The story of the USS Indianapolis is both incredible and devastating, as the cruiser was hit and ultimately sunk by two torpedoes from a Japanese sub during World War II. Only 316 of the ship’s original 1,196 crewmen survived what is known as the “Worst Naval Disaster in U.S. History,” because so many of the men were left to fend for themselves for days in the shark-infested waters. The story was, of course, famously told by Robert Shaw’s character, Quint, in the 1975 film Jaws, in which he explained to Brody and Hooper how his fellow crewmen had no way to see the tiger sharks coming, and that was why he chose to never get back in the water again.
Robert Downey Jr.’s Team Downey and Warner Bros. are teaming up to tell the story of the USS Indianapolis on the big screen, with The Help’s Tate Taylor signed on to direct a script by Mike Jones, according to Deadline. Calling it “Quint’s USS Indianapolis story” might seem a bit insensitive or at best an absurd reach for pop cultural relevance, but the fact is that the character’s grim description plays a big role in Taylor’s film.
Set in 1996, the film tells the true story of 11-year-old Hunter Scott, who needed a project with which to compete in a National History Day Contest. He watched Jaws and came away inspired and researched how the warship got sunk by torpedoes on its return voyage from delivering the Hiroshima bomb. Because the mission was secret, the crew floated for five days, easy pickings for the giant sharks that swam the waters. The youth learned how ship captain Charles McVay was unjustly court-martialed. He set out to find the truth behind the worst U.S. Naval disaster in history. What he discovered was that the only proper designation was a hero, for McVay’s actions under horrible duress and unimaginable carnage. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the ship’s sinking. (Via Deadline)
“Anniversary” always seems like such a poor word for occasions like this. We really need to invent a better word that means the same thing, but reminds us that the outcome was horrifying and doesn’t call for balloons and cake. In the meantime, read more about the USS Indianapolis here.