The Sinking Of The Laconia (2010)
Tuesday 15th February 2011
Over ten years after his popular but controversial television adaptation of Oliver Twist, the acclaimed BAFTA Award winning writer Alan Bleasdale (G.B.H.; The Monocled Mutineer; Boys From The Blackstuff) makes a welcome and long overdue return with The Sinking Of The Laconia, released on DVD by Fremantle Home Entertainment on 14th March 2011, and a powerful two-part wartime drama telling an epic story of the unexpected gallantry and amazing heroism shown by ordinary people in the face of extraordinary adversity.
Directed by Uwe Janson (Vulkan) and based on true events that took place during World War II, The Sinking Of The Laconia features an impressive international cast of actors that includes Brian Cox (The Day Of The Triffids), Lindsay Duncan (Alice In Wonderland), Ken Duken (Inglourious Basterds; War And Peace), Andrew Buchan (Cranford), Franka Potente (The Bourne Identity), Matthias Koeberlin (Vulkan), Frederick Lau (The Countess), Thomas Kretschmann (Valkyrie), Jodi Balfour (Supernatural) and Morven Christie (Lost In Austen).
Brian Cox stars as Captain Sharp, captain of the RMS Laconia, a luxury cruise ship turned troop ship carrying civilians, children, wounded soldiers and Italian prisoners of war, which, on 12th September 1942, was unexpectedly attacked by a German U-boat and hit by two torpedoes while sailing 130 miles off Ascension Island in the South Atlantic Ocean.
As the ship began to sink, meaning almost certain death for the passengers, the commander of the U-156, Werner Hartenstein (Duken), decided to contradict the orders of the Nazi High Command and instructed his crewmen to save as many of the shipwrecked survivors as possible. During the next few days, the crew of the U-156 saved a total of 400 people, with 200 crammed on to the deck of the surfaced submarine and another 200 in lifeboats towed behind it. As Hartenstein arranged for messages to be sent to German U-boat Command and the Allies to organise a full rescue of the survivors, in a terrifying twist of fate, a U.S. B-24 bomber was already moving in to attack...
A truly moving story of integrity, honour, friendship and the triumph of the human spirit in the most incredible situations, The Sinking Of The Laconia is a monumental TV mini-series from one of Britain's finest screenwriters.
- 30-minute documentary "The Sinking Of The Laconia: Survivors' Tales"