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The Voyage Of Russian Sailors To Unknown Fates

The Film

By Hou AdjouzPublished 2 years ago 10 min read

The film "Kursk" by Danish director Thomas Winterberg is considered one of the "human catastrophes" films that nature disavows, because those who caused them or those behind them are human beings like us, but they are not necessarily normal and their hearts do not beat in front of a painful human catastrophe that led to the death of 118 Russian sailors without A hair is shaking for Russian President Vladimir Putin, or for his narrow circle of advisers and senior officials who do not dare to transcend greatness and false pride and arrogance.

In this film, the element of suspense is mixed with excitement, and anticipation is intertwined with caution, but the viewer cannot help himself from fear and panic as he sees the entire Kursk submarine crew heading towards their unknown fates unless a miracle is achieved. The Russian leadership agrees to accept foreign assistance provided by four technologically advanced countries, America, France, Britain and Norway, whose experts pledged to rescue the survivors of the disaster after the two big explosions that destroyed part of the submarine, while the seventh section remained intact, but the oxygen cylinders ran out successively, and the submarine sank.

The wait is not limited to the Russian sailors trapped in the submarine, but extends to their mothers and mothers, their bereaved wives, and the young children who felt that the terrifying specter of death surrounded their parents who had passed the ticket to death without any hope of returning to the bosom of intimate family life again.


Despite the director Thomas Winterberg's affiliation with the "Dogma 95" movement, which he founded with his colleague, Lars von Trier, in addition to other directors who refused to rely on huge budgets, and avoided the use of very expensive visual effects, the production cost of this film, which combines movement, drama and history, amounted to 40 million US dollars. Nevertheless, the director preserved the story of the film, and bet a lot on the performance of actors from several countries, including Russia, France, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium and the United Kingdom, and made them speak English in order to spread the film, especially in America, England and the rest of the English-speaking countries.

The script of the film written by Robert Rodat is based on Robert Moore's "A Time to Die" book, and this is a clear indication that Winterberg was avoiding going into the author's cinema, but he kept betting on embodying his directorial vision, and recruiting others to serve this intellectual and aesthetic purpose at the same time.

Realistic story infused with imagination

Although the story is realistic and did not leave the memory of many, it was fed with imaginary shipments that made the events palatable and believable in a country that did not leave repression, and did not stop confiscating the personal and public freedoms of others.

There is no doubt that the film raises many questions, the most important of which is that the new Russian regime that Putin received, who is the righteous son of the "Soviet" security establishment, wants to preserve military secrets in general, including conducting nuclear tests in the depths of the seas and oceans, as he tries to preserve face. After his predecessors failed him and contributed to the dismantling and weakening of the former Soviet Union to put an end to the Cold War and the simmering hostility between the two superpowers.

Winterberg did not want to be trapped in one place, as in Gustav Muller's "The Guilty", "The Rope" by Alfred Hitchcock, or 127 Hours by Danny Boyle, where the events of the first film take place in a police station, the second in a room, and the third in a ravine. After a rock falls on the hero's hand, it blocks his movement for 127 hours.

The film "Kursk" begins with a very meaningful family scene where the child Misha remained underwater for 57 seconds, brilliantly played by the Russian child "Artemi Spiridonov", while the role of Father Mikhail Avren was played by the Belgian actor "Matthias Schonarts". As for the mother, Tania, played by the French artist "Lia Seydoux", we saw her in the opening scene as she runs after her son, who escapes from early sleep and tries to stay awake for as long as possible.

The director enhances this family scene with a wedding ceremony that reflects the social solidarity of the Russian sailors even though they have not received their belated salaries in Moscow, yet Lieutenant Mikhail Averin sells his precious watch to buy several bottles of vodka and drinks with the revelers to the marriage of their friend Pavel to Daria, and wishes them a happy married life.

This spatial space is intended as if it prepares the recipients to enter the families of the one place in which the disaster will occur, and whenever he feels suffocated, he leaves the interior of the submarine and returns us to the families of the sailors who are waiting for the return of the men who rode the horrors, and surrendered their souls to the unknown.

Underwater events and facts on land

The film's story, though tragic, includes a satiric breath, as Russian submarines transport fruits and meat to Italy, and if they are exposed to a possible American attack, they will respond by throwing vegetables instead of nuclear missiles. The number of submarines has dwindled to a third and they have so few rescue ships left that they desperately need foreign expertise.

The Russian Navy has not conducted underwater nuclear tests for ten years, nor has it developed its old technical information that has expired and no longer fits with the spirit of the times, so it urgently needs European and American expertise, but it is arrogant and contemplates the policy of superiority over others.

