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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
Nerve racking
Das Boot is one of the most emotionally involving movies I have ever seen. The characters are developed richly, without those awkward moments in movies when you realize that the director is doing so. You sympathize with the crew, and FEEL their plight as they struggle, cramped in a rickety U-boat against the odds. At times the movie grows slow and drawn out, but that is intentional- to make you feel like you are trapped in an underwater coffin with nothing to do, no where to go. The directing is great, the sound is fabulous! I've never heard faint noises tell a story like this before.
2000-04-18
Germany's Best Film to Date!
Let's face Germany has a dangerous past. This story is about men aboard a submarine during World War II. I saw it dubbed in English. I would have preferred subtitles and listened to the original German language being spoken. This film is completely German made with German actors. Of course, the story is not lost in translation. These men have to fight for their country regardless of whether they support their government. It's really about young men who could be any one of us in their position. You have to ask yourself what are you to do if you have no choice. I was a little disturbed when one of them stated that he was molested by six of the other guys like a ritual hazing ceremony to another officer. It was as if an unofficial initiation ceremony and disturbing as well. In war, you could see young men killing and dying and you wonder what it was all for anyway. It's still Germany's best film to date.
2007-02-24
Good guys - bad guys (Caution - spoilers)
I find the most intriguing aspect of this movie is the way, no matter where you are from, you end up pulling for these guys and hope they make it. I am not a veteran of any war, and not old enough for WW2, but my dad fought against the Axis and they were his mortal enemies, but this movie shows how young boys are just the cannon fodder of wars, while the men who started it were the real enemy, the real evil. These were kids that just wanted a lady at their side and a bottle of booze with them, as were all soldiers from any army. We, America, Great Britain, France etc., fought the Nazis, not Germany, not the people, certainly not the kids. I actually was saddened by the British raid at the end of the movie, even though Britain was an ally and to this day one of my country's closest friends. A great many of the soldiers and seamen, on both sides, weren't good guys or bad guys, just brave kids who did what they were told to do. One day maybe the men who start these things will end up in a cramped, stinking U-boat, and see first hand what their actions lead to. Anyway, I can't believe how much I pulled for "the enemy".
2006-12-04
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
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
Absolutely Fantastic
This is, perhaps, the best war film ever made. This may seem to be a little over the top, considering its opposition, but I feel that what this film lacks in special effects is more than made up for by the depth of its characters and the sheer claustrophobic suspense of the final hour. Das Boot is a very faithful adaptation of the original book (which is fantastic as well), and is best viewed in its original German, but with English subtitles (assuming you are not German!). As a proud resident of Great Britain, you can understand how easy it is to hate the members of the U-boat fleet for what they did to so many crews in our Merchant Navy. Despite this, it is easy to contemplate how terrible an experience life in a U-boat was. After having watched this masterpiece, I felt (and still do feel) that the sheer boredom and terror of U-boat life was far worse than that experienced by allied surface crews. This is not meant to disrespect anyone, but is meant to provide an accurate comparison.Other War films about the Battle of the Atlantic (e.g. "The Cruel Sea", "In Which We Serve" & "Sink the Bismark') are based almost entirely from the Allied perspective, and almost all Germans are portrayed as cold-blooded murderers. Das Boot is unique among movies of its genre in that it is based entirely around the Germans, but also that it does not portray any side to be morally superior. Das Boot's main theme seems to be the futility of war itself. The acting throughout is superb, and the set is highly effective at communicating the claustrophobia, cold and stench of the inside of a submarine. The soundtrack is uniquely chilling and thrilling, and simply adds to the rich feeling and accuracy of the plot. There have been far too few films made about the U-boat crews during the Second World War, but since Das Boot, it seems as though no others are necessary. This film is absolutely fantastic, and richly deserves its rating of 10 out of 10!!!
2004-03-13
Incredibly Intense WWII Submarine Action Drama
In 1941, Britain and Germany are battling for control of crucial Atlantic supply routes. German submarine U-96 leaves the French port of La Rochelle; its mission, to inflict as much damage as possible on cargo-ship convoys.

This is a unique movie and for my money one of the best war pictures ever made. Whilst maintaining a very high level of drama and suspense for a long film, it also seems so real and credible, and the filmmakers went to great lengths to convey this authenticity. It is based on an autobiographical novel by Lothar-Günther Buchheim who was a real-life war correspondent. The stunning submarine set by Rolf Zehetbauer was built with incredible attention to period detail and as an enclosed space, restricting the camera-work but adding tremendously to the crucial atmosphere of confinement. The great cast gave everything to the picture (for example, they were not allowed out in the sun during the shooting) and their transformation as it progresses into haggard, bearded, weary ghosts is startling and unsettling. Prochnow is stunning as the unnamed Captain; a man who has the respect of his crew yet is essentially alone, but the entire ensemble are brilliant - I especially like Wennemann (the chief engineer), Tauber (the navigator) and Hoenig (the radio-operator) all of whom give quiet, thoughtful, understated performances, very atypical in an epic movie filled with action. The eerily effective use of sound adds to the movie's tension, and there is brilliant claustrophobic camera-work by Jost Vacano. The depiction of the crew's struggles - alternating intolerable boredom with sheer terror when the alarm is raised, evading depth charges and destroyers, running dangerously deep to avoid detection, repairing the ship (literally everything breaks at some point), following suicidal orders - is the heart of the film. U-Boat crews had a one in four chance of surviving, and the movie's heartbreaking conclusion is deeply profound and moving, regardless of your views on World War II. This is a film about people, not politics, which is why it's such a great war movie. Shot as both a 145-minute feature released first, and as a six-hour TV miniseries screened later; this review is of an even better 200-minute version recut by Petersen and re-released in 1996.
2005-05-02
Plain excellence and one anti-war movie worth watching
The claustrophobic life of submarine soldiers relived - and in a way, portraying the tension and misery of every soldier and everyone in such tight a situation.

