Last night, I told Ethel that we were going to watch “Bear Bryant meets Marko Ramius”.
Okay, it wasn’t that exactly (although the dog’s name is “Bear”). It had *nothing to do with football, and not much to do with Russian submarines.
…I just finished rereading “Red Storm Rising” – it’s been thirty years since the last time I read that. And now I’ve picked up “The Hunt for Red October” – I haven’t read that book since the weekend that I shacked up with ten snowboarders in a small hotel room in West Virginia during the East Coast Blizzard in March of ’93.
So I’ve been deep into submarines lately, and last night just felt like the right time to pull this movie out. (note: it’s never a bad time to pull this movie out).
The tag line –
On the nuclear submarine USS Alabama, one man has absolute power.
And one man will do anything to stop him.
– is fairly bogus, and way over-simplified. This is NOT a simple movie. It is not formulaic, and it is not going to go the way that you think it will.
It is true that the main plot line of the movie revolves around whether or not the Crimson Tide should fire her nuclear-warhead-tipped ballistic missiles. But the two characters are not enemies; and they are not always at odds.
What this movie seems to be, to my mind, is a litmus test. Litmus paper can tell if a solution is acidic or basic – if it turns red, the solution is acidic; blue, it’s a base. This movie is a litmus test for one’s values and attitudes. You find out what you really think by deciding (as the movie plays out) whether Denzel’s character, or Gene Hackman’s, is doing the right thing.
Circumstances change during the movie, and as they do, we keep being presented with new questions about the same thing. And having to discuss, debate, and decide, over and over again.
(It’s a good idea, if you’re watching this with somebody else, to be prepared to pause it at any time, so that you can discuss what’s going on now, and why they should or should not do this or that. Plan some padding in the time allotted for watching, and leave room at the end for spirited debate. It’s a brain burner).
It’s surprising to me to find out what I actually think; I believe myself to be an introspective sort, but I found myself saying “But wait a minute…” several times during this last watching; did I really think that? Or was I collapsing some of my preconceptions, and hadn’t thought it through?
This all reminds me of watching college football games in which I do not have an actual favorite team; I don’t know who I’m rooting for until I see which way my knees are leaning during each play. If they are leaning in the direction that the running back is going, then I’m for the team on offense – if my knees are leaning in the other direction, then I’m actually rooting for the team on defense.
It’s good to find out what my brain is doing – and often surprising to find out that I don’t know.
* “nothing to do with football” – almost. Extra points for anyone who can point out in the comments the only football reference :)