The first explosion takes place in the twenty-fourth minute of the film, putting the director on the first tragic turn, plunging us into the main knot that escalates with the second explosion, and we watch for 80 minutes as the crew desperately tries to survive, but time is running out, and oxygen cylinders are running out. One after the other.

The architectural structure of the film is characterized by two deep levels that attract the attention of the recipient, the first is that its events take place under water, and the second is that its events take place on land.

Just as sailors resist explosions, lack of oxygen and suffocation, women challenge the bureaucracy of the great generals who distort the news they receive and do not tell the whole truth, and they swear by the idea of ​​defending the homeland, and sacrificing the most precious for it.

Saving the crew or protecting secrets?

The degree of suspense and excitement in the film multiplies when the Russian Navy announces that there are 23 sailors alive, which prompts senior officers to hold open meetings that do not surround families with any useful information, the most important of which is accepting foreign assistance offered by the four countries, and the English side had arrived very close From the scene of the incident, when he tried to intervene to save the survivors, General Vladimir Petrenko told him that the Russian rescue team was working well and that the decision for foreign intervention would be taken tomorrow.

Despite the temptations and serious promises made by the British Commodore David Russell that he would release the stranded people within a few hours, the Russian side was tough on the pretext of protecting their maritime secrets, and trying to avoid the international insult that hurt the Russian scientific mentality.

In the depths of the Barnes Sea, Lieutenant Michael was asking his comrades about the remaining time, and they told him that he had only two minutes, a very little time, but enough to express his pride in working with this brave crew, who did not lose his composure except with limited exceptions.

Perhaps he was recalling the tape of his life with his wife, whom he loved from the depths, and with his son, who was contending with the tyranny of staying under water for a long time at such a young age. .

The son who refused to shake hands with the general

Although "Kursk" is a disaster movie par excellence, it is also a social movie that says a lot about love, passion and homeschooling. Ftanya was not a passing wife who went unnoticed. She is the bold and defiant who wants to know everything about the fate of the sailors in the Kursk submarine, including her husband.

Tania was interrupting the generals, interfering intelligently to find out their fate and the possibility of saving them or not, and when she learned the shocking news, she said at the memorial ceremony that she wanted to have more children for him because she loved him forever as he loved her with an unparalleled love.

Although "Kursk" is a disaster movie par excellence, it is also a social movie that says many things about love, passion and homeschooling.

As for the child Misha who was diving in the swimming pool, he was also brave when he refused to shake hands with General Petrenko in the church, because he feels that this general was the reason for preventing international assistance to rescue the survivors, if we consider that this great general is the objective equivalent of President Putin With the different position that the viewer knows in advance.

The film concludes with a telling scene when two officers follow Tania and her son. One of them praises him when he hands him his father's watch that he sold in order to secure his friend Pavel's wedding, and tells him that he appreciates his courageous stance in the church after refusing to shake hands with the general who was the cause of the death of the entire crew, including his dear father who... He passed away, leaving him stripped of the paternal tenderness that he misses at every moment.

And before we turn the page of the film, we read on the screen a painful sentence that the men of "Kursk" left behind 71 children who were devastated by their parents, and their memories will echo before their sad eyes for life.

The versatility of sound and image

Despite the professionalism of the script, the director's mastery of his technical tools, and the ingenuity of the actors in embodying their roles, the film is not complete apart from photography, music, sound and visual effects, in addition to editing.

It suffices to point out the role of the creative British photographer, Anthony Dodd Mantell, who dazzled us with the amazing pictures and scenes he took underwater and on land, and each scene was a visual speech that had great significance for the recipient.

He has previously won Academy Awards and BAFTAs for his stunning portrayal of "Slumdog Millionaire", so it is not surprising that we see so many expressive shots that do not leave viewers' memory easily.

Despite the ingenuity of the actors in embodying their roles, the film is not complete without photography, music, sound and visual effects.

In the same context, the music in harmony with the context of the events did not come out of nowhere because its creator is the well-known French musician Alexandre Desbla, who also received two Oscars for his unique musical contribution in the films "The Grand Budapest Hotel" and "The Shape of Water". Any viewer with a sensitive musical ear can feel the creative volume contained in the music of the aforementioned films.

As for the Icelandic editor, Valdis Oskadetter, she won several international awards for the films she produced, most notably "Eternal Sunshine of a Clean Mind".

These three creators, in addition to the screenwriter and the various acting crew, did not meet due to a coincidence, but rather came as a result of a deep and scrutiny study that completed this masterpiece, although its theme is tragic and has a severe impact on fans of the seventh art.

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About the Creator

Hou Adjouz

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