotilla 2 and a Polish-destroyer 'Paiun' did attempt a night attack in heavy seas the night before Bismarcks destruction, but despite considerable gunfire exchanged with the rudder-crippled Nazi collossus, neither Bismarck nor its small tormentors suffered much damage, let alone sudden shattering obliteration like this imaginary 'Solent'.
And as the final-scene suggests, despite all the invincible unsinkable ballyhoo, Bismarck was silenced relatively quickly by two British heavy ships. Then saturated by torpedos from destroyers and cruisers once silenced, this was thought to have been the reason it was finished-off, but strong evidence now suggests the surviving German crews scuttled the blazing listing hulk, rather than risk its capture as a trophy- not a practical possiblity for the British force assailing it, as it now turns out.They were low on fuel, apprehensive of U-boats, just coming into range of the Luftwaffe, and were inclined to 'bounce' as soon as Bismarck was done for, not take 45 000 tons of admittedly good German scrap-metal under tow.
For the war-bird buffs, the 2 'Swordfish' attacks are actually rather fabulous, look absolutely great from all camera-angles, including plumetting torpedoes. Once again the film sexes up the truth, showing 1 or 2 Swordfish blown to pieces by flak in each attack, miraculously, no 'Stringbags' were shot down in either attack, one suffered a near-miss flak-burst and the crew wounded by splinters but survived.( Its thought the normally excellent German gunners missed and missed because they couldnt judge the speed of the 100 mph WW1-performance biplanes.)
But this is a good one, and I can recommend without reservation, it stands-up and impresses easily today.Certainly its worth 5 or 10 'U571s' or 'Pearl Harbors'....
If you want to read the factual story of Bismarck , its hunting and sinking, out of the several books Ive read, I would glowingly endorse 'Pursuit', by Ludovic Kennedy, for this is a great unput-downable sea-story in its own right, 'Pursuit' would be available on Amazon,probably cheap 2nd hand H/C, and you wouldnt regret its purchase, trust me.
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on September 14, 2003
In 1941 the Bismark tried to sail down the Denmark Strait and into the Atlantic to hunt British merchant ships. The British were able to track the movements of the Bismark and its escort the Prince Eugen as a cruiser on routine patrol spotted it. The British sent out the battleship Prince of Wales and the Battle Cruiser Hood to intercept it. This was done and the outcome should have been that the Bismark was either sunk or crippled. A lucky shot however penertrated the deck of the Hood blowing it up. To everyones surprise the Bismark was into the Atlantic.
The sinking of the Hood created in the minds of the British that the Bismark was some sort of super battleship. In fact it was about the same size as British ships and its armament was similiar. Its main advantage was its slightly higher speed.
Within a few days of the sinking of the Hood the British were able to concentrate their naval might and to sink the Bismark without suffering any serious losses.
The battle was one in which the British were always going to win but it occured at a point in the war when the Germans occupied Europe and seemed invincible. They were of course about to end all this by their unsuccesful attack on the Soviet Union.
The film captures the feeling of nervousness and desperation of those years. It also captures the immense pride that the British felt at their meticulous and logical tracking down of the enemy battle ship. The film uses models to create the battle scences and they are very effective. Some filming is done in a British battleship. The creation of the war room is realistic and a little ahead of its time in trying to show the mechanics of the operation.
The portrait of the Germans is from cliche land but the film is an effective war film and accurately captures the mood of the time.
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on December 13, 2002
This movie is a good telling of the Bismarck's ill-fated cruise in May 1941. There are a few fictional elements added: two Swordfish being shot down (in reality none were lost), a British destroyer being sunk on the last night (only British loss was Hood), and Lutjens being a Nazi (Admrial Raeder actually sacked officers who were Nazis and made sure officers with Jewish blood were protected). The SFX are acceptable for the time the movie was made (1960), but it's easy to tell that the ships are models in a studio tank. With the discovery of the Hood's wreck and James Cameron's dive on the Bismarck wreck this movie comes back into focus. This is one movie that OUGHT to be remade today-and with today's SFX, it would be easy to show the ships-Bismarck, Prinz Eugen, Hood, Prince of Wales, King George V, Rodney, Norfolk, Suffolk, Dorsetshire, Victorious, Ark Royal, Sheffield, and the Tribal-class DDs of the 4th DD Flotilla (under a man whose career deserves a movie of his own-then CAPT Philip Vian).
All that's missing from this movie is Johnny Horton's song.
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on August 2, 2002
The British have made war and historical movies with an unrivaled consistency of quality, and Sink the Bismarck is no exception. The details are meticulous, the casting first-rate (except for a hokey voice-impersonation of Churchill), and the battle sequences marked by accuracy and fine special effects.
