Das Boot
Dir: Wolfgang Petersen
Star: Jurgen Prochnow, Herbert Gronemeyer, Klaus Wennemann
Cert / Year: 15 - R / 1981
Format: DVD R2

La Rochelle, France, Autumn, 1941. Germay's vaunted U-boat fleet. with which Hitler hoped to blockade and starve out Britain, is beginning to suffer its first major setbacks. British freighters are now sailing with stronger and more effective destroyer escorts, inflicting heavy losses on the U-boats. Nevertheless the German High Command orders more and more U-boats, with even younger crews, into battle from their ports in occupied France.

The battle for control of the Atlantic is turning against the Germans.

40,000 German sailors served on U-Boats World War II.

30,000 never returned.

The introduction to the film (above) is basically all the background that you will need to the film as it is the story of U-boat, U-96 and one of it's patrols of the Atlantic. From the drunken but heartfelt speech of Captain Thomsen (Otto Sander) at a party for the new crews of the U-boats and a talk with his friend the captain of U-96 (Jurgen Prochnow) through to the dramatic and piteous end.

Forget whatever ridiculous historical inaccuracies some of you may have seen or even believed in the ludicrous U-571. Das Boot is adapted from the novel by Lothar-Gunther Bucheim, which is based upon real experiences by the author during his time as a captain of a U-boat. Bucheim used his logs and journals in writing the book which is an epic story of real life aboard a U-boat during World War II. An honest, harrowing and mostly terrifying story of the harsh reality of war and the conditions endured by the crews of these iron coffins. Das Boot offers us a chilling insight into the rarely seen side of World War II....That of the Germans.

The extraordinary lengths that Wolfgang Petersen went to in order to bring the realism of the book to the screen is obvioulsy painstaking. From minute details such as a photograph of Admiral Doenitz (Commander in Chief of the U-boat Force) and the eerie hue caused by diesel fumes which hang in the stale air of the boat, to the intrinsic detail of the perspiring interior metalwork adding to the clammy atmosphere. A tense thriller with taut and superb direction by Petersen. Das Boot is a poignant and gripping tale which is compelling viewing and a movie that is very hard to forget.

What strikes you whilst watching Das Boot is that it is a remarkably 3 dimensional and deeply atmospheric movie, feeling the tension of the crew with the water and the enemy above them. From the endless hours of claustrophobic boredom to the blind terror that ensues when they confront the enemy. The crew leave port as eager, fresh faced and innocent boys, only to return as bearded and haggard men stripped of their innocence after their experiences and just thankful to be alive.

When bringing Das Boot to the screen, Petersen had a "plan" which was to produce an epic war movie and a series of 1 hour long episodes which were to be broadcast on television in 6 segments. In order to bring the realism of the book to the screen all of the cast were trained by ex-submariners and replica U-boats were constructed from the original designs. Bucheim himself oversaw the project and frequently added his input to the adaptation, and became friends with (Jurgen Prochnow) (The Replacement Killers) who is in a word, fantastic as the Captain. You can feel the oppressive atmosphere of the boat, almost smell the diesel and feel the pounding of the engines in this cinematic masterpiece and most critically acclaimed war movie.

Upon release, Das Boot and Wolfgang Petersen were slammed hard by the critics in Germany but a year after it's release Das Boot received 6 Academy Award nominations and worldwide recognition soon followed.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Picture 1:1.85 Excellent quality picture
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Fantastically atmospheric
Features Entertaining and occasionally amusing full length commentary track by director Wolfgang Petersen, Star Jurgen Prochnow and Ortwin Freyermuth who produced the Directors Cut.
Very interesting making of featurette (covering the "original" and "directors cut")
Theatrical trailer
Verdict This version includes of over an hour of original footage re-intergrated back in and the addition of a completely new digital soundtrack. Admittedly the commentary track runs for the entire length of the film, which is in excess of 3 hours but it is well worth listening to.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Theme Back Top Home