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Das Boot
Year:
1981
Country:
West Germany
Genre:
Drama, Thriller, Action, Adventure, History, War
IMDB rating:
8.4
Director:
Wolfgang Petersen
Jürgen Prochnow as Capt.-Lt. Henrich Lehmann-Willenbrock - Der Alte
Herbert Grönemeyer as Lt. Werner - Correspondent
Klaus Wennemann as Chief Engineer Fritz Grade - Der Leitende-Der LI
Hubertus Bengsch as 1st Lieutenant - Number One-1WO
Martin Semmelrogge as 2nd Lieutenant - 2WO
Bernd Tauber as Kriechbaum - Chief Quartermaster-Navigator
Erwin Leder as Johann
Martin May as Ullman
Heinz Hoenig as Hinrich (as Heinz Hönig)
Uwe Ochsenknecht as Chief Bosun
Jan Fedder as Pilgrim
Ralf Richter as Frenssen
Joachim Bernhard as Preacher
Storyline: It is 1942 and the German submarine fleet is heavily engaged in the so-called "Battle of the Atlantic" to harass and destroy British shipping. With better escorts of the destroyer class, however, German U-boats have begun to take heavy losses. "Das Boot" is the story of the crew of one such U-Boat, with the film examining how these submariners maintained their professionalism as soldiers and attempted to accomplish impossible missions, all the while attempting to understand and obey the ideology of the government under which they served.
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Reviews
Extraordinary. One of the best submarine movies ever made.
Wolfgang Peterson writes and directs this gritty war drama concerning the trials and tribulations of a German U-boat during World War II. One of the most authentic and gripping war movies ever made. Staunch and fearless U-boat captain Henrich Lehmann-Willenbrock(Jurgen Prochnow)takes a green-around-the-gills crew to sea as they patrol the Atlantic and Mediterranean to seek out and destroy Allied vessels. The inexperienced crew will carry out their laborious and mundane duties in cramped quarters as they await to go into action for their Fuhrer. The sub becomes the prey as it dives to extreme depths to silently await their possible death via bombarding depth charges. The U-boat fleet has already begun to take heavy loses. The dutiful commander will do his best to limp his sub to port for a heroes welcome. Riveting battle scenes. The cast also features: Klaus Wennemann, Herbert Gronemeyer, Bernd Tauber, Ralph Richter, Claude-Oliver Rudolph and Jan Fedder. DAS BOOT, a critical success and deserving of all accolades.
2011-08-12
superlative!
Yep, seems like almost universal praise here, and there's little else to say, but Das Boot (director's cut) really is that good. Just some of the reasons:

1. Jürgen Prochnow put forth an acting performance that qualifies as one of the best ever in any movie, and more than half of it could be found in his facial expressions and quietude alone. Of course, when he lets his emotions loose at certain pivotal moments in the film, the audience is spellbound, and Prochnow commands the scenes of the movie as surely as his character commands the ship and its crew. This character is intricate in the extreme, but almost never overtly so.

2. The movie snowballs into one of the most intense and addicting film experiences I've ever come across. At three and 1/2+ hours, it manages to become more and more engaging. There are moments (especially towards the end) where the tempo of the movie is so fine-tuned that one is impelled to stare at the screen and become emotionally fused, as it were, with the plight of the characters.

3. Related to #1, the casting for the film was such that personalities came forth in faces alone at times. Secondary characters with few lines are given the benefit of personality and even character development through their actions and faces, combined with the little scrapings of dialogue each of them gets. We almost empirically know what these people are like. Dialogue is very important in this movie, but the physical characteristics of the actors match ALL of the characters' personalities so well here that one suspects that these people aren't acting. And really, that's what it's all about, right? That we should not realize that this is just make-believe? We see funny people, serious people, tired people, uptight people...it all works perfectly well. Great, natural acting by all.

