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Download Das Boot 1981 Movie Legally
West Germany
Drama, Thriller, Action, Adventure, History, War
IMDB rating:
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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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.
Sub of the Day: Plenty of meat and no cheese
A lot of war films are heavy on patriotism. This one isn't, and that's what makes it special. Set in 1941, the film follows a German U Boat Captain and his crew in their mission to seek and destroy Allied forces convoys in the Atlantic. The Captain we learn, despises his political masters but as a career sub-mariner he ruthlessly adheres to the chain of command. The captain may view the crew as cogs in his machine but we get to know them as they spend their time cooped up together. The film really focuses on how various crew members cope with the extreme pressure situations that arise out of the captains' decision making. It is this human element that gives the film a timeless quality, it never feels dated and it also enables the viewer to really connect with the emotions that the captain and his crew are experiencing. In fact, it feels so real that you can almost feel the salt spray on your face as the boat races through the waves at full speed. Watch this one, you won't forget it.
Absolutely superb
I love War films, so why did I wait so long to see this amazing film? I don't know, but last week i picked it up in my local supermarket for a measly £5!. It was a wonderful, heartbreaking film. I never thought I'd be rooting for the Germans in a WWII film but I certainly was here, actually I was either on the edge of my seat or biting my nails through the whole 3hrs 20 minutes running time of my directors cut version . It was dubbed, but it was very well done. I hope there is or will be a special DVD version released with the original German speaking version with subtitles. I must also add the acting in this film was of the highest quality. I just found a film to add to my all time favourite movie list, its called DAS BOOT. 10/10
The best war movie ever made!!!
Writer-Director Wolfgang Peterson proves that he knows how to do his stuff. Forget Saving Private Ryan. This, along with Platoon and Apocalypse Now, are the ultimate war movies of all time. Superb direction from Peterson, almost impossible cinematography, great editing and sound design make this movie awesome. Made on a small budget of just $15m, Peterson insisted that he would film entirely inside a U-boat so that the entire cast and crew would get the real feeling of living in a U-boat. The results - the best war movie ever made. 11 out of 10!
Claustrophobic, Intense, and Excellent!
There are some films that have defined a new genre in cinematography. Wolfgang Petersen's epic "Das Boot" is one of them, as it has introduced the "submarine war film", a genre that later included hits such as "The Hunt for the Red October", "Crimson Tide", etc. However, although several fascinating films located in submarines have been produced to date, none can be compared to Petersen's masterpiece. "Das Boot", although nearly four hours long and set in basically the same location throughout its duration, is a breath-taking experience during which you are hooked to it from the first moment until the last.

"Das Boot" is the story of U-Boot captain Kapitanleutnant Henrich Lehmann-Willenbrock (Prochnow) a.k.a. "Der Alte", and his crew, while they carry out a mission in the Atlantic. The story is viewed through the eyes of war correspondent Lt. Werner (Gronemeyer), who is accompanying the crew in this mission; Werner is standing out as a total stranger in the beginning, but throughout the ordeal he eventually blends completely with the team and becomes an inseparable part of the whole. There are also other theoretically major characters in the film, such as Leitende Fritz Grade, the 1st and 2nd WO, etc., but in the end it boils down that in fact there is NO major character: The major character of the film is actually the U-Boot itself, and all the people inside it are simply parts of this "character".

Petersen delivers an amazingly claustrophobic atmosphere inside the U-Boot which looks like a human trap. (An example of the unbelievably cramped space is that when the officers are dining, the occasional sailor who needs to pass through asks for "permission to pass", and someone has to stand up to make room for him!). More importantly, he is studying exquisitely the personalities inside the U-Boot and their interactions. Several minor sub-plots develop throughout the film, but they simply serve to enhance the major plot, which is none other than the story of the submarine's mission, portrayed from beginning to end.

The movie graphically portrays the agony and terror of the crew as they go through their ordeal, as well as their gradual transformation from frightened kids to battle-hardened comrades-in-arms. You cannot escape from empathizing with them: When they almost asphyxiate due to insufficient oxygen, the viewer himself feels that he also needs to gasp for air...

