Spoilers Alert: “The Hunt” director Thomas Vinterberg tells in KURSK about the tragedy surrounding the submarine of the same name, which in the summer of 2000 not only became the scene of an ice-cold fight for survival, but also of political power games of the worst kind. We reveal more about the film in our review.
Commodore David Russell (Colin Firth) tries to help.
The plot summary
On August 10, 2000, the Russian submarine K-141 Kursk left for a Russian Northern Fleet maneuver in the Barents Sea. There are 118 crew members on board. On the second day of the exercise, a disaster occurs when a torpedo explodes on board. The Kursk suffers severe damage and sinks to the seabed. Only 23 men survive and can escape to a safe section of the submarine, including Lieutenant Commander Mikhail Kalekov (Matthias Schoenaerts). For reasons of prestige and fear of espionage, the Russian government initially refused any international help. The relatives were also left in the dark about the extent of the disaster for a long time. The women, especially Tanya (Léa Seydoux), Officer Kalekov’s wife, desperately demand clarification, but in vain. The British Commodore David Russel (Colin Firth) personally offers his support to the Russian Admiral Gruzinsky (Peter Simonischek). But the Russians remain stubborn. And time is running out for the survivors…
Kursk Movie Meaning & ending
If you wanted to be a little cynical, you could almost say it’s lucky that the Danish author and director Thomas Vinterberg (“The Hunt“) regularly delights critics, but his films usually don’t reach the masses. Otherwise, we could imagine what would happen to his latest work, Kursk, a treatment of a tragic submarine accident off the Russian coast in 2000 based on the novel A Time To Die; namely a similar fate to a brand new series tip. Shortly after the acclaimed broadcast of the five-part HBO disaster drama “Chernobyl,” it became known that Russian state television had commissioned its own TV series to describe the reactor disaster from its own perspective. Among other things, with a CIA spy as the central protagonist. A similar fate could certainly have happened to “Kursk” if there had been greater interest. Thomas Vinterberg stages the sinking of the nuclear submarine of the same name and the associated political power games as a shocking indictment of the Russian government’s prevailing understanding of values at the time and – who would have thought – the country fares anything but well. Here and there, Vinterberg puts a lot of pressure on the tear duct and the filmmaker, who was born in Copenhagen in 1969, does not always manage to create a narrative connection between political circus and human drama. On the whole, “Kursk” is really exciting, especially because the conflicts discussed here are shockingly timeless.
The men set out to sea, not knowing what awaits them…
Even if “Kursk” can best be described as “suitable for the masses” compared to Vinterberg’s previous films – the US poster alone is more reminiscent of a new edition of “The Hunt for Red October” than of a bitter disaster drama – the same applies here In all other Vinterberg works, the focus is primarily on the characters. And the character of Lieutenant Commander Mikhail Kalekov, played by Matthias Schoenaerts (“The Taste of Rust and Bones”), is particularly special. In contrast to his colleagues, he is the only one given a private background in the form of Ms. Tanya, whose perspective is repeatedly referred to throughout the film. At the beginning of “Kursk” we also attend a wedding ceremony where the sailors can be seen with their private entourage. But only Léa Seydoux (“Simply the End of the World”) receives more than a mere appendage profile. Thanks to her Tanya, we get the opportunity to witness the events surrounding the Kursk rescue from the position of relatives. The film shows us the emotional destruction at the news that the husband we just married didn’t make it or the omnipresent joy when, contrary to all expectations, there is still a sign of life from the sailors, the film shows us very close to the families and then again only through them by Tanya, from whose circumstantial passivity Seydoux extracts the greatest possible commitment. She is primarily a person who processes information from the outside and keeps running into closed doors in her eagerness to find out more about the situation. All the helplessness due to the failed rescue situation accumulates in her figure. This is often very disheartening.
