ChildCare Action Project (CAP): Christian Analysis of American Culture


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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to our youth through you,
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K-19: The Widowmaker (2002), PG-13
Analysis Date: July 19, 2002
CAP Score: 69
CAP Influence Density: 0.73

MinMax: -100

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NOTE: If you do not want the plot, ending, or "secrets" of a movie spoiled for you, skip the Summary/Commentary. In any case, be sure to visit the Findings/Scoring section -- it is completely objective to His Word and is the heart of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie.


If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary likely using a mix of KJV and NIV.

K-19: THE WIDOWMAKER (PG-13) -- R-rated material in violence (W), but PG or G in all five other investigation areas.

Production: National Geographic Society
Distribution: Paramount Pictures
Director(s): Kathryn Bigelow
Producer(s): Kathryn Bigelow, Moritz Borman, Winship Cook, Steve Danton, Guy East, Edward S. Feldman, Harrison Ford, Basil Iwanyk, Steven-Charles Jaffe, Samara Koffler, Sigurjon Sighvatsson, Nigel Sinclair, Chris Whitaker, Mark Wolfe
Written by/Screenplay: Louis Nowra (story), Christopher Kyle(screenplay)
Cinematography/Camera: Jeff Cronenweth
Music: Klaus Badelt, Geoff Zanelli
Film Editing: Walter Murch
Casting: Ross Clydesdale, Mali Finn, Mary Selway
Production Design: Karl Juliusson, Michael Novotny
Art Direction: Arvinder Grewal, Michael Novotny

K-19: Widowmaker. PG-13? The CAP final score of 69 placed it two points into the scoring range earned by PG movies (68 - 86 out of 100). It is certainly mathematically equivalent to R-rated material in violence (W), but PG or G in all five other investigation areas (I, S, D, O, M). Even in language (I) -- three uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary [Eph. 5:4], but God's name in vain (O) was not noted even once with or without the four letter expletive. But there is nudity (S) [**]. I suspect that is why the MPAA put K-19: The Widowmaker in PG-13. While adult male full side and rear nudity may subjectively be cause to give the movie a PG-13, in my opinion (subjectively) K-19: Widowmaker should be R because of the nudity. But my opinion is meaningless to the CAP analysis model. The CAP model does not judge whether what God says is sinful really is or not or whether there was an "excuse" for the sin or not. The CAP model permits for severity by assigning point loss between 1 and 3 to each issue of ignominy, but not whether a sin really is or not. It cares not about whatever trumped up "justification" is used to excuse sin in sinema. We tell you what is there. And we give you some Rock-solid comparative numeric tools. You decide whether it is fit for your kids or not.

In this "based on a true story" feature about nuclear armament and the Russian efforts to keep up with the US Naval nuclear force, Capt. Alexi Vostrikov (Harrison Ford) is chosen to usurp Capt. Mikhail Polenin (Liam Neeson) as captain of boat number 294, the K-19. The K-19 is superstitiously called The Widowmaker because of its incomplete state of operability at launch -- the pride of the soviet union. With a constant theme of a nuclear winter threat, tension is maintained throughout the show knowing this really happened, or at least was supposed to have really happened. Whether Russia had ten times the amount of nuclear weaponry to kill everything on the earth or whether the US had 100 times that amount, many of us had to live through the threat of nuclear devastation in the ending third of the 20th century.

Knowing the K-19 was not seaworthy and even at the mutterings and quibbling of the ship's usurped Captain and now Executive Officer Polenin and crew, Vostrikov demanded the boat launch on time. Amidst seawater dripping and steel crying throughout the boat, the K-19 submerged. Captain "Queeg" Vostrikov forced the entire crew to practice grueling drill after drill ... for a reason adequately demonstrated later in the picture ... which had nothing to do with steaming over its own tow cable. Vostrikov even ordered the boat to be taken to a depth 50 meters deeper than maximum design specifications as if to force the boat to submit to his high expectations.

After many drills of "it ain't good enough even if it's perfect" scoring by the Captain, an opportunity arises to find out whether the drilling was effective. In the northern seas above the Atlantic with surface ice one meter thick, Vostrikov ordered fast ascent to the missile test fire location . What happens is yours to discover if you decide the questionable content we reveal for you is acceptable.

