are a subgenre of war film
which takes place in a submarine
below the surface of the ocean. Films of this subgenre typically focus on a small but determined crew of submariners battling against enemy submarines or submarine-hunter ships, or against other problems ranging from disputes amongst the crew, threats of mutiny, or life-threatening mechanical breakdowns.
The danger from the extreme pressure of deep water dives and the claustrophobic, cramped submarine quarters imbues films of the subgenre with a great deal of dramatic tension. To heighten this tension these films often depict submarine commanders descending below "hull crush depth" to evade attackers. Films from this subgenre tend to feature dramatic scenes in which submarine-hunters try to destroy submarines with depth charges. A stock scene in the submarine genre film is the depiction of a grim-faced submarine crew waiting in silence as depth charges explode overhead and bolts fly out of bulkheads in the submarine (they are dead silent because sound carries extremely well underwater, and so even the sound of men talking on a submarine would be picked up by normal sonar on other ships). Modern (post-World War II) movies often add conflict between different submarines, something that would have been next to impossible with the limited sensor equipment of earlier times.
Also a typical feature in all depicted eras is the sudden switch from hunter to hunted - while stalking enemy ships or carrying deadly nuclear missiles, the submarine often becomes, within moments, the hunted victim of overwhelming attack, fleeing for its life.
While submarine films do use dramatic battle scenes, much of the dramatic tension in these movies tends to be created using other devices, such as conflict between officers, a threatened mutiny, or life-threatening problems with the diving equipment or the engines/nuclear reactor. This sets this subgenre apart from its parent genre of war films, which tend to focus more on battle scenes.
List of submarine movies
This is a list of movies, grouped by era, in which a submarine plays a significant role in the storyline. Many submarine movies are set in World War II or during Cold War, with varying degrees of fictional elements. Some movies depict historical events from actual battles or incidents, such as Above Us the Waves, a 1955 film which depicts the true story of the British Royal Navy's midget submarines attacks on the Tirpitz. Other submarine movies develop a fictional plot created using submarine types and tactical or technological issues that are associated with these conflicts, such as the film U-571, which tells the story of a fictional U-boat in World War II; in some cases, these fictional submarine films may weave together some events from actual events. Other submarine films from the fantasy or science fiction film genres depict entirely fictitious events, such as the various film versions of Jules Verne's novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
pre-World War II
World War II
- The Atomic Submarine 1959 — a fictional USS Tiger Shark
- The Bedford Incident 1965
- Crimson Tide 1995 — USS Alabama
- Down Periscope 1996 — a fictional USS Stingray (SS-161) (comedy)
- The Fifth Missile 1986 — a fictional USS Montana
- Full Fathom Five 1990 — a fictional USS Aspen versus the "Alpha Victor Three class submarine CCCP Kirov"
- Gray Lady Down 1978 — a fictional USS Neptune
- Hostile Waters 1997 — K-219
- The Hunt for Red October 1990 — a fictional Red October (Красный Октябрь), USS Dallas (SSN-700)
- Hell and High Water 1954 — a World War II surplus Japanese submarine
- Ice Station Zebra 1968 — a fictional USS Tigerfish (SS-509) (In the novel: USS Dolphin)
- K-19: The Widowmaker 2002 — K-19
- Murphy's War 1971
- On the Beach 1959, 2000 — a fictional USS Sawfish
- Phantom Below
- Phantom, the Submarine 1999 — Korea's first nuclear submarine
- The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming 1966 — a fictional Soviet submarine Спрут (comedy)
- Silent Service 1995 — Japan's first nuclear powered submarine (anime)
- The Spy Who Loved Me — 1977 American, British and Soviet submarines
- Sub Down: Take the Dive 1997
- Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea 1961 — a fictional USOS Seaview (science fiction/fantasy)
- Danger Beneath the Sea 2001
- Goldmember 2002, (Dr. Evil's submarine-lair, shaped in Dr Evil's image, driven by his moving feet, the frontal part is shaped like Dr Evil's face with extended finger of one hand with bent arm, resting on lip, in his trademark habit - also, a vent in the upper hull visibly and audibly farts underwater as submarine travels past the film screen); third in the series of Austin Powers comedy spoofs''
Future or Fantastic Past
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea 1907, 1916, 1954, 1997, Hallmark, 1997, Village Roadshow — Jules Verne's fictional Nautilus (science fiction/fantasy)
- Atragon 1963 — the fictional Gotengo, a triphibian super sub capable of flying and digging in addition to underwater travel (anime)
- Yellow Submarine 1968 — (psychedelic fantasy)
- Captain Nemo and the Underwater City 1969 — Jules Verne's fictional Nautilus (science fiction/fantasy)
- The Neptune Factor 1973 — undersea rescue (science fiction)
- The Return of Captain Nemo 1978 — Jules Verne's fictional Nautilus (science fiction/fantasy)
- Thundersub 1979 — (anime)
- The Abyss 1989 — a fictional USS Montana (science fiction/fantasy)
- Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water 1989 — Jules Verne's fictional Nautilus (anime)
- Blue Submarine No. 6 1998 — (anime)
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 2003 — Jules Verne's fictional Nautilus (fantasy)
- Submarine 707R 2004 — (anime)
- Lorelei: The Witch of the Pacific Ocean 2005 — (World War 2, Science Fiction)
- Tide-Line Blue 2005 — (anime)
- Super Atragon 19??; — (anime) The fictional undersea battleship Ra, another triphibian super sub capable of flying and digging in addition to underwater travel, and also the last line of defense of the Earth against the subterranean humans who are bent on destroying human civilization.