Kursk (film)

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Kursk poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byThomas Vinterberg
Produced byAriel Zeitoun
Screenplay byRobert Rodat
Based onA Time to Die
by Robert Moore
StarringMatthias Schoenaerts
Léa Seydoux
Colin Firth
Peter Simonischek
August Diehl
Max von Sydow
Music byAlexandre Desplat
CinematographyAnthony Dod Mantle
Edited byValdís Óskarsdóttir
Belga Productions
Distributed bySTX Films
Release date
  • September 6, 2018 (2018-09-06) (TIFF)
  • November 7, 2018 (2018-11-07) (France)
  • June 21, 2019 (2019-06-21) (United States)
Running time
117 minutes
Budget$40 million[3][4][5]

Kursk is a 2018 English-language French-Belgian drama film directed by Thomas Vinterberg based on Robert Moore’s book A Time to Die, about the true story of the 2000 Kursk submarine disaster. It stars Matthias Schoenaerts, Colin Firth, Léa Seydoux, Peter Simonischek, Max von Sydow, Matthias Schweighöfer and Michael Nyqvist.


Based on the 2000 K-141 Kursk submarine disaster, in which 118 Russian sailors died. Kursk sank during a Russian naval exercise in the Barents Sea after explosions within the submarine. Twenty-three sailors survived the crash and desperately waited for help to arrive while their oxygen ran out minute-by-minute. The Russian government refused help from foreign governments for five days before agreeing to aid from the British and Norwegian governments.



On 17 August 2015, it was announced that EuropaCorp was developing a film based on the 2000 K-141 Kursk submarine disaster, and that Martin Zandvliet had been hired to direct the film from a script by Robert Rodat, based on Robert Moore’s 2002 book A Time to Die. "Kursk" would have been Zandvliet’s first English-language film.[1] On 21 January 2016, it was reported that Zandvliet was no longer attached and that EuropaCorp had hired Thomas Vinterberg to direct the film.[9]

On 2 March 2016, Matthias Schoenaerts was announced in the cast, reteaming with Vinterberg after Far from the Madding Crowd (2015).[10] Colin Firth joined the cast on 26 May 2016.[11] Léa Seydoux joined the cast on 7 February 2017, in the role of Tanya, the wife of Mikhail Kalekov, a Russian Navy captain-lieutenant played by Matthias Schoenaerts. Rachel McAdams was once in talks for the role of Tanya.[6] Deadline Hollywood also reported that Firth will play David Russell, a British naval commander who goes against Russia’s warnings so he can try to save the men on the Kursk.[6]

On 15 March 2017, it was reported that Vladimir Putin's character has been cut from the film before an actor was cast for the role.[12] According to The Hollywood Reporter,[12] EuropaCorp's president, Luc Besson, wanted to shift the story’s focus to the rescue mission rather than the politics behind the disaster. One theory noted by The Hollywood Reporter is that nobody at EuropaCorp wanted to be hacked, like happened to the film The Interview, that angered Kim Jong-un and is believed to have sparked the Sony hack in 2014.[12] Putin was eight months into the job as Russian president when the tragedy occurred in 2000. He was supposed to appear as a supporting character in the film in at least five scenes, and was sympathetically portrayed in the original Kursk script, which highlighted why he took the tragedy personally (Putin’s father was a submariner before the war).[12]

On 8 May 2017, Peter Simonischek, Max von Sydow and Michael Nyqvist were announced in the cast.[13] However Nyqvist died on 27 June.[14]

Alexandre Desplat composed the movie score.[15] The crew includes Catherine Marchand as the costume designer,[13] Anthony Dod Mantle as the director of photography,[13] Thierry Flamand as the production designer[13] and Valdis Oskardottir as the film’s editor.[13]

Subject matter experts such as journalist Robert Moore, author of the novel upon which the film is based, along with David Russell, (Commodore, British Royal Navy who tried to save the men from Kursk), and submarine expert Ramsey Martin acted as advisors for the film.[13]

The project was produced by France's EuropaCorp with Belgium’s Belga Productions and Luxembourg’s VIA EST.[16]


The film was scheduled to start shooting in September 2016, but it had to be postponed due to Russia's defense ministry not issuing a permit for the shoot in the country, which would run for about a month.[17] According to The Hollywood Reporter, Russia's defense ministry originally promised cooperation with the crew, wanting to provide realism expertise to the movie.[18] But later it reportedly grew concerned about granting access to classified information and locations.[2] On 7 February 2017, ScreenDaily.com reported that shooting was scheduled to start in April.[16]

