July 7, 2020 – A World War 1 admiral is the unlikely subject for a big-screen biopic by a British filmmaker.
Sea Lord intends to tell the story of Admiral Sir John ‘Jacky’ Fisher who was architect – and leader, briefly – of the Royal Navy in World War 1.
A decade before the Great War, Fisher revolutionised the Senior Service as its First Sea Lord, focusing on technology and modernization, axing aged vessels, and above all for his advocacy of all-big-gun battleships, beginning with HMS Dreadnought… which rendered every other warship afloat obsolete upon her launch in 1906.
And when his Prince Louis of Battenberg was forced to stand down amid a tidal wave of anti-German feeling just three months into WW1, Fisher was recalled from retirement.
It’s this final period which is the focus of Sea Lord and the admiral’s relationship with his political master, Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty.
The two men were good friends – even before Fisher was recalled in October 1914 – but the seven months Fisher spent as First Sea Lord under Churchill were tempestuous.
The Fleet failed to deliver a ‘second Trafalgar’, German submarines seemed to be running amok but, above all, the two men clashed over Churchill’s grand scheme to knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war by seizing the Dardanelles and advancing on Constantinople (present-day Istanbul).
“Damn the Dardanelles – they will be our grave,” Fisher famously snapped on one occasion; he favoured a no-less-dangerous venture by the Royal Navy into the Baltic – the Germans’ backyard.
The dispute came to a head in mid-May 1915 with Fisher resigning as the Dardanelles campaign – better known today as Gallipoli – bloodily faltered. He never returned to office.
Film producer – and the admiral’s great-great granddaughter – Penelope Fisher believes this is a story ripe for the telling on the big screen.
She’s been fascinated by her ancestor since the age of 11 and having worked on films as varied as musical comedy Romance and Cigarettes, Mel Gibson’s Mayan epic Apocalypto and the biopic of Edith Piaf La Vie en Rose, set up her own production company to bring Sea Lord to life.
“As I grew up I became fascinated with this acclaimed, enormous character of a man and the people in his life,” Penelope said. “He is considered the second most important figure in Royal Naval history after Lord Nelson.
“He also had a complex personal life. While he was a caring husband and father, he was also infatuated with Nina, Duchess of Hamilton, his mistress, some 30 years his junior. And, in his 70s, he became the first person to use the expression ‘OMG’.”
A script has been written, but funding is now needed to bring the pages to life. To learn more about the planned movie, Admiral Fisher and funding, visit www.tridentfilms.co.uk