Why the Atomic Submarine Did Not Rock My World


Spoiler Alert!
I just watched a film called, The Atomic Submarine produced in the late 50s. I've taken a liking to these old films. I'm not sure what it is that draws me to them; it's something I've been interested in for many years. Yet, on the other, I always feel disappointed when I watch them.

If you see enough, a pattern starts to develop. You've got the egghead scientists who figure out ways to kill the alien monsters. You've got the military men who figure out ways to kill the monsters. You've got cute women who keep saying they could kill monsters too.

I said I liked the movies. I didn't say they were mature.

The Atomic Submarine like most action movies follow a simple formula. There is a problem, complications and a resolution. It's fun to watch. I don't mind the low-budget special effects. In fact, it makes it all the better for me because I want to enjoy the story.



But that's where everything goes awry. The story. It's usually lame. Don't get me wrong, the set up is just fantastic. It's cool in the way everything falls in line. I don't care if the physics isn't perfect either; that just makes the story more innocent to me. What I don't like is the lack of humanity. 

Now people who watch these films will probably say: "It's not literature, it's just a Drive-In movie." No one wants to think about life, people or anything profound either. But I'm not exactly asking for anything profound. I would just like to see something in one of these films where someone grows as a human being or just has some kind of emotional experience that's relevant to me. 

I want to make an emotional connection to the film as much as a social one.

The notion of getting into an atomic submarine and hunting down some alien in the Arctic is just way cool. Again, I don't need the special effects. Just the story is enough for me. But, treat me like a human being, turn it into a human journey. It doesn't have to poetry or anything, but put something there that's relevant. What I'm trying to say is that this emotional component is necessary for a good movie even if its'a  B-movie Drive In.

Point of View is Everything He Says. Sheesh.
One character in The Atomic Submarine is Dr. Carl Nielsen Jr., a pacifist. His father was a solider and one of his buddies, was the Lieutenant Commander Richard Reef Holloway. He doesn't take much of a liking to Carl or his peacenik views against his father. So, a conflict ensues when the men have to a share a bunk. At the end of the film, Carl seems to be glad we have weapons of war after all. That's right. The pacifist grew as a person because now he knew that weapons of war were necessary with big giant monsters that wanted to destroy all of mankind.

Wow. I thought. Was that the little bit of theme I was supposed to gleam from this B-Movie? Again, I do get it. These films aren't supposed to be deep. But remember, I'm not saying deep, I'm saying human. I'm saying something that is relevant to the human experience. Maybe they hoped the alien would make peace with them, but then it turned into something nasty. So, the film was about trust and vulnerability. Something. Anything. That. Is. Human.

I like action movies, but I've got a heart. There is always room for a story. There is always room to be human. Trust me, the screenwriters want it too. But these action films seem more plot heavy which in turn makes them rely on special effects to work. Believe it or not, The Atomic Submarine was probably a huge special effects movie for its time.

I felt the same way when I started reading comic books again. I loved the art work, but I was yearning for stories that meant something. I wanted to make a connection of some kind. That's what stories do. We're all human. We all have similar life lessons to learn. We all have similar experiences. We all find life to be important in similar ways.

They're called universals for a reason. Ah well, I will keep watching my B-Movies, but feel free to leave some suggestions for some good ones in the comment box below.


View the trailer for The Atomic Submarine

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