Monday, 22 September 2014

Thursday Movie Picks Meme: Nautical Movies

This week, the theme for Wanderer's Thursday Movie Picks Meme is movies about boats. Seeing as I'm the one who suggested it I naturally had to take part in some form. Nautical movies are something I tend to be attracted to very easily, probably because it has something to do with my fascination in the underwater world. It's not too hard to be intrigued by the whole new world that opens up just a few feet below the surface of the ocean and all the strange creatures you'll find down there. If you know here to look, perhaps you will even find the ancient city of R'lyeh, Y'ha-nthlei, the city of the Deep Ones, or even the lost city of Atlantis.

But that's a subject for another time. The focus here is on movies about boats, and that's what I intend to deliver. As usual, I am listing them in order by release dates, and even better I have managed to find one from each era.

The African Queen (1951)

This one is a classic, and also the only one on my list to feature a strong female lead. The plot centers more or less exclusively on a river boat captain and a female missionary who are forced together as World War I begins, and essentially left to live on the Ulanga River with only a tiny boat (the titular "African Queen") for shelter. The Captain, played by Bogart wants to get out before things get worse, but his companion Rose Sayer, played by Katherine Hepburn, has a more ambitious plan to improvise torpedoes and sink a German warship.

Das Boot (1981)

Let's spice things up a bit with a foreign language film. Some of you may remember Das Boot from my days as an Unterganger. I used to use it as the basis for a little series where the crew would always be devising hilarious and bizarre schemes to piss off/humiliate Hitler. Those were a lot of fun to make, but sadly the original film is not so funny. Depending on the version, your experience could last anywhere from an hour and a half to five straight hours. Either way, you are in for a dark and depressing tale.

The story is basically about the day to day experiences faced by the crew of a German u-boat during World War II. Despite the obvious impression, most of the characters are actually quite sympathetic (only one member of the crew is actually a Nazi, and even he has human qualities). The claustrophobia is bad enough, but the nightmare goes far beyond that. There is the cramped conditions, the filth, and the constant fear of being sunk and having no way out. At best the characters are faced with extreme boredom, at worst they're desperately fighting just to survive. Ironically the author of the book that inspired the film went on to claim that this was "glorifying" the experience, which makes you wonder just how much worse the real thing would have been.

All is Lost (2013)

You might remember that I did this one for my blindspot challenge last month. It is an interesting movie in its sheer simplicity. There are very few sets, mostly open water, and only a single character in the form of Robert Redford. He plays a lone sailor who finds himself in a desperate struggle to survive, constantly being bombarded with one danger after another. You are naturally compelled to follow his every effort to survive and hope that he does eventually get rescued.


  1. Great movies you picked. I like "The Enemy Below" as well. A cat and mouse game between a destroyer and a German U-Boat. It stars Robert Mitchum. I also really liked Master and Commander. You are right about Das Boat-very sad film and you feel the claustophobia

    1. Master and Commander was pretty good. I did consider putting it on this list before, but The African Queen offered a bit more variety with the river-based setting. I've never actually seen The Enemy Below, although I've been told it's a very interesting movie.

  2. Days Boot is a great choice. Definitely a sad movie. My experience with it was three and a half hours, I think. Sadly, I still haven't seen African Queen. I will, but since I'm not a big Bogart fan, I'm in no rush. Haven't seen All is Lost yet, either. That one has been near the top of my to-watch list for awhile, but seems to keep getting bumped right before it actually gets there.

    1. That was the same for me. The Directors' Cut is usually the version that gets recommended.

      All is Lost is a great movie, but I had the same problem myself. Part of the reason I put it on my blindspot list was so that I would finally get around to picking up a copy and seeing it.

  3. I haven't watch a lot of nautical theme no surprise, I've not seen any of your picks today. The African Queen and Das Boot are just two of those movies that I always hear about but never knowing what they are about.
    Wandering through the Shelves