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4.1 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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(May 25, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

An Allied agent tries to disarm scuttling explosives aboard a German captain's rubber ship.

Marlon Brando plays a world-weary, conscientious objector to all wars in the tense, thoughtful Morituri, an adult drama about wartime ethics and the price of commitment to a cause. Brando plays Robert Crain, a German deserter who escaped the Nazis with his fortune intact, happy to be sitting out the battle in British-governed India. His comfort is challenged when an intelligence official (Trevor Howard) essentially blackmails him into going undercover, posing as an SS officer taking passage on a German ship carrying tons of rubber for munitions. Crain's mission is to deliver the ship into Allied hands, but once he's aboard, he becomes a target of derision by the proud, anti-Nazi captain (Yul Brynner) and suspicion by a handful of Resistance members planning to scuttle the voyage. The dramatic irony in this film by German actor-director Bernhard Wicki is that Crain, who claims to take no sides and believes in nothing worth killing for, becomes a catalyst for a great deal of sacrifice and the underscoring of others' convictions with bloodshed. Janet Margolin has a memorable role as a half-mad, Jewish doctor who puts her life on the line to help Crain, and Brynner nearly steals the show in a tremendous performance as a man who has lost faith in everything. Some spectacular scenes give Morituri a certain electricity, including a complicated, unbroken shot taken (one presumes) from a helicopter that swoops in on the ship from a distance to catch a few lines of dialogue and a bit of action. --Tom Keogh

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Marlon Brando, Yul Brynner, Janet Margolin, Trevor Howard, Martin Benrath
  • Directors: Bernhard Wicki
  • Writers: Daniel Taradash, Werner Jörg Lüddecke
  • Producers: Aaron Rosenberg, Barney Rosenzweig
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), Spanish (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: May 25, 2004
  • Run Time: 123 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001NBMI0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,196 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Morituri" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael C. Browning on May 8, 2005
Format: DVD
This movie came out amid a spate of World War II remembrance movies in the early 60s, I think, and by then people were getting tired of the genre. That's a pity, because this is a really remarkable piece of work. There are parts of it that seem almost directed by Orson Welles, particularly the extraordinary camerawork below decks as Brando tries to defuse the bombs that would sink the ship. The script is one of the most searchingly intelligent you'll ever come across, and the whole thing explores the theme of loyalty and lying and expediency with a brilliance you just don't see in movies anymore. It's like Kafka at sea. There are splendid scenes where Brando, using an exaggerated German accent, makes himself into an SS agent, then has to backtrack to present himself in another role to Yul Brynner (who is also excellent in this film) like an instant chameleon. Then he has to act another way for the crew. Then he has to act another way for the woman. Then he has to act another way for the German officers. I've never seen Brando do better. There is a sort of hall-of-mirrors strangeness and refined characterization in this film that makes it quite unique. The DVD presentation is crystalline and the play of shadows and light over the decks and underdecks is quite astonishing. Jerry Goldsmith, who must have been very, very young when he did this, did the score. It reminds me strongly of "The Third Man," with virtual zither-like effects. I don't want to make this sound too academic and hypercritical, but this odd little movie is one of the smartest, most intelligent, artistic things I have seen in a long while. It makes all the John Wayne movies about Marines taking beaches and saving China from the Chinese, look very, very stupid. Exquisitely written, exquisitely acted, exquisitely filmed. This is the best movie you never saw.
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It's thought by many that Marlon Brando was probably one of the greatest actors to grace the silver screen, if not one of the weirdest (at least later in his life). Based on that alone (his acting, not his weirdness), I purchased Morituri (1965), having heard little to nothing about the film. The fact it also stars Yul Brynner didn't hurt either. Regardless, I am glad I picked this one up, as it's really quite good.

The title, as far as I can tell, is Latin meaning `for those about to die', which seems apt after watching the film. Directed by Bernhard Wicki, someone I've never heard of, probably because he was an Austrian who mainly directed German films, the film stars Marlon Brando and Yul Brynner. Also appearing are Janet Margolin (Nevada Smith), Trevor Howard (The Third Man), and a German actor I've never heard of named Martin Benrath who I thought was quite good.

The film, set during WWII, begins with German Captain Rolf Mueller being given charge of a cargo ship, leaving Japan and destined for occupied France, one that contains critical raw materials, mainly rubber, important for Germany's war effort. He's none too happy with his assignment, as some of the crew is made up of undesirables and political prisoners destined to be tried upon arrival (I would guess they wouldn't be to eager to reach their destination). The Allied forces, on learning of the contents of the ship, approach Robert Crain, a German demolitions expert and ex-patriot hiding in English ruled India, for the purpose of getting him on the ship, not to blow up the ship, but to disarm the scuttle charges (apparently German ships contained explosives so that if they were to get captured, the captain was to detonate the explosives and `scuttle', or sink, the vessel to keep it out of enemy hands).
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Format: DVD
This is one of the best WWII films i Have seen. It really boggles my mind that this film flopped at the box office and with the critics.

Brando and Brynner are amazing to look at and the screen crackells with their chemistry.

The film has serious drama, dialogue and the plight of the concentration camp vicitms is poignantly handled.

Brando is amazing to look at and his command of the accents is great to watch. He is just brilliant and Brynner stands up to him very well..

The direction is tight and the cinematography is one of the best i have ever seen.

The movie should be reevaluted and get its rightful and much deserved appreciation.

a 21 gun salute to the movie. Another slap on the critics who ssaid that Brando did nothing great in the 60s.

The only hitch that i can see is that there should have been extra features besides the trailors in the dvd.

all in all, great fun.
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Bernhard Wicki's film of high seas suspense in a world of espionage during WWII. A very tight script and good direction compensated by the amazing talents of Brynner and Brando.

The film focuses on the character of Marlon Brando who plays a wealthy German who had escaped from Germany to settle in India. Brando is the epidemy of self interest and doesn't care who wins the war. British intelligence approaches him and orders him to board a German merchant vessel leaving Tokyo Harbor for Strasbourg France with a cargo of rubber for the war effort. The Allies are also short on rubber and so coerce Brando to seize the ship under the threat of deporting him back to Germany where he would probably be shot as a traitor. Under such duress, Brando accepts the assignment and begins to demolish the explosives that are intended to scuttle the ship should it be captured or impaired. Brynner is the ship's commander and is an apolitical character. Although old fashioned in terms of patriotism, Brynner's character has no love for Hitler or the party unlike his 1st mate. Brando uses his cover as an SS officer to manipulate the first mate. At the same time, Brando uses his real identity to persuade the prisoner crew to mutiny and come with him to meet the Allied ships waiting for them. Things go terribly wrong however as the ship deviates from its expected course and Brando's cover is blown. What follows is a high suspense story of courage and determination.

This is a great film with lots of character development and suspense. The performances of Brando and Brynner are simply outstanding. This is a great film to own.
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