Part of the terror in this film set in the nuclear cold war tensions was the failure of the aft nuclear reactor primary coolant pump, causing the core to heat up. If core temperature reached 1000 degrees the core would melt through the containment and, combined with the nuclear missiles on board, would cause a 1.4 megaton nuclear explosion not to mention international tensions already strained to the breaking point which would be destroyed as would the US outpost on a nearby island. Well, let me explain something about reactors blowing up like nuclear bombs. While I do not know the percentage of fissile material (chain reaction material - the stuff that causes the heat) in Russian naval reactors, it takes about 96% pure fissile material under extremely controlled configuration for a nuclear device to explode under nuclear fission -- like a nuclear bomb. From 12 years in the nuclear power industry I can tell you at least that American commercial power reactors use only 3% to 4% fissile material and CANNOT blow up like a nuclear bomb. They can have massive steam explosions which can cause wide-spread distribution of steam containing radioactive material, i.e., "fallout" but they cannot blow up like a nuclear bomb. The percentage of fissile material and the configuration are just not right for a bomb. The problems with American nuclear power stations since Three Mile Island appears to be in management, not design.

One thing I did notice of probable accuracy in K-19: Widowmaker was the portrayal that the Russians were not that big on fancy and shiny in equipment. I read in other sources that they had no desire for bright and opulent exterior on the war machines. Everything looked as though it was assembled without thought of appearance, maybe implying their focus is on functionality rather that superficially. Even their modern jets are covered with rust according to the article which I can neither find or quote.

Much of the movie is quite intense. There are many radiation burns portrayed, two bloody injuries and seven deaths, but outside of the violence coefficient of K-19: Widowmaker and the nudity, it was relatively light. I will let the listing in the Findings/Scoring section tell what I found.


If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ]. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.

  • Eph. 5:4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving
    **"Nakedness" (display of nudity) is spoken of as dark, restricted, undesirable, shameful, etc. 47 times in the KJV from Genesis to Revelation. For example, Ezek. 16:36 "Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thy filthiness was poured out, and thy nakedness discovered through thy whoredoms with thy lovers,..." thus associating wanton nakedness with ill repute. What makes display of nudity okay in film if it is not okay in flesh?

    *******Food for Daily Thought*******
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 (KJV) Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
  • Jude 4 For certain men* whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto [or for] one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto [or for] me.
  • Luke 17:2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. [cause by teaching or example]
  • Ps. 119:133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.

    K-19: The Widowmaker (2002) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
  • traffic fatality
  • story tension episodes, action violence
  • bloody injuries
  • facial radiation injuries
  • whole-body radiation injuries/sickness, some very graphic
  • firearm threat
  • fire action violence, including deaths (not seen)
  • seven deaths (only one seen)

    Impudence/Hate (I)(1):
  • three uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • ku klux klan imagery
  • orders to lie

    Sex/Homosexuality (S):
  • sex talk
  • adults in towels only
  • dozens of male rear nudity
  • multiple full side and rear male nudity

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • smoking
  • drinking

    Offense to God (O)(2):
  • superstition
  • religious icons forbidden

    Murder/Suicide (M)(3):
  • none noted

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    NOTE: The CAP Analysis Model makes no scoring allowances for trumped-up "messages" to excuse or for manufacturing of justification for aberrant behavior or imagery, or for camouflaging such ignominy with "redeeming" programming. Disguising sinful behavior in a theme plot does not excuse the sinful behavior of either the one who is drawing pleasure or example from the sinful display or the practitioners demonstrating the sinful behavior. This is NOT a movie review service. It is a movie analysis service to parents and grandparents to tell them the truth about movies using the Truth.

    "There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our nearly seven years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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    (1) As noted in CAP Special Report-001, "Investigation Area and Scoring Trend," of the six CAP Investigation Areas, Impudence/Hate was the strongest presence in all four movie classifications. It has a strong revelation about the entertainment media.

    (2) The use of the three/four letter word vocabulary without God's name in vain is incorporated into the Impudence/Hate Investigation Area. The use of God's name with or without the four letter expletive is incorporated into the Offense to God Investigation Area. There is no duplication.

    (3) Only portrayal of successful murder or suicide are incorporated into Murder/Suicide. Portrayal of attempts to commit murder or suicide and deaths by police action or war are incorporated into Wanton Violence/Crime.

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