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100 out of 102 people found the following review useful:

Finally: The Boat We Were Meant To See

Author: gpadillo from Portland, Maine
5 October 2004

When a film about World War II has American audiences routing for the Germans, hoping and cheering them on for the success of their mission, one can only become conscious of the ultimate horror and futility of war. One also has watched a helluva movie.

Back in the early 80's I called in sick (along with some friends) to see the opening of Petersen's Das Boot. We were all stunned. Went out for a beer and then returned to the theatre and watched it all over again.

Petersen masterfully developed his cast into a crew who are no longer "the enemy" but fresh faced kids, neither prepared nor aware of the horror that was waiting them. When I first saw "Das Boot" – I was the same age as those kids so it resonated more powerfully than I could have possibly imagined. In this wonderful uncut release of the original German miniseries we're forced to spend even more time with the crew of U-96 and in that time get to knew them better. We see friendships and bonds formed, the irritability that comes with lack of privacy and tension so dense it becomes an almost physical presence. We also get more of the sense of what war really is – immense spans of boredom and ennui interrupted by the occasional horrors of violence and death.

Petersen kept his cast indoors and unshaven during the entire shoot with the resulting effect that the crew actually looks like a group of men who have not seen natural light, or breathed fresh air for 65 days. Additionally, the actors were all put through vigorous physical training so that when racing through the set of a dangerously reconstructed U-Boat, they move naturally with an almost balletic swiftness that is dazzling.

This is masterful film-making of the highest order, with sound and lighting that capture the claustrophobic nature of a submarine, almost suffocating the viewer. The scenes of Das Boot racing through the Atlantic, it's difficult near fatal destruction in the narrow Strait of Gibraltar will have your blood pumping at fever pitch.

The ensemble cast is uniformly excellent, each actor - even ones with little to no dialogue, making bold indelible choices in developing their characters.

Jürgen Prochnow as the Captain gives a remarkable, strong performance, making one believe - from the very beginning - this is a true leader of men.

You have no difficulty believing this crew standing behind this captain's every decision.

Petersen's writing of Herbert Grönemeyer as the eager young reporter, Werner is a masterful creation. Werner becomes the multi-faceted prism through whom we watch and live this story. Part Greek chorus, part conscience of the uninvolved, we join him as an outsider on the inside, becoming participants in this heart rending drama. Grönemeyer's performance becomes the very soul of Das Boot.

"Das Boot" remains one of my all time favorite films and to finally be able to own and see it as Wolfgang Petersen intended is one of the best things to happen since the invention of DVD.

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75 out of 77 people found the following review useful:

The ultimate war film

10/10
Author: george-102 from Germany
27 August 2001

If you want an action movie, watch something else. Das Boot reflects what war must really be like, showing not just the 1% of terror and confusion, but also the 99% sitting around waiting for things to happen. It is also the best if not only explanation I know, of how honourable men could have fought for the Nazis.

I have now seen "Das Boot" 4 times. The first time was the "Director's Cut" with subtitles. Since then I have learnt German, so each time I watch the film I understand it better. It is still very difficult to follow, and a great deal passes me by; I think this film probably has the hardest German of any of the 50 or so German-language films I've seen. This is part of its authenticity; you don't expect people to speak Standard High German when they think they may die horribly in the next five minutes.

The original mini-series has about the same amount of action as the Director's Cut, but a great deal more explanation and character development. For example, the Captain gets to comment on his actions towards the English sailors from the sinking oil-tanker. I think the sound of the Director's Cut was redone for Dolby-7, so the noises seem to come from all around and at times make you want to hide under the seat. However in all other respects, I think the mini-series is very much better than the Director's Cut, brilliant though that is.

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55 out of 60 people found the following review useful:

Common Humanity

Author: Balberith from Another Land
15 March 2000

Das Boot is my favorite war film. It shows war through the eyes of Germans. It is so realistic and intense that I live it every time I see it. It is one war film where I consider Germans to be the "good guys"! Their humanity and fight for survival touch me in such a way that I cannot help but be totally for them. It does indeed prove that beneath every uniform their lies a human being with hopes and dreams for the future.

It makes me realize that war is terrible for everyone involved. It makes me realize that our common humanity is much more important than politics. We all should recognize this fact of life. God bless the people who made this film. They not only opened my mind but also my heart! So I'd like to say to them: Vielen Dank!