Filming started at the Naval base of Toulon, France on 26 April 2017.[19] Some scenes were filmed with Colin Firth at the commercial port of Brest, France between the 2 May and the 6th May 2017, including scenes aboard the rescue ship Atlantic Tonjer,[20] serving as the Seaway Eagle.[21][22] On 8 May 2017, it was reported that besides France, shooting will also take place in locations throughout Europe, including Belgium and Norway.[13] On 12 July 2017 the crew was in Jette (Brussels) and scenes were filmed in "Salle Excelsior" (Place Cardinal Mercier).


EuropaCorp has international rights to the film, which will be released through EuropaCorp's U.S film distribution joint venture RED (Relativity EuropaCorp Distribution).[10] STX Films will distribute it in the United States.[13] The film premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. No UK release date has been announced.


On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 71% based on 21 reviews, with an average rating of 5.8/10.[23] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 53 out of 100, based on 6 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews ".[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Kursk Submarine Disaster Movie in the Works at Luc Besson's EuropaCorp". Variety. 17 August 2015. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Russia's Defense Ministry to Cooperate on Luc Besson's Submarine Disaster Movie". The Hollywood Reporter. 11 April 2016. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  3. ^ "Britse Oscarwinnaar én Matthias Schoenaerts zes weken aan de slag in Lint". Het Nieuwsblad (in Dutch). 10 March 2017. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  4. ^ "Oscarwinnaar zes weken in ons land voor duurste filmproductie op Belgische bodem". De Standaard (in Dutch). 10 March 2017. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  5. ^ "Belgium's best kept secret? TLG talks to Glenn Roggeman, CEO of AED Studios". The Location Guide. 4 May 2017. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Lea Seydoux Boards EuropaCorp Submarine Drama 'Kursk' – Berlin". Deadline Hollywood. 9 February 2017. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  7. ^ "Matthias Schweighöfer - Schulze & Heyn FILM PR". Schulze & Heyn FILM PR. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  8. ^ Seeberg, Kenan (9 April 2017). "Seven Danes to Play in Big American Disaster Movie". Metroxpress (in Danish). Metroxpress. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  9. ^ "Thomas Vinterberg to Direct 'Kursk' Submarine Movie for Luc Besson's EuropaCorp". Variety. 21 January 2016. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  10. ^ a b "Matthias Schoenaerts & Thomas Vinterberg Reunite On EuropaCorp Sub Tale 'Kursk'". Deadline Hollywood. 2 March 2016. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  11. ^ "Colin Firth to Star in Submarine Disaster Movie 'Kursk'". The Hollywood Reporter. 25 May 2016. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  12. ^ a b c d "Vladimir Putin Character Cut From Luc Besson's Russian Thriller". The Hollywood Reporter. 15 March 2017. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h "Thomas Vinterberg's Kursk movie, now in production, will shoot all over Europe". ComingSoon.net. 8 May 2017. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  14. ^ Michael Nyqvist, ‘Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ Star, Dies at 56. By Alex Stedman. Variety.com, June 27, 2017.
  15. ^ "Alexandre Desplat to Score Thomas Vinterberg's 'Kursk'". Film Music Reporter. 8 May 2017. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  16. ^ a b "Lea Seydoux boards Vinterberg's Kursk submarine drama". ScreenDaily.com. 7 February 2017. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  17. ^ "Russian Shoot of Colin Firth Disaster Movie Postponed". The Hollywood Reporter. 16 August 2016. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  18. ^ Sputnik (9 April 2016). "True to Life: Russia to Help Luc Besson Make Kursk Submarine Tragedy Movie". sputniknews.com. Sputnik. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  19. ^ "Léa Seydoux et Colin Firth tournent à Toulon... en toute discrétion". Varmatin (in French). 25 April 2017. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  20. ^ "Brest : Tournage d'un film sur le naufrage du Koursk". Mer et Marine (in French). 9 May 2017. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  21. ^ "Tournage. Colin Firth à Brest pour le film "Kursk"". Le Télégramme (in French). 2 May 2017. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  22. ^ Ouest france (5 May 2017). "Brest: Vintenberg tells part of the history of Kursk". Ouest france (in French). Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  23. ^ "Kursk (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved October 14, 2018.
  24. ^ "Kursk reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 14, 2018.

External links[edit]