The Cruel Sea (1953 – Blu-Ray)

“The only villain is the sea, the cruel sea that man has made more cruel”

Made less than a decade after WWII Ealing Studios‘The Cruel Sea’ must have been even more horribly real than when I viewed it today, 60 years later. The film is shot in stark documentary style black and white giving it a news reel believability. We follow a Navy crew as they desperately try to protect Britain’s vital Atlantic conveys from elusive German U-Boats. As the movie starts we are introduced to this motley crew of inexperienced and scared young men who by the end are just a few traumatized and isolated individual (If they make it to the end at all).

The two main characters of Captain and 1st Officer are portrayed by Jack Hawkins and Donald Sinden respectively. They both give outstanding performances with the scene where the Captain listens helpless to the sound of his men screaming below, being particularly harrowing and powerful. The overriding themes are the dehumanizing effect of war and the alienation from the men’s families that this brings. It reminded me a lot of 1982’s, ‘Das Boot’ and from now on I’ll always be thinking it’s the crew of the Compass Rose dueling un-seen with Jürgen Prochnow (And vice versa). ‘The Cruel Sea’ comes to the home as a pin-sharp Blu-Ray transfer with only a few lights vertical scratches to the negative to age the movie at all. ‘The Cruel Sea’ is part of the great pantheon of Ant-War films like Sam Peckinpah’s ‘Cross Of Iron’ and of course Wolfgang Petersen’s ‘Das Boot’ that aren’t about the fighting of war but the brave men who suffer in them.


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