Das Boot - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Das Boot Reviews

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March 14, 2017
Arguably the greatest military naval film of all time, as well as one of the greatest war films. I recommend "The Director's Cut" as the definitive version of this film.

At its time, this was the most expensive film ever produced in Germany. However, this was a pittance relative to Hollywood budgets. Despite this, Das Boot conveys it message precisely. Certainly, it is dated from a special effects perspective. It would be fascinating to see this made with today's special effects.

The film demonstrates the claustrophobia, danger, tension and prowess of the German U-boaters of WWII. These men were in their early 20s. The captain was 30 and chief engineer 27. However, the maturity of the leadership is astounding to see under various circumstances, especially in life and death situations.

This is a film that brings you on the ship and makes you feel like the plot unfolds as you are one of the crew. The ending is one of my favourites in cinematic history. The parallels between ship and captain manifest throughout the film right through to the final scene.
March 6, 2017
It is 1941 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. Lt. Werner (Herbert Grönemeyer), has been assigned as a war correspondent on the German submarine U-96. He meets its captain (Jürgen Prochnow), chief engineer (Klaus Wennemann), and the crew in a raucous French bordello. Thomsen (Otto Sander), another captain, gives a crude drunken speech to celebrate his Ritterkreuz award, in which he openly mocks not only Winston Churchill but implicitly Adolf Hitler as well. The next morning, they sail out of the harbour of La Rochelle to a cheering crowd and playing band. Werner is given a tour of the boat. As time passes, he observes ideological differences between the new crew members and the hardened veterans, particularly the captain, who is embittered and cynical about the war. The new men, including Werner, are often mocked by the rest of the crew, who share a tight bond. After days of boredom, the crew is excited by another U-boat's spotting of an enemy convoy, but they soon locate a British destroyer. While the captain attempts to sink the destroyer, it sees the sub's periscope, and they are bombarded with depth charges. They narrowly escape with only light damage. The next three weeks are spent enduring a relentless storm. Morale drops after a series of misfortunes, but the crew is cheered temporarily by a chance encounter with Thomsen's boat. Shortly after the storm ends, the boat encounters a British convoy and quickly launches four torpedoes, sinking two ships. They are spotted by a destroyer and have to dive below the submarine's rated limit. During the ensuing depth-charge attack, the chief mechanic, Johann, panics and has to be restrained. The boat sustains heavy damage, but is eventually able to safely surface in darkness. An enemy tanker remains afloat and on fire, so they torpedo the ship, only to realize that there are still sailors aboard; they watch in horror as the sailors, some on fire, leap overboard and swim towards them. Following orders not to take prisoners, the captain gives the command to back the ship away. The worn-out U-boat crew looks forward to returning home to La Rochelle in time for Christmas, but the ship is ordered to La Spezia, Italy, which means passing through the Strait of Gibraltar-an area heavily defended by the Royal Navy. The U-boat makes a secret night rendezvous at the harbour of Vigo, in neutral although Axis-friendly Spain, with the SS Weser, an interned German merchant ship that clandestinely provides U-boats with fuel, torpedoes, and other supplies. The filthy officers seem out of place at the opulent dinner prepared for them, but are warmly greeted by enthusiastic officers eager to hear their exploits. The captain learns from an envoy of the German consulate that his request for Werner and the chief engineer to be sent back to Germany has been denied. The crew finishes resupplying and departs for Italy. As they carefully approach Gibraltar and are just about to dive, they are suddenly attacked by a British fighter plane, wounding the navigator. The captain orders the boat directly south towards the African coast at full speed. British ships begin closing in and they are forced to dive. When attempting to level off, the boat does not respond and continues to sink until, just before being crushed by the pressure, it lands on a sea shelf, at the depth of 280 metres. The crew work desperately to make numerous repairs before running out of oxygen...

Das Boot is a 1981 German epic war film written and directed by Wolfgang Petersen. It has been exhibited both as a theatrical release and as a TV miniseries, and in several different home video versions of various running times. An adaptation of Lothar-Günther Buchheim's 1973 German novel of the same name, the film is set during World War II and tells the fictional story of U-96 and its crew. It depicts both the excitement of battle and the tedium of the fruitless hunt, and shows the men serving aboard U-boats as ordinary individuals with a desire to do their best for their comrades and their country. The screenplay used an amalgamation of exploits from the real U-96, a Type VIIC-class U-boat. Development began in 1979. Several American directors were considered three years earlier before the film was shelved. During production, Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock, the captain of the real U-96 and one of Germany's top U-boat "tonnage aces" during the war, and Hans-Joachim Krug, former first officer on U-219, served as consultants. One of Petersen's goals was to guide the audience through "a journey to the edge of the mind" (the film's German tagline Eine Reise ans Ende des Verstandes), showing "what war is all about". Produced with a budget of 32 million DM (about $18.5 million), the film was released on September 17, 1981, and was later released in 1997 in a director's cut version supervised by Petersen. It grossed over $80 million worldwide between its theatrical releases and received critical acclaim. Its high production cost ranks it among the most expensive films in the history of German cinema. Rotten Tomatoes consensus states "Taut, breathtakingly thrilling, and devastatingly intelligent, Das Boot is one of the greatest war films ever made.". The film was ranked #25 in Empire magazine's "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema" in 2010. At the 55th Academy Awards, Das Boot was nominated for six awards, including Best Director. To this day, it holds the record for the most Academy Award nominations for a German film. In late 2007, there was an exhibition about the film Das Boot, as well as about the real U-Boat U-96, at the Haus der Geschichte (House of German History) in Bonn. Over 100,000 people visited the exhibition during its four-month run.

