Sea of Sand (Desert Patrol) Reviews
It's one of these raids that is the subject of 'Sea of Sand', in which an L.R.D.G group has been ordered to blow up a fuel dump (a common target) in preparation for the forthcoming Battle at El Alamein. The raid is part of many other such raids being carried out at the time across North Africa and Captain Williams (John Gregson) and Captain Cotton (Michael Craig) are tasked to lead the men (which a young Richard Attenborough) into the desert.
There is little in the way of surprise in 'Sea of Sand', as it plays out pretty much in a very ordinary way, which is par the course for a British war film from 1958. There are no spectacular battle scenes and very little other action too, but this is actually one of the films strengths and fitting too for a movie about an outfit who's moto was "Not by strength, by Guile." In short, it all feels quite realistic, for the most part anyway. The equipment, at least for the British, passes for real (except that they use Sten SMG's rather than Lee Enfield rifles). Efforts were made to get the famous 30 ton Chevrolet trucks, or vehicles as close as possible, which makes for a more believable experience. The Chevy's are really the star of the film and anyone who knows anything about the L.R.D.G will know what I mean. Unfortunately, the poor Germans have to make do with American Half-Tracks (painted with absurdly oversized crosses) and disappointingly they use Sten guns too. All in all though, these drawbacks tend not to interfere with the film too much, but was it really that difficult to get hold of Mausers or MP40's?
There are several scenes that are quite powerful in 'Sea of Sand', including a brilliantly handled minefield clearing scene and a genuinely moving piece between best mates, "Blanco" (Percy Herbert) and Brody (Richard Attenborough).
The men of the L.R.D.G are presented as sand bitten disheveled types and unsuited to the army, which is an indication that the film-makers were listening to the technical advice of W. B. Kennedy Shaw, who served as an intelligence officer with the real L.R.D.G. That is not to say that is no stereotyping or cliché on offer in 'Sea of Sand', there is. But, for the majority of the film it's kept to a minimum. It's really only in the last 20 minutes that the film goes down the usual well worn paths (even for 1958). Also, one gets the impression that the film-makers were at a loss on how to actually end their film, which is evident in the speed of the final scene.
For people who are interested though, 'Sea of Sand' offers a nice little window onto a subject that was rarely handled in the war movie genre. I can think of only one other film that deals with the subject, that was 1968's 'Play Dirty', which presents are more realistic and more cynical view of war and people in general. Both films have the strengths and weaknesses though and if you can look past those in 'Sea of Sand', you'll have a pleasant 94+ minutes.
(1958) Sea Of Sand
A film that is dedicated to the British Army in particular the Eight Division also known as "The Long Range Desert Group" a story centering on a suicide mission regarding a small group of commandoes about 10 having to go across the deserts of Africa to destroy one of Rommel's major fuel supplies and then return back to base. On the first half of the movie contains plenty of babble as the commandoes coverse with each another to the most boring effect that at times making it almost unbearable to watch before and after the mission is completed.
2 out of 4