The Hindenburg Reviews
Now, the good part- that ship done blow up real good. Robert Wise (whom normally was a great musical director) really expertly and neatly mixed special effects shots with real newsreel footage and the infamous radio broadcast ("Oh the humanity!) with all the real life stories (such as the circus performer who used his aerobatic skills to shimmy and jump from the burning ship)... but that's kind of it. The interpersonal stories before hand are pretty glossed over and broadly told and you care about few people on board. There's a random- but fun- anti Nazi song performed on board by the composer and circus performer and a neat sequence where we see St. Elmo's Fire.
But there's no plot- even the conspiracy aboard is not really a plot even though you REALLY want to know more about the dude planting the bomb and his girlfriend back home who got arrested by the SS it's so glossed over you are saddened it's even there in the first place.
The Hindenburg stars the esteemed talents of George C. Scott, Anne Bancroft, and even Burgess Meredith. One can always trust stars like these to give smart and well-crafted performances. Unfortunately, the script doesn't really give them much to work with. As a result, they spend most of the film trying to convince the audience and themselves that they care about a story that they very obviously do not care about. Even George C. Scott, one of the most respected an diligent actors in the history of film, seems unsure of how he's suppose to feel about most of what's happening around him and how much he's suppose to care. As a result, the audience isn't sure how much to care.
The first thing a person going in to see this film is going to need to know is that this film is based on a book that deals with the theory that the Hindenburg was destroyed as a case of sabotage. Some people are going to be turned away immediately since there has never been any historical evidence of actual sabotage in regards to the Hindenburg disaster. Others will simply shrug and say "Oh, well. Let's see what they got." The latter category of people will probably be disappointed.
I will say this for the film, however; in spite of all its faults (and there are plenty of them), it handles the destruction of the Hindenburg surprisingly well. The scene is nicely edited, the sound-work is in good form, and they director and crew do a fair job of mixing in their footage of the film with the actual footage from the 1937 newsreel. This is not an easy task for a film made in the 1970s. If only the rest of the film had been handled with such a delicate dedication to the craft.
In short, The Hindenburg is, primarily, a disappointment. The film simply lacks the dramatic punch it needed in order to sell itself as a film. As a result, the audience cares neither about the characters or the plot itself and are left merely counting down the minutes to the airship's fiery demise.
Synopsis: This thriller fictionalizes the events leading up to the fiery 1937 zeppelin crash. When German intelligence officer Col. Franz Ritter boards the doomed blimp to foil a conspiracy to blow it up, he has a long list of suspects, including an entrepreneur, a singer, a countess and a host of other shady characters.
It's an impressive production visually. The special effects are as subtle as one would need and are no holds barred gorgeous, especially aerial shots of the giant balloon cutting through the pink and white clouds of a bright blue-skyed day. The sets hold up just as well, and provide it's audience with at least a sense of escapism within the context of dinner.
But not much is anywhere near as interesting as it's visual elements, the film is simply a bore. The acting is wooden and Ursula von Reugen's performance is incredibly archetypal. The script often resorts to referencing other (more accepted) proposed causes of the real disaster, since it doesn't really have anything else to say.
Though definitely watchable, The Hindenburg's best parts are the disaster footage poorly edited into the picture itself.