Uni Apollon (Ulysses' Uncle, the Triton), Alex Nova (Don Esteban Ferragut, Ulysses' father), Kada Abd-el-Kader (Ulysses as a boy), Hughie Mack (Uncle Caragol), Alice Terry (Freya Talberg), Antonio Moreno (Ulysses Ferragut), Mlle. Kithnou (Ulysses' wife, Doña Cinta), Mickey Brantford (their son, Esteban), Frederick Mariotti (Toni), Madame Paquereet (Dr. Fedelmann), Fernand Mailly (Count Kaledine), André von Engelmann (submarine commander).
Ulysses Ferragut has been raised listening to his uncle's stories of the sea and his love of the Mediterranean, as well as stories of the goddess of the sea, Amphitrite, whom he claims to have seen. Ulysses stares longingly at a picture of Amphitrite that hangs in his uncle's home and dreams of meeting her one day himself. For generations, Ulysses' family have been sailors, until his father. His father is a lawyer and wants Ulysses to follow in his footsteps.
When next we see Ulysses, he is a grown man and he has followed in his uncle's footsteps, not his father's. He is a sailor who has invested his entire fortune in a freighter, the Mare Nostrum. Two of his crew are men who have known him all his life Toni and "Uncle" Caragol, a very fat and lovable family friend. However, Ulysses' wife is pressuring him to give up the ship and the sea because his lengthy absences from home are "ruining" his son's life. He concedes and returns to his home in Barcelona to tell his wife, but shortly after telling her the good news, Toni rushes in with news that World War I has broken out. Since there will certainly be a great demand for freighters, this is their chance to get rich, and off they go.
The freighter business is just as lucrative as they expected,
and Ulysses decides to go on a short holiday in Pompeii leaving
Toni in charge of the Mare Nostrum. There he meets the beautiful
Freya Talberg and her companion, a large, masculine looking female
named Doctor Fedelmann. Ulysses is at once taken by Freya and
is positive he knows her from somewhere but can't figure out exactly
where. Later he realizes she is identical to the image of Amphitrite
in the picture in his uncle's home. He continues to be smitten,
and, due to his attentiveness to Freya, the Mare Nostrum sits
idle for two weeks.
In Naples, Freya reveals to Ulysses that she is Austrian and that she and Fedelmann are working for the Germans. Afraid of losing her, he is convinced to offer his services to the Germans, as well.
He is introduced to Count Kaledine complete with short cropped hair, monocle and clicking heels. Ulysses and Freya are able to spend more time together as they await instructions for Ulysses. Finally, he is asked to captain a boat to a designated spot in the Mediterranean. Suddenly, Freya realizes how much she loves him and throws her arms around him. "Do not go, Ulysses. I have a presentiment of evil," she tells him. When he leaves, she cries, "Oh, I love him. I love him!"
Ulysses takes the boat and the Germans to the designated point in the Mediterranean only to learn that they are refueling a U-boat. Although he is concerned about what he has done, he can do nothing at this point except put it out of his mind.
Because of their concern about Ulysses' affair with Freya, Toni and "Uncle" Caragol tell his wife what is going on. The next morning, she finds a note from their son, Esteban. He overheard the conversation with Toni and "Uncle" Caragol and has gone to Naples to look for his father.
When Ulysses returns to Naples, he gets two disturbing bits of information from the landlady Freya is gone, and his son was there looking for him but left word he is returning to Barcelona.
Ulysses books passage on a French steamer to Marseilles so he can join the Mare Nostrum. While on board one evening, wireless reports come in that a passenger ship, the Californian, which was bound for Barcelona, has been sunk by a German U-boat. The French steamer heads for the site to pick up any survivors. One survivor, a young man, tells of his friend who died when the torpedo hit. He says the boy was the son of a Capt. Ulysses Ferragut. With that, Ulysses faints.
Ulysses spends weeks in Marseilles recuperating. One day he receives a note that says he will "learn something vital to his happiness" if he comes to a certain address. He does, and finds Freya there. She knows Dr. Fedelmann has betrayed her to the French because of her love for Ulysses. She begs Ulysses to take her away before she is caught. He refuses, still laying much of the blame for his son's death on her.
As he leaves, he encounters Count Kaledine charging that he is responsible for his son's death. Kaledine knocks him to the ground and runs away. Ulysses follows shouting, "Spy, spy!" A crowd joins in the pursuit, and Kaledine is finally caught and taken into custody by the authorities.
As retribution for the assistance he gave the Germans, Ulysses dedicates the Mare Nostrum to the service of the French. The ship is outfitted with guns and a maiden voyage to deliver munitions is undertaken.
Prior to leaving, he learns that Freya is to be executed. At first he is upset, but, when he thinks about his son, he determines to forget her and continue his voyage. Later, we see her executed by a firing squad.
It is a very stormy night, and the ship is being tossed around mercilessly. "Uncle" Caragol comes in with some mail that he says was thrown on board prior to their departure. In it is a farewell note from Freya.
Unknown to Ulysses and his crew, the same U-boat that sunk the Californian is stalking them. In spite of the storm, it is able to torpedo the Mare Nostrum. The submarine comes to the surface as the Mare Nostrum is sinking. Ulysses mans the large gun that was installed on his ship and manages to blast the submarine and sink it before he and his ship go under.
In a beautiful sequence, we see Ulysses lose his grip on a floating mast and slip beneath the sea. He falls slowly through the water to his watery grave, but, below, the beautiful Amphitritie (Freya?) is waiting for him with open arms. She caresses and kisses him as the final scene fades.
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copyright 1999 by Tim Lussier, all rights reserved