Sink the Bismarck [DVD] [1960]

Lewis Gilbert's Sink The Bismarck comes to DVD in an edition that leaves the letterboxed laserdisc edition from the early 1990's, as well as all other home viewing versions, in the dust. The black-and-white CinemaScope movie has been transferred at with approximately a 2.35-to-1 aspect ratio (there's still a tiny bit of information cut off on the extreme sides in the opening credits), from what looks very close to if not an actual original negative. The black-and-white photography is essential in the film weaving the spell that it does, of a documentary-style immediacy and capturing the stark, bleak mood that was abroad in London and much of England in the spring of 1941 -- this is emphasized even further in the letterboxed version of the movie, which frames the action (and the tension and the setting) in precisely the terms that Gilbert and cinematographer Christopher Challis planned. The audio has also been mastered at a good, healthy volume, bringing out not only the details of Clifton Parker's score (a rather spare creation, and a good example of less being more in a movie like this) as well as all of the dialogue, much of which is spoken in the low-keyed manner appropriate to British war movies (as opposed to their more overheated American cousins), and the sea battles are convincingly noisy. On the small visual details, the transfer is so crisp that the four insignia stripes on Kenneth More's uniform shimmer in some shots -- the only flaw is a very light white vertical stripe down the right hand side of the screen in one of the shots of the open sea at approximately 70 minutes into the movie. The only place left beyond this point in improving the presentation of the movie, short of owning a good 35mm print, would be high-definition -- the resolution on this transfer is such that even shadows falling on black uniforms are easily visible. The 97 minute movie has been given 32 chapters, which is totally appropriate to the content and structure of the movie, whose real-life events are almost as familiar as those leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. As a bonus, Fox Video has included the Fox-Movietone newsreel devoted to the sinking of the Bismarck, and the English and Spanish language trailers for the movie, as well as the trailers for the other five movies in this May 2003 release cycle. The triple-layer menu opens automatically on start-up, with the trailers and the newsreel material is included in a separate special features branch -- French and Spanish subtitles and English captions are also offered, for those who want or need them.
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Special Features

  • Closed Captioned


Sink the Bismarck!
The Bismarck was the fabled German battleship of World War II. This film traces the "life" of the Bismarck from its launching (courtesy of newsreel footage) through its many battles and narrow escapes, concluding with its far-from-inevitable sinking in the Spring of 1941. Since one couldn't expect a ship to carry a 97-minute movie, the story concentrates on the human element, specifically a British intelligence captain (Kenneth More), who has lost his family in the London blitz and thus has a personal reason for seeing the Bismarck blasted from the sea. The captain's tireless efforts are abetted by the love and support of a female naval officer Dana Wynter. The climactic sinking is deftly assembled from stock footage and newly shot scenes of expertly delineated scale models. As a bonus, Sink the Bismarck yielded a hit song, which many children of the 1960s can still recite from memory. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Dana Wynter
    Dana Wynter - Anne Davis
  • Laurence Naismith
    Laurence Naismith - First Sea Lord
  • Geoffrey Keen
    Geoffrey Keen - A.C.N.S.
  • Image coming soon
    Karel Stepanek - Adm. Lutjens
  • Maurice Denham
    Maurice Denham - Cmdr. Richards

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