Crimson Tide is a 1995 American submarine film directed by Tony Scott, produced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. It takes place during a period of political turmoil in the Russian Federation, in which ultranationaliststhreaten to launch nuclear missiles at the United States and Japan. It focuses on a clash of wills between the newexecutive officer (Denzel Washington) and the seasoned commanding officer (Gene Hackman) of a nuclear missile submarine, arising from conflicting interpretations of an order to launch their missiles.

The film was scored by Hans Zimmer, who won a Grammy Award for the main theme, which makes heavy use of synthesizers in place of traditional orchestral instruments.


 [hide*1 Plot


In post-Soviet Russia civil war erupts as a result of the ongoing conflict in Chechnya. Military units loyal to Vladimir Radchenko, a Russian ultra-nationalist, have taken control of a nuclear missile installation and are threatening nuclear war if either the American or Russian governments attempt to confront him.

US Navy nuclear submarine, the USS Alabama, is assigned to a patrol mission to be available to launch its missiles in a pre-emptive strike if Radchenko attempts to fuel his missiles. Captain Frank Ramsey (Hackman) is the commanding officer of the sub, one of few commanders left in the US Navy with combat experience. He chooses as his new executive officer (XO) Lieutenant Commander Ron Hunter (Washington), who has an extensive education in military history and tactics, but no combat experience.

During their initial days at sea tension between Ramsey and Hunter becomes apparent due to a clash of personalities: Hunter's more analytical, cautious approach, as opposed to Ramsey's more impulsive and intuitive approach. TheAlabama eventually receives an Emergency Action Message, ordering the launch of ten of its missiles against the Russian nuclear installation, based on satellite information that the Russians' missiles are being fuelled. Before theAlabama can launch its missiles, a second radio message begins to be received, but is cut off by the attack of a RussianAkula-class submarine loyal to Radchenko.

The radio electronics are damaged in the attack and cannot be used to decode the second message. With the last confirmed order being to launch Captain Ramsey decides to proceed. Hunter refuses to concur as is procedurally required because he believes the partial second message may be a retraction. Hunter argues that theAlabama is not the only American submarine in the area, and if the order is not retracted, other submarines will launch their missiles as part of the fleet's standard redundancy doctrine. Ramsey argues that the other American submarines may have been destroyed.

When Hunter refuses to consent Ramsey tries to relieve him of duty and replace him with a different officer. Instead Hunter orders the arrest of Ramsey for attempting to circumvent protocol. The crew's loyalty is divided between Hunter and Ramsey but Hunter initially takes command. The Alabama is attacked again by the Russian submarine. The Alabama destroys it but during the ensuring chaos a counter-mutiny ensues and Ramsey retakes the bridge.

Hunter escapes his arrest and gains the support of the weapons officer in the missile control room further delaying the launch. Other crew members try to repair the radio while the battle for command continues. Eventually Ramsey traps Hunter on the bridge thus quelling all mutinous actions, but with the radio team reporting they are near success, the two men agree to a compromise; they will wait until the deadline to see if the radio can be repaired.

After several tense minutes communications are restored and they finally see the full message from the second transmission. It is a retraction ordering that the missile launch be aborted because Radchenko's rebellion has been quelled. After returning to base Ramsey and Hunter are put before a naval tribunal to answer for their actions. The tribunal concludes that both men were simultaneously right and wrong so Hunter's actions were lawfully justified.

Unofficially the tribunal chastises both men for failing to resolve the issues between them. Thanks to Ramsey's personal recommendation the tribunal agrees to grant Hunter command of his own sub while allowing Ramsey to save face via an early retirement. Both men then reconcile their differences and part ways.



Hans Zimmer - "Roll Tide"

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The score for Crimson Tide was composed by Hans Zimmer, and employs a blend of orchestrachoir andsynthesizer sounds. It includes additional music by Nick Glennie-Smith and the music was conducted by Harry Gregson-Williams. Within the score is the well-known naval hymn, "Eternal Father, Strong to Save". The score won a Grammy Award in 1996, and has been described by Zimmer as one of his personal favorites.[3]

The film has uncredited additional writing by Quentin Tarantino, much of it being the pop-culture reference-laden dialogue.[4][5]

The U.S. Navy objected to many of the elements in the script—particularly the aspect of mutiny on board a U.S. naval vessel—and as such, the film was produced without the assistance of the U.S. Navy.[6] The French Navy (Marine Nationale) assisted the team for production with the French aircraft carrier Foch and one SNLE.

Because of the Navy's refusal to cooperate with the filming, the production company was unable to secure footage of a submarine submerging. After checking to make sure there was no law against filming naval vessels, the producers waited at the submarine base at Pearl Harbor until a submarine put to sea. After a submarine left port, they pursued it in a boat and helicopter, filming as they went. They continued to do so until it submerged, giving them the footage they needed to incorporate into the film.


Box office[edit]Edit

Crimson Tide earned $18.6 million in the United States on its opening weekend, which ranked #1 for all films released that week. Overall, it earned $91 million in the U.S. and an additional $66 million internationally, for a total of $157.3 million.[7]

Critical reception[edit]Edit

The film received mostly positive reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 87% of 46 critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 7.5 out of 10.[8] A number of critics cited Hackman and Washington's performances, and enjoyed the film's snappy, pop culture inflected dialogue.

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote, "This is the rare kind of war movie that not only thrills people while they're watching it, but invites them to leave the theater actually discussing the issues,"[9] and Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, "Crimson Tide has everything you could want from an action thriller and a few other things you usually can't hope to expect."[10]

Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly wrote that, "what makes Crimson Tide a riveting pop drama is the way the conflict comes to the fore in the battle between two men. ... The end of the world may be around the corner, but what holds us is the sight of two superlatively fierce actors working at the top of their game."[11]

In contrast, Janet Maslin of The New York Times criticized the film's "blowhardiness" and superficial treatment of apocalyptic fears. She noted that there is "... something awfully satisfying about the throbbing missiles and cathartic explosions that constitute this film's main excitement," but felt that "... nothing else here delivers a comparable thrill."[12]


Crimson Tide was nominated for three Academy Awards, for Editing, Sound (Kevin O'ConnellRick KlineGregory H. Watkins and William B. Kaplan) and Sound Editing (George Watters II).[7][13]

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