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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
One of My Top 5 Movies EVER
I come from a family of submariners. My grandfather commanded a sub in the Pacific during WW2, and my dad went on to do nearly 30 years as crew and finally skipper in a nuke hunter/killer. So I kinda know the history of subs 1st hand. This movie pulls no punches and is stunningly accurate. It is a work of genius from one of the greatest directors of our time.

I must qualify that by saying PLEASE don't watch the dubbed English version. This film has to be seen in German with subtitles, and you absolutely have to see the director's cut. Three and a half hours of laughter, terror, claustrophobia, tenderness, and finally a sense of the futility of war. It's just brilliant.

Jürgen Prochnow has made some good films in his career, but he will never better this performance. He is the epitome of a sub captain. Steely, yet sensitive to his crew. Determined and sometimes rash, but always in control, and the love of his crew for him is clear throughout. Even I would follow him until the end!!

I kinda feel bad about praising Jürgen Prochnow so highly because, seriously, this is one of the few movies I've seen where EVERY member of the cast is just perfect. All credit to the casting people. You would not change anyone. Bernd Tauber as the Chief is just awesome. Erwin Leder as Johann is just so right, and Herbert Grönemeyer as the raw reporter who grows up is amazing.

This film should be up there with the greatest war movies of all time. Unfortunately, I think because it's told from the German side, it will never get the recognition it truly deserves. Very sad, as it never glorifies Nazism. It's simply a tale of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances - which kinda sums up all wars.

Incredible film from an incredible director.
2012-04-21
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
True authentic war film.
This is one of the few. One of the very few war films that actually capture the essence of what it is like being a man involved in conflict.

Few war films today actually show us true human beings. These new age war films are too busy trying to be flashy with explosions and guns going off everywhere. Not to mention the use of practical effects is a lost art. Most films are just digitizing elements in. You lose feeling and perspective. Most war films today do not take the time to show us character development, or give us a chance to relate to the people we are about to embark on a great journey with.

DAS BOOT is not one of those films. Possibly one of the greatest films ever made. Make sure you watch the extended directors cut. It is a sad reflection on what some of the U boat crews had to endure out in the Atlantic ocean, fighting a war they were losing support for. A chilling film that I have watched time and time again, and I always enjoy.

There should be more films like this. Sadly, it is not a commercial film and the masses of today would find it slow and boring.

If your attention span is that of a 5 year old on a sugar high, skip this film, it's intelligence and brilliance will be lost on you. But if you are one for character development and seeing what emotional stresses and obstacles real human characters face during war, this is for you.
2015-02-26
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
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
Hunters or hunted?
Probably the main reason that "Das Boot" is so great is because it shows that the men in the submarine aren't really Nazis: they were just drafted. But once the submarine dives, then the suspense sets in. Capt. Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock (Jurgen Prochnow) leads his men on a voyage of adventure and terror alike. As the viewer, you feel like you're in the submarine, getting attacked from all sides. Rarely do you see the kind of intensity that you see in this movie. Overall, it makes us question the idea of who's good and who's bad in wartime. It's widely agreed that the Axis Powers were the bad guys in WWII, but the men here don't hold Nazi ideology; we sympathize with them every step of the way. A great movie.
2006-03-14
down to the sea in ships
When I heard that a German WW2 story was being filmed I wondered how they would portray themselves....This was one of the most amazing movies I have ever seen...you feel as if YOU are part of the crew, you will live or die in a small steel cylinder around 100 feet long. This movie takes the books antiwar bend and uses it to probe the heart and soul of each of us who see this film.... As many of us no know first hand there are no real hero's on any side just men doing what has been asked of them... In this movie these "nasty vile Natzis" turn out to be mostly just human beings trying to survive as we were back then. WAR IS HELL.......a living breathing hell that you shall carry along with you the rest of your days on earth. This film pulls no punches it speaks right to you...."We are humans to we have the right to survive and live a life" Both myself and most all I know were deeply moored by this film see it in German first ( English subtitles) then try the English version.... This is a war action story that is as great a anti-war story as was All Quiet on the Western Front! May GOD someday bless us all with a time without war and bloody conflict.
2005-02-17
Masterpiece
I'm happy about the fact that this movie gets still this big attention. Even if it is already 25 years ago when it came to the theaters worldwide I'm surprised and happy, that the movie made such a huge impression to a lot of people everywhere. This is not usual for a German movie and less usual for a German WW2 movie. I've seen "Das Boot" a lot of times over the years and I'm still impressed by the pure and realistic atmosphere in it. The actors are brilliant and for a lot of them "Das Boot" was the start of a big career in the European or German cinema or TV. One of them - Herbert Gronemeyer - was already a pop star at the beginning of his career in Germany 25 years ago. Today he is one of the most successful stars in the German music scene... he makes good music but unfortunately only music. His character was, except of Prochnows role, my favorite one, but unfortunately we'll never see more of his acting talent. Here in Munich you can visit the Bavaria Studios where they've filmed the movie. And you can still make a walk through the submarine.... claustrophobic feelings included, because it's very narrow inside. At the latest then you realize how complicated it must have been to film the movie.

To cut a long story short: One of my all time favorite movies!
2006-12-14
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
A Nutshell Review: Das Boot: The Director's Cut (1981)
This is touted as one of the best WWII submarine films of all time, and it's not difficult to understand why. From the story to the cast, from the cinematography to the sound, everything's top notch on this German film directed by Wolfgang Petersen (who's now helming more Hollywood flicks). I'd rate it above U-571, K19: The Widowmaker, Crimson Tide, and The Hunt for Red October.

We follow the exploits of the crew of German U-boat U-96, as it gets sent on its mission to destroy Allied convoys. We learn of the frustrations of inaction, having no targets, and living the lonely life aboard a submarine. We experience the claustrophobic environment, one which is shared amongst crew, where maintaining hygiene and tolerable living conditions is of the utmost importance of staying well. We pick up on the fear of the Captain about his inexperienced crew, most of whom were in their early twenties, and haven't seen much action in the high seas.

What's gripping in this film is when things start to pick up. Technology those days aren't as advanced, and we see that U-boats are more likely to be sitting ducks when Allied destroyers hover above them on the water's surface, dropping multiple depth charges to rattle and hopefully destroy their underwater prey. The U-boat is the hunter, but once it has hunted, it becomes the prey.

And such is the marvellous depiction of Fear in the crew's eyes, as they huddle in silence each time the enemy lurks above. The suspense literally keeps you at the edge of your seat, the silence, deafening. Many set action pieces bring out the different scenarios and challenges that the crew face in their voyage on the seas, and all these capped by the beautiful soundtrack which accompanies each scene. My favourite was the charge through Gilbratar.

Although this movie takes on an Axis power's point of view, one can discard the political aspect of this film, and understand that lives on both ends are similar - each are fathers, brothers, husbands, and are thrown into a senseless political war. It doesn't go preachy on who's right and wrong, but touches on more human and basic issues of survival. Boys become men, and it is this transformation that is most obvious throughout the story.

If you've got the chance, you must see the Director's Cut, running at about 209 minutes, just as Wolfgang Petersen envisioned it to be. Excellent stuff!
2005-10-31
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