The Blockhouse (1973)

The Blockhouse (1973)
 
 

The Storehouse Prison

Peter Vaughan in The Blockhouse (1973)

Seven men forced by the Nazis to work as labourers on their Guernsey coastal defences run for cover when they come under fire from the allied air force as they look to destroy the defences before they really get built. Running for shelter into a nearby building they end up entombed deep beneath the ground in a storehouse filled with wine and food. Initially overjoyed to be alive and free of the Nazis they soon realise that they are stuck in this cellar which becomes to feel like a claustrophobic prison where they have little to do except die slowly from boredom.

"The Blockhouse" is based on a reportedly true story about two German soldiers who claimed that they along with 4 other soldiers had been trapped in a storehouse in Poland for 6 years. I don't whether the story on which "The Blockhouse" is based has been proved to be true or false but it certainly makes for a fascinating movie with so many different angles which it covers, far too many to go in to detail in this review. As such I will say now I recommend you watch this and discover the ins and outs of it for yourself.

Charles Aznavour in The Blockhouse (1973)

But for those who want to know more we basically experience how these men dealt with being in this storehouse prison. We see how one of the men works out a way for them to measure time by counting his heart beats and watching a candle burn. We see another trying to break through a sealed duct, something one thinks is foolish whilst another understands he has nothing else to do. We also see how one expects the Germans to come and rescue them whilst with no daylight people's body clocks quickly get messed up and they lose track of days. But of course we see how tension between them builds as the claustrophobic nature causes some to go stir crazy.

I could go on because "The Blockhouse" is full of depth and even though it feels like it ends up drawing things out it is no less entertaining. What is even more entertaining is the choice of cast because to be frank I would never have chosen Peter Sellers, Charles Aznavour and Peter Vaughan for this sort of movie as it robs them of their natural playing ground with them playing against type. But these three and all the cast do a good job of getting across the issues of their unusual imprisonment and the emotions it causes.

What this all boils down to is that "The Blockhouse" is surprisingly riveting stuff with an interesting idea that is nicely explored. The one issues for me is that whilst I am not a fan of fussy direction the complete lack of fussiness in this leaves it feeling like it is lacking that extra something to make you want to watch it more than once.

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