Voyage of the Damned
Voyage of the Damned is a 1974 book written by Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts, which was the basis of a 1976 drama film with the same title. The story was inspired by true events concerning the fate of the MS St. Louis ocean liner carrying Jewish refugees from Germany to Cuba in 1939.
|Voyage of the Damned|
|Directed by||Stuart Rosenberg|
|Produced by||Robert Fryer
|Written by||David Butler
Max von Sydow
|Music by||Lalo Schifrin|
|Distributed by||AVCO Embassy Pictures|
|Running time||155 minutes|
The cast included Faye Dunaway, Laura Gemser, Lee Grant, Oskar Werner, Sam Wanamaker, Lynne Frederick, Luther Adler, Wendy Hiller, Julie Harris, Nehemiah Persoff, Paul Koslo, Jonathan Pryce, Max von Sydow, Malcolm McDowell, Orson Welles, James Mason, Katharine Ross, José Ferrer, Ben Gazzara, Fernando Rey, Maria Schell, Janet Suzman, Helmut Griem, Victor Spinetti and Denholm Elliott.
It was also the final film starring Oskar Werner.
Based on actual events, this film tells the story of the 1939 voyage of the MS St. Louis, which departed from Hamburg carrying 937 Jews from Germany, ostensibly to Havana, Cuba. The passengers, having seen and suffered rising anti-Semitism in Germany, realised this might be their only chance to escape. The film details the emotional journey of the passengers who gradually become aware that their passage was planned as an exercise in propaganda, and that it had never been intended that they disembark in Cuba. Rather, they were to be set up as Pariahs, to set an example before the world. As a Nazi official states in the film, when the whole world has refused to accept them as refugees, no country can blame Germany for the fate of the Jews.
The Cuban Government refuses entry to the passengers, and as the liner waits off the Florida coast, they learn that the United States also has rejected them, leaving the ship no choice but to return to Europe. The captain tells a confidante that he has received a letter signed by 200 passengers saying they will join hands and jump into the sea rather than return to Germany. He states his intention to run the liner aground on a reef off the southern coast of England.
Shortly before the film's end, it is revealed that the governments of Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom have each agreed to accept a share of the passengers as refugees. As they cheer and clap at the news, footnotes disclose the fates of some of the main characters, suggesting that more than 600 of the 937 passengers who did not make it to the UK ultimately lost their lives in Nazi concentration camps.
The true death toll is unclear. The book of these events estimates a much lower number of deaths. By using the survival rates for Jews in various countries, Thomas and Morgan-Witts estimated 180 of the St. Louis refugees in France, 152 of those in Belgium, and 60 of those in the Netherlands would have survived the Holocaust. Adding to these the passengers who disembarked in England, they estimated that of the original 936 refugees (one man died during the voyage), roughly 709 survived and 227 were slain. (See the relevant article.) In 1998, Scott Miller and Sarah Ogilvie of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum traced the survivors from the voyage. The conclusion of their research was that a similar, albeit slightly higher, total of 254 refugees died at the hands of the Nazis.
The complete, uncut version of the film was 182 minutes long. It was released only once, and on the Magnetic Video label in 1980.
The film was nominated for three Academy Awards:
- Best Supporting Actress - Lee Grant
- Best Original Score - Lalo Schifrin
- Best Writing Adapted Screenplay - David Butler and Steve Shagan.
|Voyage of the Damned|
|Soundtrack album by Lalo Schifrin|
|Recorded||April 12 and 13, 1977
|Lalo Schifrin chronology|
All songs written and composed by Lalo Schifrin.
|2.||"House Painter March"||1:49|
|4.||"What's Past is Past; Affirmation of Love"||2:51|
|6.||"The Arrival; Theme of Hope"||3:21|
|7.||"The Captain; Goodbye Aunt Jenny; We Need Help"||3:11|
|8.||"So Many Things I Wanted to Say"||2:08|
|9.||"To Be A Woman"||2:07|
|10.||"Tragedy; Time Pulse"||3:59|
|11.||"Our Prayers Have Been Answered"||2:16|
|12.||"End Credits (Foxtrot)"||2:30|
- Thomas, Gordon and Witts, Max Morgan (1974). Voyage of the Damned. Konecky & Konecky. ISBN 1-56852-579-6.
- Rosen, pp. 447, 567 citing Morgan-Witts and Thomas (1994) pp.8, 238
- Rosen, Robert (2006-07-17). Saving the Jews (Speech). Carter Center (Atlanta, Georgia). http://www.savingthejews.com/html/carterlibraryspeech.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-17.
- Payne, D. Lalo Schifrin discography accessed March 16, 2012
- Voyage of the Damned at the Internet Movie Database
- Voyage of the Damned at the TCM Movie Database
- Essay on the true story of the fate of the S.S. St. Louis passengers
- Jewish Virtual Library - The Tragedy of the S.S. St. Louis
- 20th Century History article
- Article discussing the role of the U.S. Coast Guard