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K-19: THE WIDOWMAKER

About The Production
According to director/producer Kathryn Bigelow, the story of what happened to K-19 and her crew had everything an action-thriller needed built right into the actual events as they took place during the Cold War. And, since that war was fought on a mental battlefield rather than a physical one, the film, drawn from public sources and historical record, is that much more intriguing and unique.

"The story had all the elements for a dramatic movie,” says Bigelow, who went to Russia prior to filming to talk with K-19's survivors and their families. "It had a built-in ‘ticking clock' suspense factor; that is, a nuclear submarine with an impending reactor meltdown that could cause catastrophic global repercussions. It had, at its center, a ferociously dedicated and charismatic captain, whose bold decisions under pressure saved the boat and its crew. And above all, it had the courageous young submariners themselves, who knowingly subjected themselves to a lethal dose of radiation to repair the damage and fend off disaster.”

Caught up in making "K-19: The Widowmaker” for five years, Bigelow says that she feels privileged to have conducted extensive research with the people whose lives were touched by the K-19 disaster, and she was inspired by their stories to make a film that shows their compelling sacrifice and humanity.

"Our film examines the heroism, courage and prowess of the Soviet submarine force in ways never seen before,” adds Bigelow. "It is a fascinating tale of ordinary people who became heroes when faced with a tragic situation. Capturing the nobility of their sacrifice has been the primary motivation for everyone involved in making this film.”

Approximately 50 actors were assembled to portray the crew of K-19 and the Soviet military leaders. In order to show faces reflective of the diverse nationalities that made up the Soviet Union, Bigelow drew on talent from Canada, Iceland, England, Russia and Hollywood, making the cast uniquely international.

According to Harrison Ford, who stars as Captain Alexei Vostrikov, a character inspired by an actual Captain aboard K-19, what initially interested him in the project is that it depicts the Russian experience during the Cold War, something that he believes Hollywood has never seen.

"There are no good guys versus bad guys in this story, no politics,” says Ford. "Our goal was to have audiences come to an appreciation of those who served on K-19. As in any group, there were all kinds of people on board. But when threatened with a terrible situation, they came together with heroic and selfless behavior. When the time came, they did their duty.”

Co-star Liam Neeson, who plays Mikhail Polenin, a character inspired by the acting Executive Officer of K-19, agrees, adding that "K-19” afforded the cast an opportunity to portray heroism in a timeless way.

"There are great human dynamics in this story,” says Neeson. "Under incredible stress, faced with death, these men summon a sense of duty and commitment to each other and to all of humanity.”

"K-19: The Widowmaker” was filmed in Moscow during February of 2001. Happily, however, because of the post-Cold War thaw in Russian-American relations, the production team was allowed access to film inside government buildings and public spaces, with cooperation from Russian authorities and assistance from the country's military establishment. In addition, a former Soviet submarine captain joined the crew through principal photography, working alongside a naval technical adviser to lend maximum authenticity to portrayals of naval practice and shipboard operations.

While filming was under way, costume designer Marit Allen worked under great time pressure to complete more than 400 naval uniforms worn by the ill-fated submarine's crew. So many uniforms were necessary because each actor required several changes of

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