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The Cruel Sea(1953)
No synopsis for The Cruel Sea.
For more about The Cruel Sea and the The Cruel Sea Blu-ray release, see the The Cruel Sea Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on June 7, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Jack Hawkins, Donald Sinden, John Stratton, Denholm Elliott, John Warner (I), Stanley Baker
Director: Charles Frend
» See full cast & crew
The Cruel Sea Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, June 7, 2011
Nominated for three BAFTA Awards, including Best British Film and Best British Actor, Charles Frend's "The Cruel Sea" (1953) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Optimum Home Entertainment. The supplemental features on the disc include the original theatrical trailer for the film; video interview with Donald Sinden; and collection of stills from the shooting of the film. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked"
Adapted from the famous novel by Nicholas Monsarrat, Charles Frend's The Cruel Sea tells the story of Captain Ericson (Jack Hawkins, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Ben-Hur), who is put in charge with Compass Rose, a fast corvette, and its inexperienced crew. Captain Ericson is assisted by two young officers, Lockhart (Donald Sinden, Mogambo, Your Money or Your Wife) and Ferraby (John Stratton, The Third Key, Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell), who have never before been in open sea.
As the Compass Rose begins searching for German U-Boats, Captain Ericson and Lockhart form a bond that proves crucial for the success of their mission. Eventually, they begin relying on each other's instincts and trusting each other's judgment.
The U-Boats sink a number of ships but it is the ocean that proves a lot more dangerous. A couple of very strong storms, for instance, force the Compass Rose to change its course and even sink other corvettes patrolling the same waters.
The film is slow and methodical, allowing the audience to get a real feel of the combat. The terminology and various tactical descriptions are incredibly accurate, so much so that from time to time it is rather difficult to immediately understand the complex issues the crew must address (there is plenty of documentary footage used in the film as well). This is not to say, however, that the film lacks intensity; on the contrary, because of the enormous emphasis on detail the tragic events chronicled in the film are that much more impressive.
The film's greatest strength, however, is the characterization. It is incredibly easy to relate to the main protagonists because they are all real people, not heroes, who despite their training and ranks show real emotions when they are faced with difficult dilemmas. For example, in one of the film's most memorable sequences Captain Ericson decides to ignore a group of survivors in order to sink a U-Boat. Later on, he is tormented by their desperate screams for help. Elsewhere, one of Captain Ericson's officers, Morell (Denholm Elliott, A Room with a View, Raiders of the Lost Ark), accidentally discovers that his wife has started seeing another man. He returns to the corvette but for some time his thoughts remain with his wife and he struggles enormously.
The enemy is never seen, which is why most of the time the atmosphere in the film is incredibly tense. There is genuine sense of fear amongst the men because everyone realizes that a torpedo can sink the Compass Rose at any time.
Hawkins is outstanding as the strong and authoritative but never cocky captain who has seen it all. He is a tough, real man who isn't afraid to show emotion, which is why everyone on board of the Compass Rose respects him. Sinden is also brilliant as his right-hand man, understanding well that together they could accomplish a lot. Stratton exudes confidence but never arrogance. (The great Stanley Baker also makes a strong cameo appearance as an insecure lieutenant who falls seriously sick).
Note: In 1954, The Cruel Sea was nominated for Oscar for Best Writing, Screenplay (Eric Ambler). During the same year, the film was also nominated for three BAFTA Awards, including Best British Film and Best British Actor (Jack Hawkins).
The Cruel Sea Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.37:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Charles Frend's The Cruel Sea arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Optimum Home Entertainment.
Similar to Cross of Iron and Ice Cold in Alex, The Cruel Sea has been digitally restored. Naturally, there are massive improvements in terms of detail, clarity, contrast, and color reproduction. The best news, however, is that there have been no attempts to filter the film's raw sequences. Naturally, because heavy DNR corrections have not been performed healthy light grain is present at all times. Furthermore, many of the close-ups convey outstanding depth and fluidity, and many rival those seen in the upcoming Blu-ray release of Ice Cold in Alex (see screencapture #11). Clarity is also impressive, particularly during the nighttime footage, where these types of films are typically suffer the most. This being said, there are portions of the film where mild edge-enhancement occasionally creeps in (some could be seen in screencapture #19), at least some of which appears to be related to various color enhancements, mostly slightly boosted blacks, which I noticed. Still, this is a very strong release that will undoubtedly impress fans of The Cruel Sea. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
The Cruel Sea Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray release: English LPCM 2.0. For the record, Optimum Home Entertainment have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
Clearly there are limitations but all of them are source related. In other words, there are no serious technical anomalies that are likely to affect your viewing experience -- the English LPCM 2.0 track has a rather limited dynamic amplitude, but the dialog is crisp, clean, and easy to follow. Various stabilizations have been performed as well; there are no sound overlappings or massive audio dropouts. Background hiss is also not an issue of concern.
The Cruel Sea Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Cruel Sea Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Charles Frend's The Cruel Sea is undoubtedly one of the very best British war films ever made. Shot on board of an actual Royal Navy corvette, the film is incredibly realistic, occasionally looking like a big documentary feature. Simply terrific. Like Cross of Iron and Ice Cold in Alex, The Cruel Sea has been recently restored. Needless to say, it looks fantastic on Blu-ray. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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The Cruel Sea Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Cruel Sea Blu-ray Announced - May 3, 2011
Optimum Home Entertainment have announced that on June 13th they will release on Blu-ray Charles Frend's The Cruel Sea (1953). The film is based on the famous novel by Nicholas Monserrat, which chronicles life at sea during WWII on a boat tasked with protecting ...
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