I am not sure how many times I have seen "Das Boot", but I have seen it a few times but not in the Director´s Cut version which I saw this time around, a version that runs for over three hours. This film is still to this day one of the finest german films I have ever seen. It so well directed, well acted, well written and well edited it still blows your mind in 2017. Yes, there´s some wobbly green screen moments, but for example the detail level of the submarine interior and as well the exterior is of the highest standard. Then again with that budget Wolfgang Petersen managed to get, I wouldn´t expect less. Petersen has portrayed the german crew as human beings participating in a war with anxiety, fear, homesickness, boredom, apathy, terror, sadness and horror while they are trying to obey the ideology of the government under which they serve. Not like mindless war hungry Nazis. It´s hard to not sympathise with them while on their impossible missions. Time is given to truly develop the characters and that adds so much to the film. I truly like that. The pacing is slow, just as slow it is to wait and wait and wait for something to happen on a submarine mission. Petersen has also managed to shoot the film in a cramped confined submarine space and it´s spectacular how well made it is. Jürgen Prochnow is at his prime and delivers such a believable performance it´s a wonder he didn´t win an Oscar. "Das Boot" is a true classic. It´s an intense, gripping, authentic, dramatic and emotionally draining film.

Trivia: The bulk of the film's $15 million budget was spent on constructing U-boats. Specifications for the original Type VII-C U-boat were found at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. The plans were taken to the original builder of the subs, who was commissioned to build a full-sized, sea-going replica, their first such assignment since the war ended. A second full-sized model was built for interior filming.

Because the original TV mini-series was severely criticized in Germany for portraying World War II Germans sympathetically, the producer greeted the first American showing of the film at the Los Angeles Film Festival with great trepidation. They weren't sure how a former enemy nation in that war would react to the film, especially in a city with a large Jewish population, and their fears were reinforced when the audience applauded the opening caption saying 30,000 of 40,000 German men that went into war in submarines didn't come back. However, when it ended, the audience gave the film a standing ovation in appreciation of the artistry of the filmmakers.

The cast was deliberately kept indoors continually during the shooting period in order to look as pale as a real submarine crew would on a mission at sea.

To help his actors convey the claustrophobic conditions found on a real U-boat, director Wolfgang Petersen insisted on filming within the actual confines of the ship (scarcely wider than a man's outstretched arms), rather than removing the model's outer wall.

The picture was nominated for six Academy Awards which was at the time the highest number of Oscar nominations ever received by a foreign language film. The record has since being beaten by such films as Life Is Beautiful (1997) and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000).

With production costs of 31 million DM, it was for a long time the most expensive German movie ever made. It was beaten in 2006 by "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer" (2006), which, however, was a German-French-Spanish co-production shot in English.
February 12, 2017
To be honest after reading the reviews, I was expecting more.
½ February 7, 2017
Utterly captivating and oppressive 2 1/2 hours spent in the company of a U Boat crew. Absolutely engrossing.
January 26, 2017
I've never seen a movie like it. The beautifully crafted scenes can make your heart beat with suspense, feel it with a sense dreadful hopelessness or make you leap out of your seat with joy.
January 2, 2017
Ano epic and gripping drama about the crew of U-96 on patrol in 1941. Wolfgang Petersen captures the filthy, claustrophobic, and sometimes frightening experience on board a submarine. One of the greatest films I've ever seen.
½ December 5, 2016
Das ist mein LieblingsdeutscheFilm. Dieser Film ist sehr lange und hatte auch vieler spannungsgeladen Szenen. Dieser Film schaut die Grauen in Krieg an.
½ September 16, 2016
Tremendous filmmaking. Justifies its entire 293 min runtime. I can't imagine anything cut from it.
½ September 10, 2016
One of the best war movies ever directed.
July 20, 2016
Just as amazing as I remember it! Now having not seen for years I was kind of afriad that it wouldn't hold up as I tought, but how wrong I were.

The version I saw was the full uncut version, which runs for nearly 5 hours and there was never a single minute that I found boring!

I don't throw this word around often, since I think it's kind of overused when it comes to film and all of art in general, but 'Das Boot' is truly an absolute masterpiece!
½ July 18, 2016
A commitment to get through, but one that's worth it.
July 9, 2016
One of the best german films of all time. Intelligent, realistic and incredibly gripping
½ May 30, 2016
Good Memorial Day watch I thought. Very strong sub movie. Never rooted for Nazis before so that was interesting. That ending though. The feels!
½ May 8, 2016
One of the greatest war movies ever made.
½ April 26, 2016
All you need is good people.
April 25, 2016
Brilliant, intense, realistic, gritty WW2 drama.

1941 and the Battle of the Atlantic - German U-boats versus freighters supplying Britain - is underway. We see this struggle from the side of a German U-boat crew, U-96. We them relaxing and having fun in port, the boredom of patrol, the tension of stalking a convoy and the sheer terror when they become the hunted.

Superb military drama. Probably the most accurate depiction of wartime submarine life you'll ever see, and surely one of the most realistic war dramas ever made. Incredibly tense at times and extremely enthralling.

Quite novel for its time in that it is a WW2 story told from the German perspective.

Superb plot, great action scenes, especially for its time, and solid performances. Hard to find a fault with this. A masterpiece.
March 13, 2016
An outrageously good movie!
March 11, 2016
One of the best war movies ever made. I saw the English dubbed version many years ago. The director's cut in German is an improvement.
½ March 5, 2016
"Das Boot" is a one-of-a-kind historical (with a little few inaccuracies) film featuring a great plot about a German U-boat crew during the Second World War, awesome direction by Wolfgang Petersen, intense moments, & neat (rather accurate) settings. The acting (English dubbed by the original German cast) was okay, although it was a little corny from some characters. Nevertheless, "Das Boot" is quite an entertaining film that would be rather appealing to historians & is one of the best war films, too.
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