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Das Boot (1981)

8.5
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Ratings: 8.5/10 from 137,760 users   Metascore: 86/100
Reviews: 404 user | 86 critic | 15 from Metacritic.com

The claustrophobic world of a WWII German U-boat; boredom, filth, and sheer terror.

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(screenplay), (novel)
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Top 250 #69 | Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 13 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Klaus Wennemann ...
Hubertus Bengsch ...
1st Lieutenant - Number One-1WO
Martin Semmelrogge ...
2nd Lieutenant - 2WO
Bernd Tauber ...
Kriechbaum - Chief Quartermaster-Navigator
Erwin Leder ...
Johann
Martin May ...
Ullman
Heinz Hoenig ...
Hinrich (as Heinz Hönig)
...
Chief Bosun
Claude-Oliver Rudolph ...
Ario
...
Ralf Richter ...
Frenssen (as Ralph Richter)
Joachim Bernhard ...
Preacher
Oliver Stritzel ...
Schwalle
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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 one such U-Boat crew, 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. Written by Anthony Hughes <husnock31@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

When the hunters become the hunted See more »

Genres:

Adventure | Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some war violence and brief language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

10 February 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Das Boot  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$14,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

DEM 245,271 (Germany) (2 January 1998)

Gross:

$11,433,134 (USA) (25 April 1997)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

(director's cut)| (original release)| (director's cut)

Color:

(Fujicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The names of the Captain, Chief Engineer, 1st Watch Officer and 2nd Watch Officer (4 of the 5 main characters) are never given. See more »

Goofs

When the captain issues an order for a torpedo to be fired at the burning ship, he quotes a distance of 650m. Later he notes the distance as 950m in his log. See more »

Quotes

[U-96 is heading towards a nearby convoy contact]
Captain: [to Werner] More than 30 freighters! Berthold better not attack now. It's best to stay close and wait until the other boats arrive. For me, there is nothing finer than a submarine... and sailboats. There are no lines more beautiful than that of a sailboat. I sailed on a three-masted schooner once. Wonderful ship. Roomy. It had holds as big as churches!
[the Captain and Werner laugh]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Joan Rivers/Musical Youth (1983) See more »

Soundtracks

Sing Nachtigall Sing
(uncredited)
Performed by Evelyn Kunneke
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Epic
1 April 2005 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

What impresses me the most about the film, as the title makes apparent, is that it's a German made film about a German U-boat. Patriotism for my own country would tend to make me hate the crew on this ship by definition (especially if portrayed as typical mindless killing machine Nazis), but these characters are so well developed and played like human-beings facing difficult decisions that I find myself sympathizing with these guys.

I love the flow and pacing of the Director's Cut; it takes its time, and does not feel like typical Hollywood formula "first major plot point at minute 12" cookie-cutter routine. Das Boot gives us plenty of time to know these characters, discover how they kill time while waiting for orders, how they feel about their job and each other. Then when the action finally starts: how they deal with the possibility of dying deep underwater, how they react to the sounds of a sub going deeper than it should, the look on their faces as a destroyer is heard pinging them, and dozens of little personality quirks--subtle details that bring the crew to life. It truly does feel like an epic about a submarine crew, and I'm interested in some day viewing the 6 hour TV version.

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.

I can go on for a long while: Over three hours of wonderful visuals and strong performances, a sparse but great score (this film's lack of music is quite appropriate, making the presence of music much more impactful in its key places). Realistic writing from people who lived the experience first hand. As I said, I can go on for awhile but I'll sum it up and end this review with one statement: Das Boot is the definitive submarine movie.


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