Considered one of the greatest German films of all time and directed by Academy Award nominee Wolfgang Peterson, Das Boot sounded like it would be an exciting and exhilarating war epic.
From a storytelling perspective, Das Boot is very interesting. In the contemporary age, many viewers are likely to be fazed by the slow movement of the film as well as it's extensively long pace, and the fact that there are a lot of people in the film but not really that many characters. This proves to be one of its most important aspects though because it depicts the war from a perspective that is very third person. The viewer gets an analysis of the war from the perspective of the characters without feeling their emotions. The film didn't end up being the war epic that I had expected, but it was an interesting film.
I've seen too many films which characterise the Nazis as being soulless killers, but in Das Boot we get an entirely new perspective. We see them simply as members of a crew on a U-Boat, and their experience is so engaging that I completely forgot about the fact that they were fighting for the Nazis. I forgot that the characters in Das Boot were the enemies, and I instead found myself rooting for them. Das Boot has viewers rooting for the characters simply because of their existence and not what team they fight for, and so it has viewers seeing the war from a very theoretical perspective yet also sympathising for the characters. Das Boot is mainly good from a technical perspective because of how it depicts the war and predates other acclaimed submarine thrillers by many years, but also because of the fact that it shows the characters normally characterised as the enemy in a light which has audiences supporting their plight and ambition. Wolfgang Peterson really puts himself out there in taking on a film like Das Boot, and even though in its age it does not seem precisely as deep or powerful as it did back upon its original 1981 release, it is clear that it would have been groundbreaking back in the day. It is one of the first films to look at the complex technical aspects of war with such unbiased perspective, as well as being one of the earliest submarine thriller films. So despite its pace, length and the effect of its age, Das Boot is easy to see as a classic. It doesn't cover way too much, but the technical qualities of the film combined with its exploration of camaraderie is excellent.
The human side of Das Boot comes into how it explores the comradeship between the soldiers on board. I can't remember the name of any of them, but the relationship they all share is excellent. The characters all have an almost brotherhood relationship to them which is so rich with humanity, and the film doesn't even need to put extensive focus on any singular character to achieve that. Thanks largely to the cast who are able to easily put excellent efforts in, Das Boot does not lack a human touch. Never has a film made it so easy to sympathise for Nazis before, and for achieving that as well as the amazing technical aspects of the film, Wolfgang Peterson was certain worthy of an Academy Award nomination. The atmosphere of the film is exceptional because it is intense and determined, and it manages to make some emotional turns when not expected. The final scene in the film is the most powerful of the film, and it alone makes the experience a valuable one. Wolfgang Peterson is able to make Das Boot without picking a side or naming anyone as a hero or a villain, so his work on the film is undeniably excellent.
When it comes to the technical parts of Das Boot, the film is spot on with detail. Although the exterior footage of the titular U-Boat is limited, it is captured with excellent cinematography and gives viewers a sense of the larger scale of things. When it comes to the interior shots however, everything is amazingly well detailed to the point that it is exceptionally believable. It doesn't look the slightest bit artificial, and the cinematography that captures the detail is atmospheric and powerful. The budget of Das Boot was used for the perfect purposes because the scenery of the film is spot on in establishing the setting and the time period of the film. The aesthetic appearance of Das Boot is beautiful, and with great cinematography and quick editing, it is able to assist the tension in the film in manifesting all while everything is captured with great detail. Also, the musical score in Das Boot is excellently composed and gives the film a touch of developing tension as well as a sense of determined movement. Some of the pieces in the musical score are unforgettable, and although it is only used in moderation to make the drama of the film seem more realistive and organic for the majority of its running time, Das Boot has a powerful musical score which is easily memorable. It's technical qualities scored many Academy Award nominations, and not a single one of them was undeserving because the visual and auditory detail to realism in Das Boot makes it a powerful visual experience to add to the strength of its already firm emotional atmosphere.
And thanks in part to the strength of an Academy Award nominated screenplay, Das Boot is full of powerful acting. It is difficult to really establish if there is any actors that standout in Das Boot because they all essentially make the same meaningful contribution to the film with their strength at conveying firm chemistry between each other and creating a true sense of camaraderie, and so the acting in the film comes less from any single person of talent and more a platoon of actors who really convey the tension of their situation. Like the millions of unknown soldiers who died in WWII, the many actors in Das Boot manage to all make equally amazing efforts with their atmospheric and dedicated performances. If there were any actors that were the most memorable, it would be Jurgen Prochnow because of how his age made him stand out and it gave him a certain sense of wisdom as well as a character which stood out from the rest for being more deep and sympathetic as a character. Herbet Gronemeyer makes a powerful and determined lead as well, and the supporting performance of Erwin Leder was a nice touch.
So a massively ambitious film, Das Boot is a long and slow feature but it has an excellent cast, amazing direction from Wolfgang Peterson at his best and unmatched technical qualities which sets a high bar for the standard of submarine thrillers while making viewers sympathise for the Nazis thanks to a strong script and a lack of bias.