4. The steady-cam claustrophobia betrays genuine craft in the direction of this movie. One gets the feeling of a cramped space throughout the film. Likewise, within this small space, there is still room for direction, and the composition of the shots are all superb. Another thing: the film quality is very clean for a movie that was made in 1983, and stands up to today's work well - this movie doesn't really date itself visually, which is a rare thing.

5. The story line and dialogue were original and completely realistic. There are few words uttered and few moments in the movie that I wouldn't have believed. It steers clear of some of the gross exaggerations of certain Hollywood-style war films, both in heroic dialogue and also during person-to-person banter while characters are just hanging around off-duty.

6. The representation of boredom is an interesting concept in this film, and one that Hollywood is usually uncomfortable with. Here, we see moments where the crew simply sits around doing nothing, and the film, for some of these moments, goes nowhere with them - stalling out in the middle of the ocean. Is this a bad thing? No. It's an objective construction of the boredom of NOT seeing constant action, and the director takes the time to do it right, without blatantly telling the audience, "ok, the character is bored here. See that? Right. Next scene. Now we're going to make something interesting happen right away". And you know what? The boredom of the crew is fascinating to behold.

7. The set was a masterpiece. A near perfect recreation, and weathered and propped perfectly down to the last detail.

8. The music was low-key enough that it didn't intrude on the organic drama going on in the picture. I'm not crazy about the score, but at least it wasn't hitting me over the head every twenty seconds. It is sparse, and incidental sound in general in the re-master was really impressive, and is the real sonic contributor much more so than the music.

9. The subject matter is great - a very subjective thing, but aren't U-Boats and the Atlantic War just interesting? I think so. And I'm glad that U-571 isn't the only movie out there about them - because it did absolutely nothing as far as showing what LIVING was like inside of one. 'Das Boot' made this factor absolutely integral to the nature of the movie, and for that, it's unequaled by any war film save perhaps the Finnish movie 'Talvisota'.

If you haven't seen it, please do. It's an important and excellent film.
2003-07-08
Das Best
Quite simply the best war film ever made. Das Boot nearly got made in the United States, with Robert Redford (!) in the starring role as the submarine's captain. Thank goodness it didn't; instead it went to a German production company with the then largely unknown Wolfgang Petersen and Jurgen Prochnow directing and starring respectively.

Petersen brings an obsessive level of detail to the screen, recreating the U-boat down to quite literally the last rivet and creating an extraordinary sense of claustrophobia - I've never experienced anything quite like it in the cinema. The effect is greatly enhanced by the sound, which is up there with "Saving Private Ryan" in terms of convincing you that you're in the middle of a battle. It really has to be experienced in a cinema, although you might get away with using a really good sound system at home (get the DVD Director's Cut version for this).

Even more remarkable is the cast. Prochnow is the highlight, of course, as the quietly heroic captain of the boat. But the rest of the cast - largely stage actors appearing on screen for the first time, or complete unknowns - are equally remarkable: Erwin Leder (in his first appearance on screen) is a standout as the veteran Chief Engineer, Johann, who faces a crisis of courage when the boat comes under attack. There really isn't a single performance that you can fault.

So is there anything actually *wrong* with Das Boot? Some of the external shots are distinctly unconvincing, quite obviously being of model ships and projected backdrops. (Blame that on film technology circa 1981). The film does have a tendency to drag a bit in a few places - the section where the crew go ashore in Vigo is a case in point. Above all, steer well clear of the dubbed version, even though the dubbing into English is done by many of the original cast - this is a film which absolutely must be seen in the original German (with subtitles).

