I finally saw U-571. What's up with the editing?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by BrianW, Sep 4, 2001.

  1. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    Sorry if this has been discussed before, but the search function has been disabled.
    I thought U-571 was a good movie in many respects. The acting, sets, special effects, and excellent pacing all combined to do a very good job of getting me "into" this movie. But during quite a number of suspenseful moments, I was consistently taken completely out of the movie when the movie would cut to an exterior shot of the submarine.
    For instance, when the sub was being driven by only one propeller (as had been revealed in the dialog), an exterior shot would show both screws spinning. In one instance, the engines were completely down, and the exterior shots again showed both screws spinning, driving the sub through the water.
    Also, there was a particular exterior shot of the sub from underneath, with the sub advancing overhead. In this shots, the sub is surfaced, and you can see the water's surface and the sub's wake as the sub moves overhead. Also, the screws were always spinning in this shot. Well, they used this exterior shot numerous times when the sub was not surfaced. Indeed, they cut to this exterior shot once when the sub was supposed to have been 160 meters below the surface, with the engines completely idle.
    To me, every time they cut to these shots, my Lame-O-Meter would advance another notch. They may as well have interspersed the movie with clips from episodes of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea or even Lost in Space. It was that bad. Consequently, my suspension of disbelief was, well, suspended. And my enjoyment of an otherwise fine movie wasn't nearly what it could have been.
    Am I the only one who noticed this? Or am I so ignorant of submarines that I have no idea what I'm talking about? I'll grant that my ignorance runs pretty high with such things, but I'm pretty sure that a sub at 160 meters shouldn't be leaving a wake that shimmers in the sunlight behind the sub's tail.
    [Edited last by BrianW on September 04, 2001 at 08:05 PM]
     
  2. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    No, U-571 takes history, reality, and good moviemaking in general and tosses it. I had to watch Das Boot again to cleanse myself
    Jeff Kleist
     
  3. AjayM

    AjayM Screenwriter

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    If the sub is moving underwater then the screws will turn, even if their is power applied or not. This is just a function of the shape of the propeller moving through the water. If you lock the transmission so the screws don't turn it's noiser and more drag on the boat. Racing sailboats get around this by using folding props (when the engine is spinning the prop the momentum holds the prop open, when the engine is off and the boat is moving the prop closes).
    As to the picture shots, there isn't an explanation I can think of, although I didn't see it quite as clearly as you did. My biggest beef was when the sub was diving under the destroyer you couldn't see the underwater part of the ship, in the next shot you did as the sub went under it.
    Other things that bothered me were the depth charge scenes, while fun to watch (especially loudly), they weren't very accurate, an explosion going off that close to a sub would killed the sub.
    Andrew
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  4. Jeff Adams

    Jeff Adams Screenwriter

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    Yeah, some of the movie was unrealistic, but who cares. It was still a great movie. And as far as the screws still spinning, Ajay said what I was going to say. The sub is still moving so that means the screws will too. Also the sub was running on auxilary power during parts of the movie.
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    "I'm your Huckelberry"
     
  5. Brennan Hill

    Brennan Hill Stunt Coordinator

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    I had a decidedly mixed reaction, but came to appreciate it more after picking up the DVD. I enjoyed the commentary. If I remember correctly, Mostow viewed it as a thowback/tribute to the war films of his childhood. And from that viewpoint, I appreciated it a bit more. Also, a lot of questions I had concerning the accuracy of the portrayl were answered and explained in the commentary. That's not to say there weren't some absurd moments, but as a lover of WWII flicks, and submarine movies in particular, I've come to appreciate it. Especially now with my SVS.
    Brennan
     
  6. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    Well, after watching the movie a second time, I have to confess that I didn't know what I was talking about. I was wrong about the exterior shots that showed the sub on the surface when it was submerged. Those exterior shots were not of the sub at all, but of the pursuing destroyer. It was the destroyer that had both screws driving the boat, and it was the destroyer leaving the shimmering wake in the water's surface.
    I simply can't tell the back end of a submarine from the back end of a destroyer. Oh, well.
    Thanks to those who informed me that undriven screws will turn as the boat makes its way through the water. I thought this might be the case, but the screws I saw were very clearly driving the boat, not the other way around. Of course, now that I know that I was seeing the destroyer's backside and not the sub's backside, it makes perfect sense that the screws were powered. Once I understood what I was seeing, it made perfect sense.
    Thanks for all your replies, but I think we can chalk this one up to "Viewer Error."
     

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