When "Das Boot" came out in 1981, it became a big hit, and understandably so. But its biggest success has been that it has managed to establish itself as an iconic film, and after nearly 30 years it still the best of the genre it itself has created. 10/10.
Nearly four hours long, and never a dull moment!
The first time I saw this film I could not take my eyes from it. I was mesmerized with the transition of a hearty young crew leaving port evolving as the sheer moments of terror (deep under water battles and personal struggles as well as the final scene) lead them all to rethink their actual cause, and their very own mortality (as well as our own in the perils of war!). I can't imagine another film actually displaying what it must have been like to be on one of Nazi Germany's U-boats - young nationalist boys being plucked from their mother's bosom and cast into the claustrophobic iron wolfs in the heat and height of the second world war, who begin to doubt the cause and victory of the fuhrer they've been taught to love and trust. Very colorful, contrasting characters and a script and plot thick with surprises and emotional drama/trauma. Top-notch direction, action, acting and sets. This is perhaps the greatest movie ever made in my opinion. Sorry I couldn't be more specific with the review, there is just too much to cover without spoiling anything for those yet to enjoy it, and thus I just highly recommend it to anybody, not just war movie buffs. I have seen both the regular version and the director's cut (which I own on DVD now) and I must say that the DC is superior. A masterpiece!
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
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.
The best submarine film ever made.
While it has been a very long time since I have seen this movie, it is one of the very few that I own. Wolfgang Petersen's magnificent accomplishment in "Das Boot" is reiterating the dictum that "war is hell", no matter which side you look at it from and no matter where the battlefield is located.

*** Minor spoilers ***

The plot has been well described by other viewers so I won't rehash it again. But my personal observations, as an ex-submarine sailor, are that Petersen probably portrayed life on board the sub pretty accurately. I say "probably" because todays subs are hotels compared with the German U-boats and American submarines. The commonality between yesterday and today is how the crew deals with being closed up in a "sewer pipe" for weeks at a time. More importantly, you as a viewer become an invisible crew member as the crew lives in very cramped conditions (American WW2 subs used to be called "pig boats"), deals with an unfortunately believable political officer, deals with drills, actual torpedo firings, actual ships casualties, and deals, most frighteningly, with retribution from the "enemy". My own experience watching the depth charging of the U-boat was such that I was thinking "stop it, Stop It, STOP IT, STOPITSTOPITSTOPIT...!!!!!" That's how real it felt to me. For the rest of you, I feel certain you will too be dragged in and know what it is like to live on board a WW2 U-boat.

This movie also shows how leadership is so important in keeping the crew (and ultimately the sub) together. Petersen's direction for Captain Lehmann-Willenbrock was masterful because it didn't portray the captain as a god. It showed him as a man who knows how to lead, knows his submarine as if he were married to it (and in many ways he is) but isn't perfect at the job. It also shows that even with great leadership qualities, Captain Lehmann-Willenbrock can not do the job alone: he must have both officers and enlisted men who have the knowledge and skill to not just do their jobs, but to also advise the captain. Petersen also managed to give each member of the crew their own separate personalities instead of the predictable cookie-cutter personalities that Hollywood feels is needed.

I could go on and on. So I will close by saying that with the plot, direction, cinematography, acting, sound, music, editing all being top notch, this is one of the few movies that I can truly rate a 10 out of 10. I also preferred the German version with subtitles.


I believe that this movie was either the first or one of the first to use Steadicam technology. It was truly amazing for me to see a camera zip its way through a submarine, specifically through the open watertight doors, without a break in the filming. Up until I heard what Steadicam was, I was always wondering how Petersen managed to hide the camera dolly track or the wires the camera hung from.

(It turns out I was wrong: "Bound For Glory" was the first.)

EDIT (12 OCT, 2006): I have been corrected by an observant viewer. Wikipedia has the following comment on what I thought was Steadicam usage:

"Most of the interior shots were filmed using a hand-held Arriflex of cinematographer Jost Vacano's design to convey the claustrophobic atmosphere of the boat. It had a gyroscope to provide stability, a reinvention of the Steadicam on a smaller scale, so that it could be carried throughout the interior of the mock-up. Vacano wore full-body padding to minimize injury as he ran and the mock-up was rocked and shaken."

So, literally, a Steadicam was NOT used in the filming of "Das Boot". However, a camera that resembled Steadicam in function (in the way it gyroscopically leveled the filming platform) was used.


Even though todays submarines are far cleaner then their predecessors, and we have refrigerators, freezers, air conditioning, are able to take showers, etc., there is one aspect of living in an enclosed space that still lives on: the smell. While the smell of the "pig boats" of WW2 was truly atrocious, even with todays ability to clean the atmosphere, you can not escape the fact that any smell that is created, from burned toast in the galley, from the smell of the "sanitary gasses" (to be kind), to gasified hydraulic oil and diesel fuel, all these particulates will eventually become absorbed in your clothing. You, as a sailor, may get used to it, but when you get home, your wife will most likely declare that you smell like a submarine and demand that whatever you are wearing get thrown in the wash ... immediately!
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 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.
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