USS Indianapolis: The Legacy (NR)

Documentary 98 min. November 11, 2016
By Nick Schager
Nicolas Cage may have just headlined a fictionalized drama about the July 30, 1945, WWII sinking of the USS Indianapolis, but viewers will learn far more about its story — immortalized by Robert Shaw's famous speech in Jaws — from USS Indianapolis: The Legacy. A documentary comprising 104 new interviews with survivors and their family members (as well as the descendants of Japanese commander Mochitsura Hashimoto, whose subs torpedoed the ship), Sara Vladic's film was produced over 10 years and is buoyed by a wealth of amazing archival film footage and photos. Nonetheless, it's her speakers' firsthand recollections that are truly harrowing.

Seamlessly edited together into a unified narrative, these testimonies cover the Indianapolis' delivery of the first atomic bomb, the sailors' postattack experiences abandoning ship and their struggles to survive in the waters for four long days for their eventual rescue — all while fellow crewmen were eaten by sharks numbering in the thousands. Vladic also covers Captain Charles B. McVay's unjust court-martial for his actions and the survivors' efforts to overcome their lifelong PTSD. Horrifying in their immediacy and heartrending in their details, these accounts — told through tears and infused with gratitude and survivor's guilt — are unbelievably gripping, and combine to form a vital record of this most nightmarish of historical events.
Sara Vladic


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