History and logic take a back seat to drama and thrilling heroics in Hindenburg, a mini-series offering one hypothesis for what caused the tragic explosion that killed 36 people in 1937. No one is positive what caused the Hindenburg to explode, but director Philipp Kadelbach suggests that perhaps the airship was sabotaged by angry helium merchants, after warning the designers of the Hindenburg that hydrogen was extremely flammable and unsafe.
The story centers around Merten (Maximilian Simonischek), one of the engineers who helped design the Hindenburg, but when he is tipped off that there may be a bomb onboard, he gets swept up into a plot of corporate espionage, betrayal, and murder, and believe me I’m making it sound much more interesting than it is. Along for the ride is Jennifer, the daughter of a wealthy New York City family who’s enjoying the ritz and glamour of the Hindenburg when her attraction to Merten forces her to choose sides.
The structure of Hindenburg is so close to Titanic that there could be copyright issues. I’m not a fan of Titanic, but Hindenburg makes all of the same mistakes and to a whole new degree. At least Titanic had a strong cast. Everyone in this movie is bland and lifeless, and many of the cast members’ voices are dubbed over, presumably to erase the actors’ natural German accents. This dubbing is done fairly well, but it’s still obvious and distracting.
Also, it’s one thing to have Leonardo DiCaprio running to catch a ride on Titanic screaming about he’s the luckiest guy in the world. That level of dramatic irony is blatant and annoying sure, but Hindenburg has several characters with ominous bad feelings about the fate of the airship, and when a young passenger on the Hindenburg points out that the zeppelin is only 100 feet shorter than the Titanic, then we’ve moved beyond foreshadowing to fiveshadowing. It feels like almost like bad science fiction, where the destruction of the Hindenburg is so well known and tragic that knowledge of the event is reverberating back through time so strongly that the characters in the movie can sense it’s going to happen beforehand. It’s impossible to avoid a certain amount of inevitability when making a film like this or Titanic, or Pearle Harbor, but the characters in the movie aren’t allowed to feel the same sense of doom that the audience is meant to. It takes us right out of the story to have our characters nervous for no good reason; believing something terrible will happen but not having reason to believe that.
Available now on DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment.