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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Funnel Fraud





The most dismal attempt by a film distributor to cash-in on this year's Titanic centenary must be from the producers of the UK DVD for the film The Crimson Ocean.

Firstly, its not a real film at all but an edited down version of German TV series Die Gustloff which tells the tragic story of the liner the Wilhelm Gustloff which, at the end of World War 2, was evacuating wounded soldiers and civilians from Danzig ahead of the Russian army.  The ship was torpedoed by Russian submarine S-13 and sank with the loss of 9,000 people, making it the biggest loss of life for any marine disaster.

We saw the cover of this DVD in our local Sainsburys supermarket, where it had a respectable position in the charts.  It makes you wonder how it achieved this, given its origin as a German TV show about an incident that hardly anyone in the UK has heard of.




What really caught Triple P's eye, though, was the cover of a typical pre-WW1 design four funnel liner.  We naturally assumed it must be a film about the Lusitania, given the submarine in the foreground, but then we noticed the World War 2 period aircraft.  Obviously, the Wilhelm Gustloff must have been a similar looking liner from the same period, we reasoned.  Agent Triple P is quite knowledgeable about liners from this period, however, and we had never heard of it.  A little research turned up the answer.  The Wilhelm Gustloff was actually, at the time, a modern liner having been launched in 1937 as a ship to provide holidays and activities for Nazi trade unionists.  With the coming of the war it was used as a troop ship, a hospital ship and an accommodation ship. The key thing about her was that she had just the one funnel.  She looked nothing like the ship on the cover of the DVD as this shot of the (rather well done) digital ship from the TV series shows.


The Wilhelm Gustloff in 1938


So, the producers of the DVD have completely ignored the original look of the vessel to produce a picture  for the cover based on the look of the Titanic in order to shift more copies.  It's not difficult to find pictures of the Gustloff online so this must have been quite deliberate on their part.  Annoying!

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