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The Battle of the River Plate U rating

Powell and Pressburger’s biggest commercial success was this rousing retelling of the pursuit of a German battleship by the British Navy during World War II.

War 1956 119 mins

Director: Michael Powell


The biggest commercial success from British cinema’s most revered partnership, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, The Battle of the River Plate is a rousing retelling of the pursuit of German battleship 'Graf Spee' by the British Navy at the outset of World War Two.

The Archers’ expansive and expensive production, filmed in VistaVision in locations such as Montevideo and Malta, was able to call upon the services of two original ships from the actual battle, as well as several further Royal Navy vessels and an American cruiser. Adopting a tone somewhere between the spiky satire of The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and the plainer propaganda of 49th Parallel, the film balances thrilling adventure scenes with a subtle and sympathetic portrayal of the enemy and a considered approach towards the compromises of war.