Sink the Bismarck! Blu-ray Review
"Solid foot of armor plate, that's what the Bismark's got!"
Sink the Bismarck! Film Review
Lewis 'The Spy Who Loved Me' Gilbert's classic 1960 war film sets sail for the high seas on a mission to Sink the Bismarck!Although often remembered for some of the most epic Bond films (Connery's You Only Live Twice and both Moore's The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker), Gilbert cut his teeth in the late 50s and early 60s on a series of World War II features, including this classic fictionalisation of the real tale of Nazi Germany's greatest Destroyer, and the British efforts to take it down.
The film follows a time where U-boats were not the biggest German players in WWII naval battles (see Das Boot). The Bismarck was Germany's largest and most powerful battleship, unveiled in 1939 and finally unleashed into the North Atlantic in 1941, wreaking havoc upon the British ships which simply did not have the firepower to take it down. As the tacticians back home tried desperately to come up with a plan to take it down, the ships at sea struggled to survive encounters with the beast.
A fine WWII gem
A genuine confluence of lucky circumstances, Gilbert's production managed to secure the full cooperation of the admiralty, who were retiring a whole fleet of WWII ships just at the very time of production, allowing Sink the Bismarck! to be that rare feature which had real ships firing real guns, lending a tremendous air of authenticity to the feature which - coupled with the excellent model work (which Gilbert would use to superior effect in his Bond features too) - had some excellent seas sequences.
Perhaps more unusual for the time was not only the focus on the boys back home, with Kenneth More's Captain of the Admiralty trying to come up with a plan (whilst of course flirting with Dana Wynter's Second Officer, who arguably came up with half of the good ideas) to take the devastating Destroyer down, but also the German officers, who were actually starting to be given voice as intelligent opponents. Looking back, it's still terribly dated and lopsided, but for its time it was actually fairly fresh.
A nice companion-piece to the likes of Dam Busters and Cruel Sea, and with the current fondness for revisiting this period (Dunkirk, Churchill, Darkest Hour) it's somewhat surprising that they've never given this the Hollywood remake treatment. It's a fine little WWII gem.
Sink the Bismarck! Blu-ray PictureSink the Bismarck! makes its UK debut courtesy of Eureka Entertainment, who offer up a Region B-locked Blu-ray release adorned with a largely impressive - at least considering the near 60-year vintage - 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen.
A largely impressive - considering the near 60-year vintage - presentation
Whilst it's absolutely necessary to take into consideration the budget, age and production limitations of the film - some of the miniature work can't ever be fully cleaned up - Sink the Bismarck! still frequently impresses with the detail and texture on offer, benefiting from some real life ship scenery and making the most of the fact that it was shot in black and white, oftentimes inherently leading to a considerably less weathered and worn image. The greyscale is on-point, seldom hitting blown-out whites, and with only a few unresolved blacks that hover much more around the fuzzy grey end of the spectrum, with plenty of rich detail picked up on in-between. Overall it's very nice work indeed.
Sink the Bismarck! Blu-ray SoundA faithful rendition of the source material
The accompanying High Definition lossless Linear PCM 2.0 audio track is a great little offering, delivering a strong and faithful rendition of the source material, prioritising the dialogue - which is of particular import back in the war room - but also affording the sea battles some manner of intensity, notwithstanding the inherent limitations of material that's now almost 60 years old. There's some boom to the weaponry on offer, and the corresponding explosions, and the rousing and suitably symphonic score provides welcome accompaniment and is oftentimes the highlight of the track.
Sink the Bismarck! Blu-ray ExtrasThere's a brand new and exclusive Interview with film historian Sheldon Hall, as well as the Trailer
Sink the Bismarck! Blu-ray VerdictA nice little package for fans of the film to pick up
Eureka's Region B-locked UK Blu-ray release of Lewis Gilbert's classic 1960 World War II film, Sink the Bismarck!, delivers largely impressive video and audio, and an exclusive extra, leaving it a nice little package for fans of the film to pick up.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £17.99
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