Having read the novel now for the second time, I'm still overawed by the suspense and fear of the situation U-boat sailors found themselves in. The novel is a very interesting read and in my opinion very well reflects the boredom and sudden tension those pitiful sailors found themselves in. The movie keeps closely to the storyline set by the novel. It is not a movie about German navy men. There is no glory but just the resentment of the way to fight a war in such a terrible situation. Still, the people were there to do the job - with terrible losses on any side. In that way, the situation reflects the life of soldier on any side of WW2 - or any conflict to that extent. Being put in such situation requires a lot of courage and belief in values - not the values set by the leadership but values of your own virtue. Still in me it just fortified the belief: Whatever you do in a war, you do the wrong thing.

The movie itself is extremely well done by any means. Historically accurate as the novel which was written down some decades after the end of WW2 by a innocent war reporter, so there is no space for false glorification but just the bare facts on life on a submarine during a war tour of duty are on display. By today's standards, most of the effects are still very good. Admittely, you can see the boat is a model when you compare closely wave heights and especially water bubble sizes to the boat. The interior shots are perfect with excellent lighting and really portraying the tightness which doesn't compare to living room quarters on today movies (OK, submarines have gained in size but come on!). Nearly a quarter century has passed since shooting, still the movie loses nothing of its fascination due to the excellent editing, shooting and acting. The actors are extremely well cast and resemble the original persons of the novel very well. Most of the actors are today top actors in Germany but at the time of shooting the movie they were relatively unknown. But they already had the skills to make them credible beyond doubt. The story of course is laid out by reality but it matches any good Hollywood yarn of today, reflecting the long weeks of boredom and inactivity changing in a second to full alertness on the attack and eventually sheer terror being hunted down by increasing Allied technical and tactical superiority.

Summing it up, this movie is definitely worth watching as it visualizes the terror of war, no matter which side one is on. It stands out as the prime anti-war movie in my opinion, giving the audience a lot of identification with the actors only to be put of by their final fate - and also by the atrocities they are committing - on purpose or not. 10/10 for sure.
2005-11-03
German masterpiece
This film is really a masterpiece in history of the German film industry. Although it is quite long with over 3 hours, it is worth seeing it and by the way, one never gets bored. Instead, tension is built up throughout the entire film with outstanding acting of Jürgen Prochnow first of all and Herbert Grönemeyer and rest of the "crew"!!! It is really a must see film. I am not only saying it because I am half German myself, but because it is a second world war movie that doesn't focus on who are the good and who the bad. Its all about the people in the submarine trying to survive, far away from political attitudes. The ending could not be better, its simply a film of my taste. Its just so disappointing that current German film industry can't manage to do such great work again, except of last year's "Der Untergang"!!!!!
2006-01-15
Calustrophobia abounds!
Following an inexperienced German U-boat crew and their veteran commander during a tour of duty in the North Atlantic, Das Boot is a remarkable film about both submarine warfare and the Second World War. It does an unparalleled job of capturing the closeness of warfare under water, cramping both the actors and the camera into spaces that induce claustrophobia. This closeness does an excellent job of heightening the tension, which is a difficult thing to maintain in a movie of this nature.

Indeed the majority of the movie is concerned with the anxious waiting that the crew undergoes as they stalk the ocean for their prey. The day in and day out of waiting for the order to strike occupies a great deal of the film and though this might have been tedious in a lesser film, it is well handled through a combination of great acting and good writing. Through the pen of the naval journalist that accompanies the crew and through the visual description of the day to day life aboard the submarine the audience cannot help but join the crew in hoping for that final release of tension that comes with action.

Action does find the crew, taking them from victory to defeat quite rapidly. One of the most masterful sections of the film though comes when the boat becomes stuck on the bottom of the straits of Gibraltar. These scenes drip with the feelings of heavy, moist, over recycled air, and are shot through with the feeling of a desperately calm urgency, with so many of the boat's systems to repair and so little that most of the men can do to save themselves. What is captured could be described as a situation of great horror, undeniably trapped and beyond all hope of escape.

The film has an extremely powerful ending, with triumph turned tragedy in a brief, crowded moment. The joy of a return home is transformed into the sorrow of death in a statement to the ephemeral nature of victory, one that seems to be shot through the film.

The film seems to send a message about a war without politics, that while the reasons for a war may be intensely political, its execution is in the end a personal one. The film is intensely fair in its portrayal of German sailors, showing that not every German fighting man in the time was a Nazi. Even the ideological young lieutenant is portrayed as being more Naïve than anything else, avoiding the cliché of a ravening, two-dimensional Nazi, or even a world-blind fanatic.

Das Boot may be one of the finest war films ever made. It captures the feeling of its subject admirably, the claustrophobia and waiting of submarine warfare, the mixed joys of victory and defeat, and a sympathetic view towards all sides, something that can be difficult to attain in war films. A great film in general, with a powerful message, good cinematography, and fantastic acting.
2008-09-14
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