We have finally reached the end of the tournament. I have to admit it was not a thrilling one. There were a few minor upsets, but nothing shocking. In the end, the two movies that critics consider the best of the subgenre ended up in the finals. That was fairly predictable, especially for “Das Boot”. Although suspense was missing, I enjoyed the opportunity to visit this subgenre and pass on some information about the various movies that comprise it. It is a subgenre that was once a thriving one and occasionally returns as a branch of the action genre. In my process of preparing for the tournament, I learned a lot about the history of WWII submarine warfare. It is fascinating to me and it was interesting to see how submarine movies pass on that history. Unfortunately, knowledge of how submarines fought makes enjoyment of the movies problematical. Submarine movies exist mainly because movie makers see the potential for drama in a confined space. They usually are not concerned with tactical or historical accuracy. This means that what makes them entertaining for the masses makes them less so for history buffs like me. As you can perceive by following the tournament, I do not think there are very many good submarine movies. However, the tournament did give some recognition to some forgotten gems like “Above Us the Waves”, “We Dive at Dawn”, and “Hell and High Water”. Although there is only one great movie in the subgenre, there are some other must-sees.
PLOT: Boot = A Run = C
ACTING: Boot = A+ Run = A
TACTICS: Boot = B Run = F
CLICHES: Boot = B Run = D
DIALOGUE: Boot = B Run = B
ACTION: Boot = B Run = B
SPECIAL EFFECTS: Boot = C Run = B
ACCURACY: Boot = B Run = C
CHARACTERS: Boot = A Run = B
REALISM: Boot = A+ Run = D
SAILOR BEHAVIOR: Boot = A+ Run = C ENTERTAINMENT: Boot = B Run = B
DAS BOOT = 102
RUN SILENT = 81
ANALYSIS: No one should be surprised by the winner of the tournament. “Das Boot” is an acclaimed movie that created quite a stir when it came out in 1981. It is an adaptation of one of the best submarine novels and it was in the hands of a great director (Wolfgang Petersen) who was obsessed with the quality of the production. The effort that went into the film was amazing and it shows. The production costs were very high. Petersen assembled an ace cast and one hell of a great cinematographer (Jost Vacano). The movie was nominated for six Academy Awards including Director and Adapted Screenplay. It still holds the record for most nominations for a German film. It has a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Most importantly, as far as war movie buffs are concerned, it avoided the clichés that make the subgenre so tiresome. It also avoided the requirements of the action genre. Even though it came late in the subgenre, it is a unique film.
“Run Silent, Run Deep” should have been a worthy opponent. It is also based on a great novel, but in this case the adaptation was poor. It does have a decent cast and certainly star power with Gable and Lancaster. However, the director (Robert Wise) was not sterling. The big problem with the film is that in making the movie entertaining for the average viewer, it insults war movie lovers. Not played for laughs, it still provides them if you know submarine warfare. It is noteworthy that in spite of its flaws, it made it to the finals. This speaks volumes for the weakness of the subgenre.
Thank you to everyone who followed the tournament. I am self-motivated, but it is still nice to know someone is following. Now I have one year to ponder what the next tournament will be.