This otherwise fine film is marred, however, by the false depiction of one of the major characters, Admiral Lutjens, commander of the Bismarck. In the film, he is stereotyped as the typical Nazi - a Hitler sycophant, careerist and wild-eyed fanatic. This was most certainly not the historical Lutjens, who was by no means a Nazi fanatic. Lutjens was a naval hero from World War I, who served out of duty and dedication, not Nazi conviction. (Lutjens protected Jews under his command, and members of his family were in trouble for their anti-Nazi views.) This is at complete odds with his depiction in Sink the Bismarck, which I find inexcusable, given that the above information was certainly available to the production. In fact, an accurate depiction of Lutjens would have, in my opinion, added interest to the plot.
Nevertheless, Sink the Bismarck is eminently watchable and a fine addition to any war movie collection, if you bear in mind the above caveat.
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on June 13, 2000
Having studied this famous naval battle, I found the movie a bit disappointing. They have drawn the storyline away from the search for the Bismarck and on to a fictional character (More) in naval command headquarters in London, and his love interest (Wynter). The actual naval battles take up less than half of the movie, and when they are done they are not done in a very stimulating way. They are basically just bathtub models of battleships. The sinking of HMS HOOD is particularly disappointing. In reality, the sinking of the Hood (the greatest battleship in the Royal Navy) by a single shot from the mighty Bismarck is what enraged the British people to such an extent that Churchill dispatched the entire British fleet to hunt her down, and avenge the Hood. Very exciting in reality, but very underdone in the movie.
Although the naval battles could have been better done, the movie is still somewhat entertaining, and interesting from a historical perspective. So I would still (marginally) recommend it. (And if you buy it, here is a hot tip! Read the lips of the Captain of the Sheffield after he is accidentally mistaken for the Bismark and attacked by British torpedo planes. Very amusing! (And very avant-garde for a 1960 film!) I can only assume that the censors in 1960 were not proficient lip readers.)
If you are looking for a better naval battle movie I would recommend "That Hamilton Woman," with Jean Simmons and Lawrence Olivier (Emma Hamilton and Horatio Nelson). Lots of naval battles for us little boys and lots of sappy, star-crossed lovers' croonings for the little girls. Excellent family entertainment, with accurate historical content. How could you ask for more? :)
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on June 1, 2004
This fine film, made in 1960, does a fine job of re-creating the events surrounding the search for and eventual destruction of the pride of the German navy: the Bismarck. Veteran British actor Kenneth More stars as Captain Jonathan Shepard, a new officer who gets placed in charge of the hunt for the Bismarck in Britain's Naval Operations center. Shepard has a personal stake in seeing the Bismarck sunk. Bismarck's commander, Admiral Gunter Lutjens, played by Karel Stepanek, sunk Shepard's vessel earlier in the war. Dana Wynter stars as 2nd officer Anne Davis, an assistant to Capt. Shepard. A fictional implied but never shown romance develops between Shepard and Davis throughout the course of the film. Carl Mohner stars as Bismarck's Captain Lindemann.
The battle scenes are excellent. One must remember when viewing this film that the special effects are from the 1960's, but that does nothing to detract from the excitement of the ship-to-ship combat scenes. The fight between the HMS Hood and Bismarck is the high point of the film. It was exciting to see the ships being straddled by the other's shells, and seeing the Hood blow up was especially thrilling.
The historical correctness of the film was excellent except for a few minor details. For example, during the attack on the Bismarck by the British Swordfish torpedo planes, the movie shows two being destroyed when in reality none were lost. Also, the movie depicts a British destroyer being sunk by Bismarck. This is also incorrect as the Hood was the only British loss. Finally, the movie depicts Admiral Lutjens as being a staunt supporter of the Nazi party. This is also false. Lutjens was against Naziism, and refused to give the Nazi salute, instead preferring to use the old German navy salute. The movie also depicted a rather close relationship between Lutjens and Lindemann. This was also not the case. In reality, the two German commanders disagreed on many topics, and at one point during the heat of battle, Lindemann said to Lutjens that he refused to sit by while his ship was shot out from underneath him. Aside from these points, the historical aspect of the movie is very well done.
I highly recommend this film. The acting is excellent and the battle scenes will keep you on the edge of your seat. Watch this great movie and experience the hunt for the most feared ship in the German navy.
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on June 15, 2003
I'm not entirely sure why I like this movie so very much, but I have loved it from the very first time I saw it more than 20 years ago and still watch it often. It is a dramatization of the true story of the short-lived first cruise of the German battleship "Bismarck", of the destruction it wrought and of the hunt to find and ultimately destroy it. Yes, there are some inaccuracies in the details of which ships took part in the hunt, as well as in the portrayal of German Admiral Gunther Lutjens, but the fact that this is a British movie, made while the scars of war were still a strongly living memory, should be borne in mind in this regard.
Among the things that make it worth viewing are: the presence of Edward R. Morrow recreating the atmosphere of his wartime London radio reports, the recreation of the Naval command center underneath the Admiralty building and the highly believable performance of Kenneth More (himself a wartime naval officer) as the deeply wounded Captain Shepherd. Dana Wynter also gives a delicately nuanced performance as Second Officer Anne Davis. The moment when she enters Shepherd's office and realizes that he is crying is beautifully done.
