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Das Boot (1981)

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

Director:

Wolfgang Petersen

Writers:

Wolfgang Petersen (screenplay), Lothar G. Buchheim (novel)
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Popularity
1,401 ( 427)
Top Rated Movies #72 | Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 13 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jürgen Prochnow ... Capt.-Lt. Henrich Lehmann-Willenbrock - Der Alte
Herbert Grönemeyer ... Lt. Werner - Correspondent
Klaus Wennemann Klaus Wennemann ... Chief Engineer Fritz Grade - Der Leitende-Der LI
Hubertus Bengsch Hubertus Bengsch ... 1st Lieutenant - Number One-1WO
Martin Semmelrogge ... 2nd Lieutenant - 2WO
Bernd Tauber ... Kriechbaum - Chief Quartermaster-Navigator
Erwin Leder ... Johann
Martin May Martin May ... Ullman
Heinz Hoenig ... Hinrich (as Heinz Hönig)
Uwe Ochsenknecht ... Chief Bosun
Claude-Oliver Rudolph ... Ario
Jan Fedder ... Pilgrim
Ralf Richter 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 the crew of one such U-Boat, 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:

40 000 men were sent out on German U-boats... 30 000 never returned See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Twin Brothers

Country:

West Germany

Language:

German | English | French

Release Date:

10 February 1982 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Boat See more »

Filming Locations:

Bodensee, Bavaria, Germany See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$14,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$26,994, 14 February 1982, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$11,487,676, 9 November 2013

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$73,482,661
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut) | (video) | (Original Uncut Version) | (Original Uncut Mini-Series Version)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital (director's cut)| Dolby (original release)| SDDS (director's cut)

Color:

Color (Fujicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Germany maintained its unrestricted submarine warfare was in response to the Royal Navy's blockade, which was illegal under international law. See more »

Goofs

(at around 55 mins) Captain and several crew members are taking wave splashes/spray in their faces while standing on the bridge. The Captain keeps using his binoculars. If binocular lenses are wet they are completely useless for their intended purpose. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Captain: Out boatswain's mate. Been on quite a bender tonight.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Theatrical release is 145-minutes long, edited down from a six-hour miniseries developed for German television (available in Germany on home video) See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Directors: The Films of Adrian Lyne (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

Westerwaldlied
(O, du schöner Westerwald)
(uncredited)
Written by Josef Neuhauser
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
The best submarine film ever made.
25 March 2005 | by Mike_WigginsSee all my reviews

While it has been a very long time since I have seen this movie, it is one of the very few that I own. Wolfgang Petersen's magnificent accomplishment in "Das Boot" is reiterating the dictum that "war is hell", no matter which side you look at it from and no matter where the battlefield is located.

*** Minor spoilers ***

The plot has been well described by other viewers so I won't rehash it again. But my personal observations, as an ex-submarine sailor, are that Petersen probably portrayed life on board the sub pretty accurately. I say "probably" because todays subs are hotels compared with the German U-boats and American submarines. The commonality between yesterday and today is how the crew deals with being closed up in a "sewer pipe" for weeks at a time. More importantly, you as a viewer become an invisible crew member as the crew lives in very cramped conditions (American WW2 subs used to be called "pig boats"), deals with an unfortunately believable political officer, deals with drills, actual torpedo firings, actual ships casualties, and deals, most frighteningly, with retribution from the "enemy". My own experience watching the depth charging of the U-boat was such that I was thinking "stop it, Stop It, STOP IT, STOPITSTOPITSTOPIT...!!!!!" That's how real it felt to me. For the rest of you, I feel certain you will too be dragged in and know what it is like to live on board a WW2 U-boat.

This movie also shows how leadership is so important in keeping the crew (and ultimately the sub) together. Petersen's direction for Captain Lehmann-Willenbrock was masterful because it didn't portray the captain as a god. It showed him as a man who knows how to lead, knows his submarine as if he were married to it (and in many ways he is) but isn't perfect at the job. It also shows that even with great leadership qualities, Captain Lehmann-Willenbrock can not do the job alone: he must have both officers and enlisted men who have the knowledge and skill to not just do their jobs, but to also advise the captain. Petersen also managed to give each member of the crew their own separate personalities instead of the predictable cookie-cutter personalities that Hollywood feels is needed.

I could go on and on. So I will close by saying that with the plot, direction, cinematography, acting, sound, music, editing all being top notch, this is one of the few movies that I can truly rate a 10 out of 10. I also preferred the German version with subtitles.

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I believe that this movie was either the first or one of the first to use Steadicam technology. It was truly amazing for me to see a camera zip its way through a submarine, specifically through the open watertight doors, without a break in the filming. Up until I heard what Steadicam was, I was always wondering how Petersen managed to hide the camera dolly track or the wires the camera hung from.

(It turns out I was wrong: "Bound For Glory" was the first.)

EDIT (12 OCT, 2006): I have been corrected by an observant viewer. Wikipedia has the following comment on what I thought was Steadicam usage:

"Most of the interior shots were filmed using a hand-held Arriflex of cinematographer Jost Vacano's design to convey the claustrophobic atmosphere of the boat. It had a gyroscope to provide stability, a reinvention of the Steadicam on a smaller scale, so that it could be carried throughout the interior of the mock-up. Vacano wore full-body padding to minimize injury as he ran and the mock-up was rocked and shaken."

So, literally, a Steadicam was NOT used in the filming of "Das Boot". However, a camera that resembled Steadicam in function (in the way it gyroscopically leveled the filming platform) was used.

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Even though todays submarines are far cleaner then their predecessors, and we have refrigerators, freezers, air conditioning, are able to take showers, etc., there is one aspect of living in an enclosed space that still lives on: the smell. While the smell of the "pig boats" of WW2 was truly atrocious, even with todays ability to clean the atmosphere, you can not escape the fact that any smell that is created, from burned toast in the galley, from the smell of the "sanitary gasses" (to be kind), to gasified hydraulic oil and diesel fuel, all these particulates will eventually become absorbed in your clothing. You, as a sailor, may get used to it, but when you get home, your wife will most likely declare that you smell like a submarine and demand that whatever you are wearing get thrown in the wash ... immediately!


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