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49 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

Opening up the claustriphobia

Author: chris w gallagher (chriswgallagher@aol.com) from East Northport, N.Y.
10 March 2002

As good as "Das Boot" is in it's original theatrical form,and in an director Peterson's extended version in the re-release,the TV version,coming in at close to five hours long shows so much more of the day to day life on the boat.The claustriphobic nature of life on a WWII submarine is opened up for us. It delves far more deeply into the personalities and lives of the crew,both on and off the boat.They become real human beings,and we see how hard their lives are while on patrol.As with "All Quiet on the Western Front",the senselessness of war is brought home when see from the losing side. Highly moving

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46 out of 47 people found the following review useful:

My absolute favorite

10/10
Author: David Thornqvist from Sweden
26 September 2005

I taped the original Swedish airing of "Das Boot" in the late 80's,and thought it was amazing. Now I own the DVD,and I still think it's amazing! Fortunate enough, this film lack the big special effects,which makes it stand excellent against time.

I prefer the mini over the feature movie. The slower pace and the closeness to the characters really gets to me. Over the years I must have seen this film more than 50 times,and it's still great! The casting is excellent and so is the directing. Wolfgang Petersen have done really well with a great novel. He captures the boredom and the fear in war in a superb way.

Perhaps the labeling of this film as a "war movie", has scared off many viewers from a great piece of art. Both those who dislike war movies and those who like war action.

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37 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

Thinly Disguised Memoir Which Gives Even Greater Credability

10/10
Author: charles-338-262574 from United States
7 April 2012

I researched German U-Boats for many years, interviewed surviving crew as well as current day German naval officers. I read at least 100 books on U-Boats. I did this to research my novel, An Honorable German, a World War Two naval epic told from the point of view of a heroic yet deeply conflicted German naval officer, published in 2009. I say this to establish my credibility to write the following review.

Das Boot is based on the novel of the same name which is a thinly disguised memoir by the author, Lothar Gunther Buchheim. This imparts an authenticity to the film often lacking in many war films. The author of the novel was actually aboard the U-Boat on several war patrols. The IMDb lists the German actor Jürgen Prochnow as playing Capt.-Lt. Henrich Lehmann- Willenbrock, the actual commander of U- 96 and 6th highest scoring U-Boat ace of the war when Buchheim was aboard and not the fictitious commander of the U-boat always referred to as the "Old Man."

I would strongly recommend that you watch the movie in the original German with English subtitles rather than the version dubbed into English. You get a far better feel for life aboard a German U-Boat when the men are speaking in German and you hear the urgency in the voices of the actors as it would have been in real life.

Buchheim was a war correspondent working for the German Propaganda Ministry (all war correspondents in the Third Reich worked for the Propaganda Ministry) and in that capacity he went on two war patrols

aboard the actual German U-Boat, U-96.

I can say with every assurance that this film is an accurate description of daily life aboard a German U-Boat in World War Two we will ever see. But even more important, this film depicts the horror and terror of war in the most compelling way possible. To me, no other war film comes as close to Das Boot in depicting both the boredom and terror of war.

The film is extremely accurate in its depiction of the foulness of everyday life aboard a German U-Boat. None of the boats had bathing facilities so the men could never clean themselves except with a bucket of salt water from the ocean. Nor could they wash their uniforms, of which they were only allowed two while on board.They had special salt water soap but all that did was irritate the skin.

Boils, rashes and skin infections of all kinds were common among U- Boat crews. Fresh water was strictly rationed and none could be spared for bathing. The men did receive a cup of water each day for brushing their teeth and cleaning their face etc but most were so thirsty from strict water rationing that they just drank the cup of water.

Food grew slimy and green with mold as shown in the movie and there was such limited storage space that sausages really did hang down in the compartments as shown in the film. Fresh food only lasted a few days and the rest of their food came from cans.Because of the rocking of the boat and monotonous diet, the men developed constipation.

Unlike American submarines in World War Two, German submarines had no air conditioning or heat (except for so small portable heaters). The boat took on the temperature of the water outside the hull so you can imagine how uncomfortable this must have been. Ventilating the boat was very difficult and many crewmen developed lung problems.

When the movie first appeared in Germany in 1981, it was vilified by many surviving U-boat crewmen. Small details were pounced on and men said "we didn't have that on my U-Boat" which is sort of meaningless since no U-Boats were equipped exactly the same. What is more interesting about the vilification of the movie, which gave it immense publicity in Germany, is that the former commander of U-96, Henrich Lehmann-Willenbrock, was on the set everyday advising the actors and the director. The "old man" had survived the war and in what must have been a surrealistic experience, he later helped put the movie together and coached Jürgen Prochnow how to play Lehmann-Willenbrock, that is, himself.

