Sunday, February 12, 2017
My VHS Purge: Search for Battleship Bismarck
As part of a downsizing project eight years ago I purged most of my pre-recorded VHS tape collection. I've never been a big collector of movies -- my DVD library is fairly small -- but the fact is I had accumulated around 70 tapes:
Search for Battleship Bismarck (1989) Dr Robert Ballard searches for the lost World War II German warship. The pursuit and sinking of the Bismarck is a grand tale of a sea battle between two great naval forces: Britain's Royal Navy and Germany's Kriegsmarine. Search for Battleship Bismarck plays the straight documentary form: Archival footage from the war and battle; interviews with historians, and with men who fought on both sides. The stories are at times moving. One in particular is recounted by former Royal Navy seaman and author Ludovic Kennedy as he reads from his book Pursuit: The Chase and Sinking of the Bismarck: The HMS Dorsetshire's rescuing of German sailors from oil slicked water is abandoned after a lookout spots what appears to be a U-Boat's periscope. Perhaps the most sobering story told in the film is that of a German sailor whose arms had been blown off in the final battle. He tries desperately to stay afloat and to clench a lifeline with his teeth.
Motion picture film shot from the deck of a Royal Navy warship showing the Bismarck in its death throes may be the most potent and 'truthful' footage of the documentary.
Many documentaries have been made about the sinking of the Bismarck, but Search for Battleship Bismarck carries the National Geographic mark of quality.