Culture
This WWII film being shot in Malta left one young boy speechless
Hell Boats may have tanked at the box-office but its footage of ‘70s Malta is priceless!

Caroline Curmi

Any impressionable young child would have had a similar reaction to Tano Role’s when accidentally stumbling across a WWII film set. In an article published in Diver magazine in 2017, he looks back at the events which unfolded on otherwise peaceful fine summer day: “my jaw dropped as we arrived for an afternoon swim at our favourite holiday location and my father’s car was stopped by a Maltese policeman,” he says.

He was in for an even bigger shock when he spotted what initially appeared to be real soldiers: “Behind [the policeman], Nazi soldiers with swastika armbands were marching menacingly towards the picturesque fishing village of Wied iz-Zurrieq, accompanied by military motorcylists and half-tracked vehicles,” he continues.

As a an avid war comic fan, he had been left both mightily impressed by the scene unravelling in front of him and also experienced a degree of confusion at the apparent timeshift: “I remember staring out of the car window and wondering why my father was so calm” Tano says.

The film Hell Boats was a British production which was entirely filmed in Malta, with some locations even standing in for Sicily. Hell Boats was based on the real-life torpedo boat WWII mission called Operation Ruthless and implemented a classic war genre plot with a classic love triangle. A Hollywood director had been flown in to help the film, and although it didn't quite hit the desired mark with its audience, it has gifted Malta with some priceless footage of the island circa the '70s!

Check out an excerpt from the film below:

 Did you know? Hell boat was a WWII term used by the Germans for their motor torpedo E-boat. 

14th February 2020


Caroline Curmi
Written by
Caroline Curmi
When she’s not having a quarter-life crisis, Caroline is either drawing in a café, frittering her salary on sushi or swearing at traffic in full-on Gozitan. There is also the occasional daytime drink somewhere in the equation. Or two. A creative must be allowed at least one vice.

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