Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The Sinking of the Laconia

aaagh I know it's been ages, but now that my essays are done I vow to do one blog a day until I've caught up :)

Ok, so I watched The Sinking of the Laconia about a week ago and I was a little confused at first. Essentially it was a troop ship during world war 2 that was carrying prisoners of war and civilians from Africa, but was sunk by a German U-Boat. When the Captain ordered the ship to rise to check out the damage they discovered the women and children and so took them aboard in order to save the survivors.

Basics out of the way... It started as a kind of bad Titanic remake, with the prisoners in squalid conditions below deck and the upper class English Ladies sipping tea and singing "We'll Meet Again" on the deck. This made the first episode rather dull in all honesty. However, on the sinking of the ship, we discover that one of the "ladies" is a German escaping trial, and many interesting bonds begin to develop, especially between the Germans and the British. It becomes a focused moral drama, where the decisions of the U-Boat captain and the British and German high command are called into question. The British suspect a trap, and so refuse to send out rescue boats, the Germans believe that War is War, and so the survivors should be abandoned in their lifeboats in the middle of the ocean.

The hardest parts involve the children and the Americans. The German escapee loses her baby when the ship sinks and two young children lose their mother, whilst their critical father abandons them to the care of others. The Americans, being told of a missing ship, send out a search plane.  It see's the U-Boat, with painted red cross and many passengers and, ignoring the odd circumstances, fire recklessly, killing some and injuring others.  The surviving British commander then jumps in front of the German Commander, saving his life and being injured in the process.

The main issues are then the intricate balance between respect, morality and orders, with a capital O.   The U-boat captain acts honourably, ignoring his orders for as long as possible, whilst the impossible seeming friendships develop between foes and enemies, regardless or nationality and class. Thus what was a quite boring and predictable start became very enjoyable, despite the awful portrayal of a Welsh accent...

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