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Launch (1974)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Wallsend shipyard. The tanker London Lion is slowly towed out of the harbour in the early morning mist. The shipyard begins the working day. Workers walk down the terraced streets that are soon to be dwarfed by the World Unicorn, the new tanker being built. Soon the shipyard is a hive of activity - of cranes and machinery, ships and huge propellers, chains and hawsers, men welding, men spray-painting the great hull, tiny against the massive bulk of the tanker.

The ship gradually takes form and shape, coming to dominate the whole landscape of terraced housing surrounding the yard. Finally, it is time for the launch. To the sound of a brass band, the community gathers in and around the yard to witness the launch. News cameras are present to record the event. Shipyard and civic dignitaries arrive with Princess Anne, who is to launch the ship. In front of the expectant crowd, the royal visitor names the ship over an indistinct PA system. The ship slowly slides out, to the sound of hooters and cheers. As the ship comes to rest in the water, amidst clouds of rust from the unravelling chains, the crowd disperses.