For those in peril on the sea
Judy and I both came reeling out of Greenwich Picture House having had 134 minutes of harassing maritime drama. ‘Captain Phillips’ is a modern day sea thriller filmed on a modern day container ship attacked by Somali pirates along the Horn of Africa. it’s a true story of MV Maersk Alabama – a Dutch owned ship but flying the Stars and Stripes – sailing out of a Gulf sea port packed to the gunnels with containers into the calm but troubled Somali coast en route for Mombasa.
Filmed mostly on board (in the Med off Malta) it portrays a small crew boxed into cramped living conditions at the stern of this massive ship – crewed with a cross section of sea going folk going about their repetitive if not tedious business – an insight indeed not often portrayed. Tom Hanks’ portrayal of Captain Phillips is remarkable – his supporting cast of crew and pirates play out an amazing high tension drama of the hi jacking and inevitable rescue – take your Kwells.
The reality of the isolation of mariners and even lighthouse keepers reminded me of my national service experience on board a troop ship some sixty years ago!! The captain of the Empire Fowey thought that it was his duty to take the ship close inshore to sound out a greeting klaxon to cheer up the light house keeper in his isolation high above us on the Isle of Socotra just where the ‘Alabama’ would have passed. For us it must have pre-echoed the similar crowded conditions on board the US Navy ships which were involved in the film’s dramatic rescue. Go and see the film – it’s a must.
Even more sobering on Sunday 10th November at 10,30 an annual service of remembrance for seafarers will be held on Tower Hill when my good friend Tony Braithwaite – a proud seafarer will lay a wreath at the Merchant Navy memorial high above the Pool of London.