In addition to Tanya’s setting, the plot of “Kursk” is divided into two others. While the sailors, some of whom are injured, fight for survival inside the submarine, a political power struggle is taking place many thousands of meters above them, which has a significant influence on events. It is hardly possible to determine which part of the plot is more successful. Only Vinterberg never quite manages to reconcile the two until the end; And if you also take Tanya’s perspective into account, you get the feeling here and there that Vinterberg has gone a bit overboard with so many different locations and topics. The conflicts discussed here are all deeply moving in their own right. In particular, Vinterberg cleverly stages the men’s fight for survival with the help of his cameraman Anthony Dot Mandle (“T2: Trainspotting”), far away from standardized oppression. Contrary to custom, he makes the best possible use of the screen for the scenes in the submarine and chooses a square image format for the few moments on land, which only fully adapts to the screen at the moment when the ship sets sail. This game with contradiction suits the film well. After all, anyone can create anxiety simply by continually restricting their field of vision. As it is, Dot Mandle primarily plays with brightness and darkness as he turns the opaque construction of such a nuclear submarine into the ultimate labyrinth. At night at the latest you can hardly find your way around here.
Watching how the mood among colleagues gradually changes and how the balance of power sometimes even shifts is both extremely exciting and dramatic – not least thanks to the excellent ensemble, in which two actors particularly stand out for very different reasons. Matthias Schoenaerts gives a performance that is both suffering and always hopeful, whose encouragement to his colleagues is as inspiring as it is fascinating, while Matthias Schweighöfer (“100 Things”) Not only presented in a completely different color than usual. In the USA version, he proves above all that he is one of very few USA actors able to synchronize himself. There is no difference between the USA-acting Schweighöfer and the self-synchronizing Schweighöfer. The conditions under water are contrasted by the government’s decidedly emotionally cold calculation of balancing political interests and concern for its soldiers. This inevitably brings out a lot of anger; especially because we know that all of this actually happened here. And so you automatically cling to the highly charismatic Brit Colin Firth (“Kingsman: The Secret Service”) embodied by Commodore David Russell, who in the hands of a less capable actor could quickly have gone from being a figure of sympathy and hope to being a British propaganda figure. As it is, he at least guides you through the inhumanity that prevails here, but in the end he fails in his plan, just as Thomas Vinterberg did in foregoing pathos and kitsch. As devastating and moving as the last ten minutes of “Kursk” may be, they contrast greatly with the previously so emphatically documentary production. Just as if the director and his screenwriter Robert Rodat (“The Patriot”) Don’t trust that the events here speak very well for themselves.
Kursk (2018) Ending Explained & Review
“Kursk is a film directed by Tom Vansant and released in 2018. The film is a cinematic adaptation of real events that happened in 2000 with the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk. The main action of the film describes the attempts to rescue the crew after a torpedo explosion during a training exercise.
The plot unfolds in two planes: on board the submarine, where the crew is fighting for survival, and on land, where relatives and authorities are trying to carry out rescue operations. The ending of the movie offers a certain conclusion and impression for the viewer.
Without spoilers, it is difficult to provide specific details about the ending, but in general, the film seeks to show the tragedy, the heroism of the crew, and the reaction of the authorities to the events. It is important to emphasize how the government responds to the crisis and how it cooperates with other countries to solve the problem.
If you have specific questions or would like to know more about certain aspects of the film, please be specific.
At the end of the movie Kursk, a real-life tragedy that happened to the submarine Kursk leads to the failure of the rescue attempts and the death of the crew. The main theme of the film is not only the technical malfunction and the failure of the rescue operation, but also the relations between Russia and the West, as well as the bureaucratic obstacles that complicate cooperation and rescue.
The ending emphasizes the failure of the system, which leads to the loss of lives both during the rescue effort and in the context of relations between the countries. The film also raises questions about how different countries respond to crises and how bureaucracy and politics can affect the actual chances of rescue.
Thus, the ending of Kursk leaves the viewer with a reflection on the tragedy, bureaucracy and international relations that led to the death of the submarine crew.
Conclusion: Thomas Vinterberg tells the story of the accident that actually occurred on the nuclear submarine “Kursk” in 2000 from three perspectives. Every single one of them is touching, shocking and thrilling. The documentary production also gives the whole thing something oppressively close. But unfortunately the feeling of a coherent whole is missing.
“Kursk” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from July 11th.