The Hindenburg


Day eight of my own little Robert Wise Film Festival

Think of The Hindenburg as kind of like Titanic, except without the romance or an interesting story. Both films deal with fictional portrayals of real life disasters involving famous vessels, one at sea, one in the air, but for Titanic to be as bad as The Hindenburg, Captain Smith would have been shown deliberately steering the ship into the iceberg for reasons that would not be adequately explored.

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It’s a good looking film, at least as far as I could tell, giving that the non-anamorphic picture on the DVD looks like it was converted from a 16mm print that spent the last decade in the back room of an elementary school. I’ve seen older movies look better on the Saturday afternoon movie on TV when I was a kid. The production designers did a first-rate job of recreating the look of life inside the Zeppelin. Unfortunately, they forgot to populate the ship with involving characters you could care about. The quality of the cast, including George C. Scott, Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, Burgess Meredith and William Atherton, is top drawer, and their performances make the characters seem richer than the writing deserves. Screenwriter Nelson Gidding, who also worked with director Robert Wise on The Andromeda Strain, doesn’t deliver nearly the same quality script here.

The biggest problem with the story is that the plot involves a change of heart that is both drastic and not apparently motivated. When a character changes so abruptly without the audience being able to understand the why, you kick the legs out from under the suspension of disbelief.

Not to spend any more time than necessary dwelling on this, suffice it to say that The Hindenburg is a below average film with an extremely substandard presentation on DVD. Don’t waste your money.

Goebbels: There is no resistance movement, Colonel!

Ritter: That's reassuring, coming from the Minister of Propoganda.

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