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original title: Britannic
duration: 1h 33min
tags: They Never Thought It Would Happen Again
keywords: ship, titanic, weapon, torpedo, secretservice, germanspy, falseidentity, spy, nanny, year1916, irishrebellion, voiceovernarration, underwaterscene, uboat, titanicsurvivor, suspicion, strangulation, st
This brings us to the 2000 made-for-TV movie. Overall, it provided an enjoyable evening's entertainment. It wasn't until near the climax that some disturbing anachronisms and very unlikely character behaviors began to seriously take away from my enjoyment.
The film features Amanda Ryan as governess/British intelligence agent Vera Campbell, along with would-be chaplain/German intelligence agent/saboteur Father Reynolds (Edward Atterton). Jacqueline Bisset, as an aging and infirm aristocratic English matron, is the only big name in the cast-and her role is somewhat small. The cast is solid, though, also including John Rhys-Davies as Captain Barrett and Ben Daniels as First Officer Townsend.
There is certainly plenty of room for speculation with the Britannic story. Did it hit a mine? Was it torpedoed? Was an internal explosion the primary (or a secondary) cause of the sinking? If so, was it intentional? Was the hospital ship carrying contraband troops (as the real-life Germans seemed to believe) or a cache of weapons (as the movie Germans rightly believed)? These are all fair questions and any halfway feasible explanation is about as good as another. Therefore I had no trouble with the basic premise of a German spy on board and a German U-boat being involved-although the film shows the U-boat failing to sink the ship and then being destroyed by a British warship-something that did not happen.
Other than the tiresome, ever-present presence of a 1990s feminist, EXPECTING 1990s treatment (and thoroughly surprised and outraged when her male antagonists act basically as they would have in 1916 instead of 2000), the film has a few other anachronisms. For one, Atterton and Major Baker (Bruce Payne), the ship's doctor, glibly discuss the explosive dangers of coal dust in the bunkers. I could be wrong, but hasn't this phenomenon been discovered only in the past 25 or so years? Secondly, this IS 1916. Whatever Vera Campbell's morals, her sudden and uninvited (at least expressly uninvited) return to Reynold's cabin where she immediately began disrobing without a word is quite a stretch! Not having figured out his ulterior plans, she still thought he was a minister. True, they were beginning to be very attracted to each other. Yes, they had shared a steamy kiss a short while before. In 2000, perhaps the woman returning and diving into the man's bed would be a feasible occurrence. But with a MINISTER, in 1916? Not that the two of them COULDN'T have gotten together during the movie