The highly restrained romantic undercurrent doesn't interfere with the main story line and is very believable for wartime professionals. One comes away from this movie knowing that a great menace to the eventual survival of Britain has been eliminated and that there may be hope for both the UK and for two lonely people.
The inclusion in the new DVD of some newreel footage of the actual event is a nice little bonus. The subject of the hunt for and destruction of the "Bismarck" has also recently been the subject of some recent documentaries. The story retains its impact, even after more than 60 years.
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on May 31, 2003
The duel between the British Admiralty and fleet, and the Bismarck, is a great story, and deserves a great telling. This movie does the job. The acting and storyline are first rate, and as long as one doesn't mind the black-and-white format, there is very little to criticize about this film. I found it to be terribly engrossing, and the minor dramatization and low-key love interest between the two leads did not detract from the grand theme of the movie: the vital task of destroying the great German battleship Bismarck before she could get loose out in the Atlantic and wreak havoc on the British convoy system--the jugular vein of the British nation even as she fought alone for her survival against the Nazi juggernaught.
A few minor points of criticism. I understand that the German fleet commander, Lutjens, was nothing like as portrayed in this film. In the film he is shown as a rather venal, fanatical Nazi. The real Lutjens was apparently nothing like that, and was evidently not even a member of the Nazi party. Well, I suppose a war film of this kind needs a "bad" Nazi character.
The liberties with the historical record aside, this is a wonderful film about a vital and critical battle of World War 2. This is one that you'll watch and enjoy more than once. Highly recommended.
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on May 24, 2003
I rated this at least a 4 star film for a none to thrilling fact that this film represents an event in a time past that was as dramatic as any of the days of world war 2.There are a few items of a verifiable nature that the would be viewer might well learn from. The world had settled a score with Germany with the signing of the armistice which ended the first world war.The accord agreed to restricted the tonnage,that is the size and scope of germanys naval ambitions,just to mention one of the many restrictions placed on germany.One of the original ideas that germany pioneered in order to get around the restrictions was the advent of what we now know was the pocket battleship.The Bismarck was a very powerfull,if not the most powerfull ship afloat while she roamed the seas.I beleive though that the Japanese had the distinction of possessing the right to the most powerfull ship afloat during world war two.However, look no further than the bismarck! Destroyers and the like ran from her and to be absolutly straight up with you that was a ship to be reckoned with! There is another fact that might provide some help in this very important battle that is about to take place? The first world war brought an end to the era of the dreadnaught,which H.M.S. Hood was part of,though her place on the high seas was at a latter point in the first world war she still possessed a dreadnaught distinction.During a time between the wars and commencing a time immediately before the onset of hostilites of the second world war Hood underwent a makeover.Listen to this! those dreadnaught were slower than what was being done as the years passed and in an effort to make Hood faster she made a sacrifice of her plating.If you really want a shock wear do you think her plating was taken from?Right behind the stacks immediately over the area which protects the munitions.If ever there was a disaster waiting to happen it was that.I beleive that this might still be a conjecture as to the Hood blowing up,however the rest is history.I want to be clear this actually occured Hood was refitted and slimmed down and it may have cost her,her life.Long Live this Island nation-had it not been For the resolve of England on the high seas things may very well been different.This is not lessen any other aspect of the very dramatic time in world history but its dramatic detail cannot be overlooked-As a side note this picture drew enough attention that I think it was a singer who released a song at the time of the release of the film called Sink the Bismarck by johnny Horton.There not many events in history that entire movies are dedicated to,well,this is one.
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on April 24, 2003
I watched an advance review copy of this DVD tonight and really enjoyed it. In addition to the movie, the DVD features not only the trailer for the main feature, but also a vintage 1941 MovieTone newsreel of the real battle to sink the Bismark and trailers for the other movies in the upcoming spate of "Fox War Classics" ("The Blue Max", "The Enemy Below", "Heaven Knows Mr. Allison", "The Desert Fox" and "13 Rue Madeleine."
Based on a book of the same name, which was in turn based on the real incidents in World War 2, the movie "Sink the Bismarck" retells the tale of the dogged effort by the British Royal Navy to track down and attempt to destroy the German battle cruiser Bismarck.
Much of the movie takes place at the Admiralty in London where the superb British actor Kenneth Moore surveys the ships as would a chess player on a large board, in an attempt to second guess and outmaneuver the German vessel.
The DVD is in fine shape and I did not notice any artifacts or nicks. Considering the age of the picture it is surprising that it should be so well prsented here, so full marks must go to 20th Century Fox. I have seen this movie before on television and I do not believe I have ever seen it looking as crisp and focused as it does on this DVD.
Altogether, this is easy to recommend especially considering the low price.
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