Das Boot
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FAQ for
Das Boot (1981) More at IMDbPro »

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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags are used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Das Boot can be found here.

Literally it translates to "The Boat" from German to English.

Wir bauen fr den Sieg, meaning "We build for the Victory."

The real U-96 was a Type VIIC U-boat, which was the workhorse of the German Submarine Fleet.

War Order 154, issued by the German Navy in late 1939, explicitly prohibited U-boats from rescuing survivors. It was reaffirmed in 1942 after the Laconia incident, where three German U-boats rescued hundreds of survivors of the torpedoed transport ship Laconia, and were subsequently attacked and sunk by US bombers. Adm. Dnitz ordered in the Laconia order, that from that point on, no survivors were to be rescued, nor should they be given assistance. Prior to that, even though all sides had prohibitions in place, U-boats of all sides would assist survivors if possible (providing food, navigational aid and medical help, sometimes taking survivors aboard).

Even if not for the order, there simply wasn't enough room for prisoners on his boat. The whole movie has been shot in such a way as to convey how tight the quarters were on board a WWII German sub, there was barely enough room for the crew, their supplies, food, fuel, torpedoes, etc. Taking on prisoners would mean having to feed and quarter them on the boat. Also, it might have been days or weeks before they could dock in a safe port to drop them off. Not to mention the possibility of a prisoner escaping, causing sabotage or at least giving away the sub's position. So the Captain sails off, leaving them to their fate.

I have to add I am looking at the movie on the military channel and there is a Submarine expert doing commentary and that very question was asked. US Submarine Retired Admiral Charles J Beers said that during that part of the war a convoy usually was there to pick up survivors. So they were shocked to see no one was there to pick up survivors. If they were not there they would never pick up survivors and this went for both sides of the war because too many people got shot and killed doing it by other ships. It was just too dangerous. Also it did not make a difference how many people were killed because you got the Iron Cross from how much tonnage you sank and not the amount of people you killed or imprisoned. He did not mention anything about the lack of room.

With the boat being depth-charged, it's probably not surprising that at least one of the crew would have a nervous breakdown. That crew-member happened to be Johann. The Captain was holding a pistol because he intended to execute Johann if he proved to be dangerous. And the film clearly shows Johann trying to climb the ladder to the upper hatch. If he had made it to that hatch he could possibly flood the boat and kill them all. Also the Captain might have been trying show the other crew-members what may happen to them if they decided to leave their posts and have an episode of their own.

Yes, there is. It was released in 1985 as a 6-part mini series on German TV (with a total running time of 282 minutes). It's actually considered to be superior to the cinematic version by many. You can read about it here.

That's a difficult question, because there are about 4 different editions available (times for PAL/NTSC): (1) the original cinematic release at 140/149 minutes, (2) the Director's Cut at 216 minutes, (3) the uncut version (TV mini series) at 282/293 minutes, and (4) a "superbit" edition which runs 210 minutes. The Director's Cut is worth picking up because of the commentary track with W. Petersen, J. Prochnow, etc. Also, the sound quality is up-to-date. The Superbit edition is worth picking up for the "improved" picture & sound quality. And, finally, the miniseries is worth picking up because it offers the most total footage available, the best development of story and characters and the best subtitles (i.e. the translation from German).

There are several versions of this film: the original theatrical cut, which is the shortest of all versions. A lot of footage is missing in the theatrical cut. Another version is the Director's Cut which was made later. The DC contains a lot of the scenes that were removed in the Theatrical Cut. Last but not least, there's the so-called German TV version which was made during the production for TV and is divided into six episodes. With a total running time of almost 5 hours. the TV version is the longest version of all. It's also the version of the film, not only for fans, because this version is the only one which is absolutely complete. In the meantime, the TV version was also released on DVD, but the episodes were added to one complete film. As a result of that, the flashbacks are gone, and the credits only appear once. A detailed comparison between the Director's Cut and the TV version with pictures can be found here.

They were running to the very front of the sub, the torpedo room, to increase the weight there to help the sub dive faster. By weighing down the front end, it makes the process that much quicker.

In both World Wars Germany attempted to sever the supply lines across the Atlantic to the British Isles, cutting off Britain from her empire and her eventual ally in the United States. To do this they used aircraft and surface raiding ships but above all submarines (referred to as U-boats) to torpedo and mine merchantmen which were formed into defensive groups known as 'convoys' and accompanied by a variety of escort warships and aircraft. At the beginning of World War 2 German submarines had considerable success against Britain but losses were kept to an acceptable level. However the fall of France and Norway coupled with the Irish Free State's neutrality created a catastrophic situation for the Allies, allowing the Germans to base submarines and aircraft there thus massively extending their range and endurance whilst forbidding the Allies from doing the same on Ireland's southern coast to counter them. This was combined with the entry of the Italian fleet on the side of the Axis and the loss of the French and other occupied countries' navies and merchant fleets to the Allied cause. The war would then expand into the Mediterranean, Arctic convoys supplying the USSR and eventually into the Far East against Japan.

Allied ships would group together in convoys making them much harder to find in the vastness of the oceans. If they had been spread out and sailing individually it allowed a U-boat to torpedo one ship and then wait for the next to come along. If a U-boat sighted a convoy it might attack and sink one or two ships but the rest of the convoy would then outrun it, limiting losses to a large degree. To counter this the Germans used long range reconnaissance aircraft ('Focke-Wolf Condors') to locate and sometimes attack convoys. They also spread lines of U-boats across the Atlantic and when one sighted a convoy it would tail it and report its' position back to German high command. Other U-boats would then be directed to intercept the convoy en masse and overwhelm its' defences in what became known as a Wolf Pack. Escorts would ring the merchantmen and use sonar ('Asdic') to locate U-boats and attack them with underwater bombs known as depth charges and occasionally by ramming. Whilst the priority was not to destroy U-boats but protect the merchant ships eventually the Allies had enough escorts to form hunting groups, leaving one group of escorts to protect the convoy whilst another pursued the enemy. German U-boats and aircraft would also sow mines around Allied ports whilst the Allies air forces would relentlessly bomb U-boat bases but to little effect and often huge losses.

The decryption of German naval codes by Bletchley Park ('Enigma') allowed many convoys to be routed safely around the U-boats but this was offset by the Germans also breaking Allied naval codes. The introduction of long range land based aircraft and escort carriers (merchant ships converted into mini aircraft carriers carrying a handful of planes) allowed convoys to have air cover across the entire Atlantic, giving them protection from German aircraft and U-boats (it was not necessary for planes to actually sink enemy submarines, once they were driven underwater by air patrols the convoy could simply outrun them). Advances in radar and radio direction finding ('Huff-Duff') allowed escorts to pinpoint U-boats whilst Italy was knocked out of the war in 1943 and the liberation of France in 1944 denied the German navy their ports there. Ultimately however ship production by Allied shipyards out produced the Germans (one pre-fabricated 'Liberty ship was constructed in only 5 days) meaning that the Axis were never able to sink enough to make a difference.

The Allies lost over three and a half thousand ships and over 70,000 personnel in nearly six years. The Axis lost over 30,000 killed and 800 submarines sunk, the German U-boat arm having the highest casualty rates of all the German armed forces. Although a tactical victory for the Axis it was a strategic victory for the Allies.


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