Another high scoring U-boat ace, Erich Topp, advised on the movie as well. Those who criticize the film usually fail to point this out. This was one of the first movies to use the technique of hand-held cameras to give the viewer a sense of the movement of the boat and the men. This technique had become ubiquitous today and in my opinion overdone.

This film is an incredible work of art and is, in my opinion, the greatest war film ever made. There is no "sugar coating". The brutality and randomness of war are shown without any attempt to make them "pretty." If you are only going to watch one war movie in your life, then watch this one.

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28 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Epic Naval Drama

10/10
Author: freemantle_uk from United Kingdom
12 September 2009

Das Boot is considered by many one of the best war films ever made. They have been a number of versions, the theatrical cut and the director's cut. The film was financed by German television and the director Wolfgang Petersen converted it into a 6 hour mini-series. The DVD is an epic 4 hour 42 minutes, cut in a seamless fashion.

Das Boot is a rare film, a film that tells a story of World War II from the German perspective. It shows the mission of U-96 in the winter of 1941 when the Battle of the Atlantic is turning towards Britain's favour. Britain is using the convoy system, having more supplies from the American merchant navy and the Britain navy is getting better armed, so starving the nation seems hopeless. The crew are on a simple mission of trying to sink as many British ships as possible whilst avoiding British patrol planes and destroyers, a very tough think to do. The focus of Das Boot is on the experienced war weary captain (Jürgen Prochnow) and Lieutenant Werner (Herbert Grönemeyer), a young war corespondent for the German military and an outside to their world. All the characters are individuals, treated with respected, even the only character who is a Nazi is treated like a human being. This is a complex drama about the moral of warfare and the collective spirit of serving in a submarine. It is a tough world where young men are serving in one of the most dangerous fields of war during World War II. This a conflict where they are long moments of boredom in a close environment. This can lead to conflict within the crew. Whilst when the U-Boat does find a convoy it can be a massive struggle between life and death for the whole crew.

Das Boot is clearly Wolfgang Petersen best work. He shows the claustrophobic environment of what a U-Boat would have been like. It is a noisy environment, and it can lead to conflict within the crew, but also the crew are also close and have to be because they depend on each other. As well as the moments of boredom to show character development and debate the war, Petersen also knew when to add the tension and made Das Boot an instance experience. He also showed his skill with action. Wolfgang Petersen focused on character development, unlike his Hollywood films. He does not villainize either the British or German navies, or the people who fought in the war. Despite Das Boot is based on a fictional novel, it is one of the most accurate portrayal of naval warfare during World War II.

Das Boot has a very 80s score to it, using modern instruments, which surprisingly works, adding to the imagines. I personally would have gone for a more classical score, but that's just me.

A must see.

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23 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

amazing film, a classic.

10/10
Author: Dry Elbows from Netherlands
6 December 2006

seems like everything is right about this movie/series. the actors are all really good & the camera-work is excellent. great use of colors also... you know it's war, but still you have all the sympathy in the world for the crew. it's like a world of its own inside "das boot". you can't help but feeling claustrophobic when you watch it, especially when the boat dives deeper & deeper to shake of the enemy...then the attack from above starts & you really start holding your breath, it sucks you in, in ways only movies of very high quality can. i watched the long version, but it felt like it was not that long at all, because it was such a thriller. amazing film, a classic.

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17 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Superb

10/10
Author: pommesmitsalbe from United States
13 February 2007

I watched this movie the very first time as a kid in 1985 on TV and was stoked right away. I had not even been allowed to stay up late at that age but I was able to persuade my parents to let me watch it. Since then I must have watched this five hour version at least seven times and I would be very happy to see it again but unfortunately I do not own it.

Do not let the genre "war movie" keep you away from watching this because it is far from being one of those typical "war movies". It is not only the story which makes this one great but also the acting, the lack of special effects and the authenticity. And of course Jürgen Prochnow is king!

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15 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Excellent Movie!

10/10
Author: Barry Weinzimmer (barry@outfctrl.com) from United States
9 August 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I agree with everyones comment on the feelings it gives you.

One thing that opened my eyes some is the fact when the officer on the ship where they docked and re-supplied in Italy, raised his hand toward the captain and said "Heil Hitler", The captain just looked at him and never saluted back the same.

That indicates somewhat that he is disgusted with Hitler and basically is there to complete his orders as any dedicated soldier would do.

The eyes of Chief Engineer Hans when he was cracking up under stress, really got to me. The close-up of his eyes put chills down my spine.

You can watch this movie numerous times and always find something you missed.

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