Arts council presents Cold War thriller ‘K-19: The Widowmaker’

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K-19: The Widowmaker is a 2002 historical submarine film about the first of many disasters facing the Soviet submarine K-19.

The Churchill Arts Council begins its Spring Film Series on Friday at Barkley Theatre, Oats Park Art Center. The box office, Art Bar and galleries open at 6 p.m. with the movie beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets are $7, members; $10 nonmembers. A movie special offers the three movies for $18 members and $27 for nonmembers. Tickets are available at the box office on the night of screening or call CAC at 775-423-1440.

Kathryn Bigelow directed the movie, which stars Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson. The screenplay was adapted by Christopher Kyle, with the story written by Louis Nowra, based on real-life events depicted in a book by Peter Huchthausen. The film is an international co-production between the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Canada.

The story of Soviet Union’s first nuclear ballistic submarine, which suffered a malfunction in its nuclear reactor on its maiden voyage in the North Atlantic in 1961. Led by the unyielding Captain Alexi Vostrikov, the submarine’s crew races against time to prevent a Chernobyl-like nuclear disaster that threatens not only the lives of his crew but has the potential to ignite a world war between the super powers.

“The Widowmaker” nickname was used only in the film. In real life, the submarine had no nickname until the nuclear accident on July 3, 1961, when she got her actual nickname “Hiroshima.”

The late film reviewer Roger Ebert gave the move three stars.

“It is rare for a big-budget Hollywood production to be seen entirely through the eyes of foreigners, and rarer still for actors like Neeson and Ford to spend an entire role with Russian accents,” he wrote. “There isn’t even a token role for an American character, and the movie treats the Soviets not as enemies but as the characters we are expected to identify with; the same approach allowed us to care about the German U-boat crew in ‘Das Boot.’

“Are Ford and Neeson, both so recognizable, convincing as Russians? Convincing enough; we accept the accents after a few minutes, and get on with the story. The fact that both men seem unyielding is crucial, and the fact that Vostrikov may be putting political considerations above the lives of his men adds an additional dimension.”


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