The Enemy Below (this heading)


It’s easy to start to think that all submarine films will be about the same with the odd one cropping up that is truly terrible. Like the other night, watching Crash Dive (1997), not to be confused with Crash Dive (1943) which was an absolute shocker.

It’s been interesting going through this list of submarine films without checking out info on them beforehand. Last night I watched The Enemy Below. Great film. 4 cement mixers out of five. Goes into the category of great war movies, not just submarine movies. I know you’re probably thinking ‘war movies..???’ but hey – this one actually had a kind of a pacifism thing going in it.

I could see elements had been borrowed in later years – in Star Wars – the helmets looked like something off the Death Star, and even the scoring sounded a little John Williamsish. Similarly, the whole storyline was basically borrowed about ten years later and made into a Star Trek Original series episode, <a href=””>Balance of Terror</a>.

The enemy Below was also notable in that it didn’t have any of the usual sailor sexism–pictures of Betty Davis tacked up on the walls kind of thing. In fact I think if you were a homo-sex-ual you’d probably like this movie because there was barely a mention of women and there was also plenty of glistening-muscled aryan boys on the german sub.

The natural enemy of any sub is depth charges dropped from boats about. In every other movie I’ve seen, what this amounted to was the visual of 44-gallon drum falling into the water, as seen from below. In The Enemy… half of the action was taking place on board the yankee patrol ship–they were the ones doing the depth charges, and so showed how they actually launch them. Interesting.

I don’t why, but if a good film is going to lose it, 8 times out of 10, it’ll happen in the ending, and unfortunately this was the case here. It was otherwise a really well measured portrayal of the germans, but as mentioned, there was this vibe from both sides that ‘hey we don’t really want to fight this war but we’ve been ordered to’. As the cat and mouse continued the two captains gained respect for eachother, and then — at the end the american saves the german captain, and the german accepted help.

In reality, that guy would have gone down with his uboat or faced terrible humiliation on returning to the Fatherland, not to mention a firing squad.