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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

K-19 Widow-maker (released in 2002) - A movie starring Harrison Ford

This movie is directed by Katheryn Bigelow takes a leaf out of the the real life incidents concerning the Russian Nuclear submarine K-19. It stars Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson in the pivotal roles.
K-19 is a Soviet ballistic Nuclear Submarine which is commandeered by Captain Alexei Vostrikov. Vostrikov commands no respect with his crew because he is said to have landed this plum job because of his wife's political connections. The second in command executive officer Mikhail Polenin is an experienced and well liked officer. He and his crew go a long way and have difficulty in accepting the rookie Vostrikov. Vostrikov tries to meddle with the daily workings of the submarine and accuses the officer and crew of being soft and lazy. He organize difficult maneuvers and actions which is not compatible with the submarine of this class. Due to the mounting injuries the crew began to grumble and a mutiny is quelled because of Polenin's intervention.

After very satisfying trials Vostrikov orders a very tricky maneuver to test the surface ballistic missile. It involves rapid surfacing of the sub from great depths to break the thick Arctic Ice. Polenin has his reservations, but Vostrikov conducts this trial with no difficulties. After its success he wins the grudging respect from his crew members for his fearlessness. But Polenin considers him to be very lucky not prudent.
But the damage has been done with the coolant pipes of the reactor totally damaged. As the submarine cruises through the Atlantic perilously close to the US and NATO army base the crew realizes that the reactor temperatures are abnormally high which would result in an nuclear explosion. Vostrikov ruefully admits that his drastic trials in the Arctic have wrecked the submarine. Soon a plan is made to drain their drinking water supplies and direct it to cool the reactor. It requires lion hearted men to weld those pipes with standing high amount of radiation. This is the high point of the movie where these brave hearts work with out any protective suits for 10 minute shifts to salvage the reactor.
In the mean time Vostrikov repeals all American help and waits with the silent ship whose radio's are also damaged. Soon a mutiny occurs and is quelled by the resourceful Polenin. Vostrikov again tries to order the welding which is resisted by the crew. Thats the time when Polenin utters those amazing words “don't order them, ask them”. Vostrikov then tells them that a nuclear explosion would wipe out the US Army base nearby signaling retaliatory strikes against Russia resulting in a nuclear holocaust. The crew goes back to work suffering heavy causalities and saves the submarine, reaching a Russian ship.
In the end Vostrikov and his men, old and infirm can only drink to their fallen comrades as they are denied even their medals since it was not a war situation. An amazing movie and I consider it on par with Saving Private Ryan. It was nominated for the Political Film Society Award and was a critical and box office success. A gripping drama for all peace-lovers.

K-19 Widow-maker (released in 2002) - A movie starring Harrison Ford

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