Das Boot

Das Boot aka The Boat (Wolfgan Petersen, 1981)

Before I start I want to make clear that this review is about the TV version of this feature that has been release in three different format: the Theatrical release, the Director's Cut aka TV version, and the mini-series. This viewing was a part of my quest to watch the entire list of the 1000 Greatest Films of the passionate folks at They Shoot Pictures Don't They? Das Boot being the 508th film I've seen from the list I am way ahead my goal to achieve my 500th film by the end of 2011. This adventure/War/Action/drama transgenre extravaganza from writer director Wolfgang Petersen a director who made more ordinary movies than he did great films managed to do an ok job with Das Boot. Since the film has its confortable spot on IMDb Top 250, a list I don't really give too much credit, still it gives the recognition of a popular film amongst film enthusiasts. I had more than one good reason to watch it. Anyway, it wasn't a film I wanted or had the urge to see. However, I recorded it on my DVR and it was time to give it a spin.

Introducing us to the crew of the u-boat by the exterior journalist as the witness of the inside of the litteral machine that is the works of this ship, was a classic yet efficient way to dip the audience into the core of the sets and society that represents the whole film. The kind of job that isn't related to mariners or army men makes it even more reliable to us while we enter this closed fauna. However, I think this technique is kind of bold and lacks in originality especially here, in a three hours film where anyway you get into the action and the suspense, no matter if you don't belong here no one belongs into a war!

At the same time I quite enjoyed lots of interesting aspects of the plot, the German side in the Second World War shot by Germans: I mean, how many German films were made about their side of the whole events and depicted their almost doomed ending in the last moments of the war? I can't relate to much either especially before 1981. Also I want to give credits to Petersen for having directed a very efficient film on the side of suspense, tension, and understanding of the moments of reclusion and bore these guys should have lived in the submarine. There's a claustrophobic kind of feeling when you are watching Das Boot as in the same time when the ship sinks into the depths of Ocean it almost feels like the comfort and safety of being inside the u-boat and not outside gives it a sense of maternal symbolism to the ship. Even if the whole crew is in the worst place it can possibly be I think that these are the greatest and most succesful moments depicted. The character development is at its best and the relationships between the men has this little thing that missed all along the rest of the film, urgency and enough time to let the moments fill the scene. It is almost as if the time stopped and the film took a step in quality.

After all the wait and the expectations about seing Das Boot I probably got my expectations too high or wasn't really interpelled by the story and its whole "dénouement", it kinda bored me and even if the aforementionned scenes were interesting I don't hink the entire movie is worth the time spent for the enjoyment or entertainment it brought to me. It reminded me of the Band of Brothers miniseries. It was all about entertainment, action, and few character developpment a piece of History brought back to life to fulfill the taste of distraction but no real approach or comment about war and the consequences of it all. It doesn't have to be moralist about it but at least present a coloured view and/or commentary. Worth a look.


  1. I'm afraid I didn't understand which of the three versions you saw and were reviewing. I've seen the long version (theatrical) and the really long version (Director's Cut), but I haven't seen the really, really long version (TV Miniseries).

    I consider this one of the best, if not the best, German films ever made. It's definitely the best submarine movie ever made. The scene where they are trapped under water is absolutely incredible.

    Sorry it didn't live up to the hype for you.

  2. I saw this on TV way back in my youth and don't remember very much about it. It's one I've been meaning to rewatch for awhile now but I never seem to get in the mood for.

  3. @Chip, It was the long version (Theatrical). I must admit that the scene you mentioned is my favorite too! But I thought the rest of the film didn't deserve the buzz it all has. It's far from being a turkey but I don't think it's a masterpiece...

    @Bonjour Tristesse, I understand not getting in the mood to watch this mastodon of a film... Especially if you already seen it before. I prefer to watch a film I've never seen instead of revisiting one... I think it is worth the look 'though.


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