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Year:
1981
Country:
West Germany
Genre:
Drama, Thriller, Action, Adventure, History, War
IMDB rating:
8.4
Director:
Wolfgang Petersen

 

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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
Das Boot 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
Probably the greatest WWII naval movie
This is an amazing achievement, and it's obvious because it is one of the only German language films to receive widespread distribution in American theaters since the silent era. It was just that good! When it came to America, the movie was cut down a little from it's original HUGE length and it was released in both dubbed and subtitled versions.

The film is about a single WWII German U-boat and it follows it through a very hazardous mission until it eventually makes it back to port. While this may not sound very interesting, it certainly is, as the movie is less a traditional movie but an experience meant to instill in the audience the daily life and horror of serving on one of these submarines. For example, when the sub is being pursued, you find yourself tense, on edge and feeling the claustrophobia of the crewmen. Viscerally, it is an amazing film and remains a true and faithful film--the crew is extraordinary but they are hardly romanticized--they are just men doing their best to stay alive! To top all this off, when the movie concludes, there is the most fitting and inspired ending I have seen in a war film. Like anything you've seen from Hollywood? No way--this is like real life in all its starkness and terror.
2006-07-12
A must see masterpiece
It is an excellent film.I saw it the first time in Germany and I've seen it a lot of more times,even though it is a very long film. This kind of films prove that movies can also be made outside of Hollywood. It is a piece of art , more than a commercial movie,and that is what makes Petersen such a good director in this film.

I felt I was at that submarine together with those heroic sailors. It's true that they were fighting for the wrong side,but that was the real war.Those men were human beings trying to survive in a war they couldn't understand,but they fought for their country,families and honor. I never saw such a realistic war film.The closest was Saving Private Ryan.

Also Prochnow was great and the rest of the cast,too. Congratulations to Wolfgang Petersen!!!!
2006-02-22
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
Best war movie, ever.
I've seen a fair number of war movies, but none can come close to "Das Boot." I saw it first in theaters when it was first released, in German with subtitles (great); saw it again in theaters, dubbed in English (awful); and then just saw it on the DVD director's cut with subtitles (excellent). The last was definitely the best.

No war movie has ever captured the reality of the soldier's experience like this one. It's a submarine movie, so of course you're going to get the stock scenes of destroyers on the surface, tense men listening to the sonar ping, depth charges, diving deeper and deeper, etc. But it is so much more convincing in this movie than in any other in its genre ("Run Silent, Run Deep" and "The Enemy Below" come to mind).

But don't expect non-stop wall-to-wall action; the realism of the movie comes through in depicting the long periods of time when there was nothing to do: cruising through stormy seas, wandering about with no particular task or mission, the frustrations of the crew after weeks of inaction, etc. As a movie, this presents a problem because the viewer is taken through all that time in somewhat realistic fashion, which in turn makes the film long and not quite as gripping.

The real punch of the movie, though, are the characters, their life on board, their hopes for a successful cruise and a return to normalcy. The actors do a fantastic job, all of them, but the captain and the chief engineer are probably the best, along with the journalist on board. The best scene, one which I remembered clearly ever since I first saw it in 1981, was the one where the sub crew goes on board the supply ship at Christmas time; the stark contrast between these rough, slimy, smelly crewmen and the polished, uniform-clad, hair combed and slicked officers on the supply ship, was just phenomenal. To think that some men went through the war in hell like the submariners, while others basically lived like kings, is just too painful to really comprehend.

The ending is very creative, very surprising, and emotionally devastating. After seeing Das Boot, I can't ever bring myself to watch any other submarine movie.

I give it 9.5/10 stars; just barely on the edge of a perfect 10, but not quite.
2008-01-10
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
What an awesome movie !
Hey,

This film here is incredible for it's time to say the least. I own the director's cut DVD-9 and what an upgrade compared to the VHS with all the extras. Jurgen always does a fine job as a lead actor, most of the crew on aboard the U-boat are relative unknown German actors at that time in '81, I must say they really did a fine job on making the suspense and the overall feeling really real. I mean, if you have a 5.1 surround sound stereo in your house, you feel the adrenaline, the sound of depth charges hitting the water, the stress and anxiety of the crew. In a word, awesome ! This movie isn't just for WWII war fanatics alone. It a good movie about people working together under an unbelievable amount of stress.
2006-07-14
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
15 years and I'm still thinking about it
Das Boot is not just a great war film: it's a great film period. Maybe it is true that epic themes make the greatest novels and films. Here is a movie that explores heroism, duty, patriotism, hope, fear and the futility of war--all grand themes--explored in the confined, and collapsing, spaces of a German u-boat.

I saw this film when I was a freshman in college during a weekend that I later dubbed my "depressing movie festival." (The Wall and Apocalypse Now were the other weekend "entries.") Of these films, it was Das Boot that haunted me--when I laid down at night, I saw Jurgen Proctow's pained blue eyes. When I woke in the morning, I felt as if I were escaping through the hatch of the submarine. I could not shake the images, and now some fifteen years later, I still remember how completely meaningless the movie made everything seem, and the nihilistic message stayed with me for a long, long time. How few films are there which affect the viewers on this level. To say this film is "powerful" seems so weak a description.

Part of the "power" of the film comes, I think, from a certain restraint in the direction. So often, films which aspire to move the audience quickly fall into melodrama, over-acting, and overblown images. Too much. These often succeed in the immediate response (usually crying) but fail to impact the viewer on anything more than a surface level. Here, it is the small moments which fill the screen. Everywhere, all around is War, but for these men as we witness them, war does not begin with a capital "W". It is reality, not a grand concept. The director lets the story shock and horrify the audience, not by forcing it, but by letting the story just tell itself. Drama, tension and resolution occur naturally in Das Boot, which contributes to the very real impact of the film.

Story is a 10, direction is a 10, acting is a 10 and the cinematography is a 10. One of the all-time greatest films.
1999-09-08
The real deal.
Not only the best submarine film ever made, but easily one of the most realistic pictures of a sailor's life you'll ever run across. If you've done that, rest assured that nothing in this film will insult your intelligence. This is the submarine movie to judge all others by.
2002-01-03
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
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