The role of the submarine commander
One of the most vivid childhood memories I can recall is going to the drive-in movies. There was something special about the huge screen against a starlit sky. The Technicolor images had a hypnotic effect on me and I found the motion pictures that were filmed outdoors and on location to be my favorites.
The sands of the desert or the expanses of the ocean captured my imagination. Westerns, spectacles and films about the Foreign Legion as well as ancient war galleys, Viking raiders, fighting sail and mechanized naval warfare kept me mesmerized.
Of all the naval combat films I suppose the submarine genre has had the most profound effect on me . The aspect of underwater warfare seems both fascinating and frightening.
I recently watched U-571 from my DVD collection. The film is set in the North Atlantic and even though I prefer the Pacific theater for submarine movies the fast-moving plot and abundance of action make it a disc that can be watched more than once.
Throughout the movie the main character struggles with his desire to be a captain and possible indecision in facing a situation that demanded sacrificing a crew-member.
The main character is left in command when the captain is killed and in a memorable scene the boatswain’s mate tells him that he should never say the words, “I don’t know,” in front of the crew. He is the captain and he knows even if he doesn’t know.
As I move into the second draft of the Prologue of the first book in the trilogy I’m starting to see the plot and characters as the crew of a submarine that I’m in command of. Their very existence is in my hands and my decisions bend and shape them. This seems to be a useful motivational technique at this time.