Chapter

The submarine war and the submarine film

Jonathan Rayner

in The Naval War Film

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print March 2007 | ISBN: 9780719070983
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701157 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719070983.003.0016
The submarine war and the submarine film

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The tendency to subsume submarine films within the combat genre does not credit their recognisable narrative and representational differences, even where they are properly identified. This chapter distinguishes the films according to these differences, not only from other wartime productions, but also from other naval war films in matters of degree. Filmic representations of American submarine operations reveal marked consistencies, in the characterisation of crews and commanders, stock situations and representational conventions, as well as being governed by the overarching ideological imperatives. Destination Tokyo is analysed at length in Basinger's assemblage of the combat film paradigm, because of its commonality with many infantry combat films. Post-war submarine films foreground conflicts in command within the confines of sub-surface craft. The questioning of authority which these post-war submarine films undertake is more searching and potentially damaging than that seen in examples depicting surface ships. The challenge to command authority, vested in the rebellious executive officer, also recurs in comedy films set aboard submarines. These films turn on the humour of incongruity and unmilitary conduct within the context of regulation- and tradition-bound institutions.

Keywords: submarine films; submarine war; rebellious executive officer; American submarine operations; Destination Tokyo

Chapter.  7465 words. 

Subjects: Film

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