However, these are minor quibbles when the rest of the film is so good. There are very few films that I would instantly rate a 10, but this is one of them.
2000-08-24
One of the finest war movies ever made
Actually it does not do the movie justice to call it a war movie. The war movie genre doesn't lend itself to many classics. For me the movie is about male camaraderie in the face of grim, overwhelming circumstances. The stoic captain maintains discipline below the waves despite everything. He is perfectly cast. It is one of those few movies that actually improves with each viewing. Apart from the above, the movie is also interesting in that it is from the German viewpoint (and made by Germans). The acting is superb and the scenes realistic. As with most foreign language movies, it should be watched subtitled. (Although the movie makes we want to go out and learn German, just to experience the movie more fully)
2005-02-08
You have to have good men. Good men, all of them.
If I had the time to take this movie door-to-door and sit down with everyone in America to watch this film, I would. Everyone needs to realize that I have a fascination with submarine films. I loved The Hunt for Red October and Crimson Tide. Both of them rank as my top action films. I don't know why I love this genre so much. I think it has to do somewhat with my passion for sci-fi. The ocean is almost like fighting in another world. So many times we have seen wars play out on land, and while there is only so much you can show with a land fight, the war field on the open sea allows for so much more creativity.

Director Wolfgang Peterson gives us some great characters. While not much dialogue happens in this film, you can see everyone's expressions on their faces, and those expressions tell better stories than words. You can see their fear, their excitement, their sadness, and their power by just the way that Peterson directs them. With his direction, I felt that I was on this U-Boat with the crew. Peterson perfectly portrays a feeling of crampness and claustrophobia wrapped together as one. I think that during one of the bombing scenes I broke a sweat because of what was happening on screen.

Finally, I am also a fan of films that tell a different angle on the story. So many years I have watched war movie after war movie that show the victorious American's beating the classic "evil-doers". Now don't get me wrong, these are fun sometimes, but I love to see a different angle. In history class we didn't learn about the casualties of the Germans in WWII. We learn about them as a statistic, and never put these heroes on a human level. This film humanizes the German's conditions during the war. The Germans are human being also, who fought for their country just as valiantly as our soldiers did during WWII. They had families, they had pasts, they had homes that they left to become a part of history. To fight for your beliefs. That is what America teaches us, fight for what we believe in....doesn't it?

I could talk about this for hours, but instead I am going to sit back, relax, and tell you how wonderful Das Boot was to watch. I have not been this entertained for a long time. Bravo to everyone involved in this film. I think it IS the best war film ever released (that I have seen). I want everyone to get out of their seats this weekend and go rent this movie. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.

Grade: ***** out of *****
2004-09-25
bloody brilliant
all i can say is..

i love this film...

this movie and others like Stalingrad, cross of iron and downfall, to name a few, are more entertaining and "gritty" than all the pro alliance Gung-ho for America movies that have been churned out since the end of the second world war. i say this not as a political point but as an honest opinion...

how many times can you sit and watch America/england with America take the beaches etc... the Germans were in the war too... my granddad even said that a bridge too far wasn't realistic and he WAS THERE IN ARNHAM. all the political correctness seems to have overridden the basic truth in movies, if it is based on real events then make it real... Das Boot gave you the claustrophobic feeling of being in a 1940's Uboat in the north sea/Atlantic ocean, hunting whilst being hunted.

the acting is suburb and the tension between the actors at times is brilliant. truly capturing what it might have been like in the sub.

i would recommend this movie to anyone. regardless of their movie reference.
2005-09-03
Wunderbar !!
Well - a very exciting movie with very good attention to detail. I liked the German with English subtitles - the dubbed version didn't have the impact their language provides. Some beautiful scenes and some very scary scenes. J. Prochnow was the perfect choice for the Kapitan. What was also very good - was the dialog in which they criticize their own leaders & make no pretense about their doubts about the war. The ending bothered me in that the boat he loved sank before his very eyes. But - in the German Navy - the submariners suffered the highest casualty rate. Of the 35,000 submarine sailors - barely 4,000 ever survived the war. But - this is a movie I could watch over & over again. Cannot say that about too many other movies. Very good directing & cinematography. Wish they'd make more films like this. Want to discuss it - I'm at ml2348@att.com
2007-01-27
Wolfgang is amazing....
The underwater battles somewhat remind me of Sergio Leone in that Wolfgang Peterson takes forever and a day to get the fights started. Unlike Leone, once the torpedos are launched and the depth charges dropped, the cat-and-mouse game is ongoing and relentless, but never boring.

