Factual error: In the last battle scene when you see shots of the German destroyer through the periscope the last one shot before it's blown up is really bad angling. The ship is far away but in the scope it's very close and the periscope (in order to get that camera angle) is 100 ft in the air.
Factual error: At the beginning of the film the German commander is shown directing an attack using the periscope in the control room. German U-boats had two periscopes: a 'sky' scope (the one in the control room) used exclusively for searching the area directly above the boat prior to surfacing, and the 'attack' periscope located in the conning tower (turm). It was not possible for a German submarine commander to direct an attack from the control room periscope as depicted in the film.
Continuity mistake: Just after shooting the radio room on the German destroyer, U-571 submerges so quickly that the sailors do not manage to plug the gun. After a few moments when the boat goes from 180 to 200 meters there is a short shot from the above when we can clearly see that the gun is perfectly plugged.
Factual error: When the marine commando shows the sailor his "luggage" (the boxes of explosives) to be loaded onto the submarine, some of the boxes have orange Explosive B placards. Those are Dept. of Transportation placards. The D.O.T. didn't exist until 1966 and the placards were not used until later than that.
Continuity mistake: After the melee with the destroyer above the surface, they attempt to dive and travel under the keel of the destroyer to escape the deck guns. As the camera is going underwater, the destroyer can be seen, but when the camera is below the surface, its keel cannot be seen.
Add timePhil Watts
Factual error: When the American crew storms the U-571 and reaches the aft compartment, where the last Germans are gathered, we can see a row of bunks on each side of the chamber. The VIIC type has no crew acommodation in this place; the last compartment houses just the electric motors and some pumps and auxiliary machinery, as well as the breach of the aft torpedo tube.
Continuity mistake: As the submarine is preparing to leave the dock in one of the movie's first scenes, Bill Paxton, the commander is standing on the top part of the sub. A seaman is walking in Bill Paxton's direction and the camera is at a distance. As the camera zooms in the man walking should have been in the frame under Mr. Paxton but he just disappeared.
Continuity mistake: When the German destroyer is with U-571, look at the ship. Notice in the first shots there are 2 gun turrets on either side. Yet in the later shots during the final battle there's only one turret. In addition, right before the turrets are shown turning to fire, look at the ship again - they are already aimed at the U-boat. I guess the Germans felt the need to do this two times.
Continuity mistake: When the S-33 is torpedoed, the boarding party members (including Tank) stand motionless, staring at the destruction in horror. Then Tank shouts "The scuttling charge!" and hurries towards the aft hatch to disable the explosives. Five seconds later, as the Chief throws a rope to Tyler, Tank can be seen standing motionless behind him, still staring at the destruction in horror.
Factual error: Shortly after the crew of the S33 are forced to take to the U571 and destroy the German Supply Submarine Tyler announces that they will try to sail to Greenland or Land's End (England). From their mid-Atlantic position they would, therefore, need to sail east. In the next scene the submarine is seen on the surface sailing from left to right across the screen with the sun on the other side of them. Since from the North Atlantic the sun would always be to the south this must mean they are sailing west, away from Greenland and England and towards the United States.
00:57:05 - 00:59:25
Other mistake: There is a scene where Eddie, the mess steward, is taunting the German prisoners while writing numbers on their chests. Watch his writing hand as he's working on 11. He makes an awful lot of strokes, including several horizontal ones. You can see from the next guy, 12, that Eddie's ones are just simple vertical lines, so there's no reason for him to have spent so much time writing on 11's chest. Except that it gave him time to say his whole line.
Factual error: When the boarding party are eating dinner on SS-33 before the raid, some of their spanking-new, freshly pressed Kriegsmarine utility uniforms (strange in itself) have breast eagles on the left chest instead of the right. I've never seen any German Wehrmacht uniform with an eagle on the left.
Continuity mistake: When the Americans are first diving U-571, the Chief recommends "closing main vents". Tyler runs over and starts spinning two large red wheels. Each time the scene cuts back to him, he is spinning the wheels in a different direction. Left than right, than left again.
Add timeGrumpy Scot
Continuity mistake: When the German in the bunk goes to shoot Matthew McConaughey, the man fires but the bullet doesn't hit the wall, only about 2 feet away, for a much longer time than it would have really taken. Also, when the American soldiers pass by the spot a few minutes later where the bullet hit (when they are looking at the dead German's ring) the bullet hole has suddenly disappeared.
Continuity mistake: When the U-571 goes to 200m, it springs a bunch of leaks and everybody gets soaked. Then, there is a shot looking past Tank's left shoulder at Tyler and the chief talking. In this shot, Tank's shoulder is completely dry. The camera angle changes and then changes back, and in the next shot at this same angle Tank's coat is now dripping with water.
Factual error: Submariners are trained to always listen to the sounds of the boat, since anything out of the ordinary could mean death. Given that training, the small size of a German U-boat and the less-than-skeleton crew aboard it is not possible that the sounds of the fight in the forward torpedo room, or the sounds of the German commander operating the chain on the torpedo loading rail would have gone unnoticed or uninvestigated for so long.
Factual error: At the beginning of the film the diesel fuel in the German U-boat is shown being ignited by a spark and bursting into flames during the depth charge attack as if it were gasoline. In reality diesel fuel is quite hard to ignite when not compressed and does not burn quite so readily as shown in the film.
Factual error: At the beginning of the film the depth charge attack is shown rupturing a diesel fuel line in the engine room, which showers the fuel DOWN on the crew stationed there. In fact the fuel lines ran UNDER the deck plates and so a broken line could not shower fuel in that manner.
Plot hole: In the movie the German sub is in the middle of the Atlantic about 1500 miles from the American coast the American submarine is an S-Class boat which had a top speed on the surface of 12 Knots even less underwater and it spent part of the trip submerged. This means that it would have taken them at least 5 or 6 days to reach the German Sub. This is 1942 There would have been dozens of other German subs a lot closer who could have come to their rescue.
Add timeClarence Daugette
Deliberate mistake: In the scene near the end of the movie when Trigger is in the bilge trying to stop the air leak, the concussion of an artillery shell fired from the destroyer shakes some pipes loose. The mistake is that one of the flanges visible on a section of pipe has no bolt holes, making it impossible to join that pipe to anything.
Continuity mistake: After the German captain has attacked Tank and handcuffed him to the crane, the pattern of blood on Tank's face changes at least twice. First, he has two channels of blood running down the left side of his face under his nose and on his chin, and no blood on his lips or the right side of his face. Then, when Eddie and Tyler arrive, there is blood smeared all over Tank's nose and lips. Finally, after Tyler takes the cuff off and is yelling at Tank, all of a sudden there is a line of blood from Tank's nose across his cheek to his right ear.
Deliberate mistake: When the Americans are in the U-571 battling the resupply sub, Tank gets the engines running and starts the sub moving forward. There is an exterior shot of the sub's propellers, with the port prop turning counterclockwise and the starboard prop turning clockwise. Then Tyler wants to turn right to heading 010, and he orders "Starboard back full", which should reverse the direction of the starboard propeller to help turn the sub. Two exterior shots later, however, the props are shown still turning exactly the same way they were before Tank reversed the starboard engine.
00:52:00 - 00:53:35
Revealing mistake: When the German destroyer is hit by the torpedo at the end of the film it is seen to stop dead in the water upon the torpedo impact. In reality momentum would have carried the ship forward some distance after the explosion. A thousand or so tons of steel just does not stop on a dime unless it hits something like a mountainside.
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