And despite the fact that most of the film takes place inside a cramped submarine, Das Boot is never boring to look at; in fact, it's a visually spectacular film (given the dated special effects, who hold up reasonably well and add to the old-school charm). And the freedom of the camera in those tight corridors came as an incredibly pleasant surprise. The color and composition of the shots in those tight quarters -- particularly upon approaching the first destroyer when we get the first real glimpse of the interior prepped for war -- it is both haunting and beautiful.

Jurgen Prochnow delivers the most believable performance of a ship captain I've ever seen on film. All the emotions register on his face--his concern for his own life, ship, and crew; his hatred for the decisions he's forced to make; the disbelieving joy of beating the overwhelming odds--while simultaneously holding it back so the crew sees a strong unmoving man forever in control of the situation. His performance is, in a word, brilliant.

The rest of the cast also delivers amazingly believable performances, and trust me, I could write an entire review on the film's characters and their portrayals. It's both disappointing and satisfying that I'm not given enough space to do so (I wish I could state that about a tenth of the films I've reviewed here on IMDb.) I liked the entire crew of this U-boat, the war correspondent and his character arc as he realizes the truth behind these "heroes", the chief and his longing to return to his wife, Johann and the story of his redemption--all well cast, well acted, and believable.

Another aspect I adored about Das Boot - the controversial scenes simply rolled by with no more or less emphasis than any other statement the film makes. In fact, I saw the film before really reading anything or researching it and found myself somewhat shocked to hear about these "talked about" scenes. Granted, the film does pose some moral questions, but I felt the film handled it with grace and great subtlety, showing what it needs to get the point across and not a step further . . . unlike typical Hollywood where controversy gets bold print, italics, and a highlighter. Maybe I should move to Germany.
2012-03-14
Gripping, Compelling, Intense, Suspenseful, Realistic
"Das Boot" is a classic. This film couldn't be more intense and emotionally draining. It is a work of genius. Jurgen Prochnaw gives a spectacular performance as the German U-Boat Captain. The acting is first rate as the cast of characters is as realistic and believable as it gets. Don't watch this film unless you are absolutely prepared to immerse yourself into the drama of life as a crewman aboard a German submarine during war. This is a very rare portrayal of battle through the eyes of our enemy and will actually have you cheering for the "bad guys" at times. This is a one of a kind movie that must be seen to be believed. Words in a review cannot describe the experience of "Das Boot." A tremendous film! A 12 on a scale of 10!
2004-07-29
Packing, genuinely, overwhelming!
Using the term 'authenticity' in connection with any kind of art is rather difficult and daring as well. Sometimes it looks posed or is by certain purposes manipulated. Referring to Petersen´s "Das Boot" however, I consider it justified to call it authentic and true. I think this statement can be strengthened mainly by the fact that Lothar Gunther Buchheim was consulted. He composed the novel this breathtaking movie bases on and he himself was employed as a war correspondent in the Second World War.

The entire plot has no weak points. Starting at "Bar Royal" at the very night before the forces living journey of the submarine crew begins, the director fittingly manages to confront the audience with the protagonists and their way of dealing with the pounding uncertainty. Once put to sea, the character of the scenes changes abruptly. Every member of the crew and the audience as well comes into very close contact with the tightness of the action space. At this point it is necessary to underline the excellent work of the cameramen. The fast and partial hectic cuts draw an exact picture of the drama on board. Too do not forget the outstanding lighting. However besides this abundance of obvious suspense, there are also a number of moments going into in-depth psychology and thoughtfulness. To outline only a few of them: At "Bar Royal", when the chief engineer reflects about the uncertain fate of his family, or when the captain, with a kind of 'Weltschmerz' in his eyes, is astound and proud of the unbelievable efforts of the crew. It would probably be too laborious to refer to the decisive symbols the director uses, therefore I recommend this movie to everybody, especially those who are interested in the Second World War.

It presumably sounds pretty weird, yet I suppose that mankind gladly participates on the misfortune of others, without being closely involved with it. This closing notion may account for the huge success of this movie.>
2000-01-25
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