Das Boot
Overview
Das Boot is a 1981 German epic
Epic film
An epic is a genre of film that emphasizes human drama on a grand scale. Epics are more ambitious in scope than other film genres, and their ambitious nature helps to differentiate them from similar genres such as the period piece or adventure film...

 war film
War film
War films are a film genre concerned with warfare, usually about naval, air or land battles, sometimes focusing instead on prisoners of war, covert operations, military training or other related subjects. At times war films focus on daily military or civilian life in wartime without depicting battles...

 written
Screenplay
A screenplay or script is a written work that is made especially for a film or television program. Screenplays can be original works or adaptations from existing pieces of writing. In them, the movement, actions, expression, and dialogues of the characters are also narrated...

 and directed
Film director
A film director is a person who directs the actors and film crew in filmmaking. They control a film's artistic and dramatic nathan roach, while guiding the technical crew and actors.-Responsibilities:...

 by Wolfgang Petersen
Wolfgang Petersen
Wolfgang Petersen is a German film director and screenwriter. His films include The NeverEnding Story, Enemy Mine, Outbreak, In the Line of Fire, Air Force One, The Perfect Storm, Troy, and Poseidon...

, produced by Günter Rohrbach, and starring Jürgen Prochnow
Jürgen Prochnow
Jürgen Prochnow is a German actor. His most well-known roles internationally have been as the sympathetic submarine captain in Das Boot , Duke Leto Atreides I in Dune , the minor, but important role of Neo-Stalinist dictator General Ivan Radek in Air Force One and the villain Maxwell Dent in...

, Herbert Grönemeyer
Herbert Grönemeyer
Herbert Grönemeyer is a German musician and actor, popular in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. He starred as war correspondent Lieutenant Werner in Wolfgang Petersen's movie Das Boot, but later concentrated on his musical career...

, and Klaus Wennemann
Klaus Wennemann
Klaus Wennemann was a German actor. He was best known for his roles as the Chief Engineer in Das Boot and as Faber in the TV series Der Fahnder. He died at the age of 59 from lung cancer....

. It has been exhibited both as a theatrical release and as a TV miniseries
Miniseries
A miniseries , in a serial storytelling medium, is a television show production which tells a story in a limited number of episodes. The exact number is open to interpretation; however, they are usually limited to fewer than a whole season. The term "miniseries" is generally a North American term...

, and in several different home video
Home video
Home video is a blanket term used for pre-recorded media that is either sold or rented/hired for home cinema entertainment. The term originates from the VHS/Betamax era but has carried over into current optical disc formats like DVD and Blu-ray Disc and, to a lesser extent, into methods of digital...

 versions of various running times.

Das Boot is an adaption of the 1973 German novel of the same name by Lothar-Günther Buchheim
Lothar-Günther Buchheim
Lothar-Günther Buchheim was a German author and painter. He is best known for his novel Das Boot , which became an international bestseller and was adapted in 1981 as an Oscar-nominated film.-Early life:...

. Set during World War II, the film tells the fictional story of U-96 and its crew.
Quotations

Our patrol planes! Where are they? Answer that one, Herr Göring!

[during the storm] The sea cannot claim us, Henrich. No ship is as seaworthy as ours.

[escaping from the British] They haven't spotted us! They're all snoring in their bunks! Or you know what? They're drinking in the bar! Celebrating our sinking! Not yet, my friends. Not yet!

[Captain, looking at logbook]Our recent triumphs: Dived to evade enemy aircraft. Lost contact. Dived to evade destroyer. Depth charged. The British have stopped making mistakes.

Hey look its Thomsen! THOOOMSSSEEN!! Good Hunting! You old rascal! My god Phillip! So they pushed you out to sea again!

[slowly suffocating in 290m depth] 'To be fearless and proud and alone. To need no one, just sacrifice. All for the Fatherland.' Oh God, all just empty words.

In the German version, Werner's words at this place were: I wanted to stand before something relentless. Where no woman crosses our path, and no mother looks after us. Where only the reality reigns, cruel and large. I was drunk of this prospect. (sobs) Now this is the reality.

Encyclopedia
Das Boot is a 1981 German epic
Epic film
An epic is a genre of film that emphasizes human drama on a grand scale. Epics are more ambitious in scope than other film genres, and their ambitious nature helps to differentiate them from similar genres such as the period piece or adventure film...

 war film
War film
War films are a film genre concerned with warfare, usually about naval, air or land battles, sometimes focusing instead on prisoners of war, covert operations, military training or other related subjects. At times war films focus on daily military or civilian life in wartime without depicting battles...

 written
Screenplay
A screenplay or script is a written work that is made especially for a film or television program. Screenplays can be original works or adaptations from existing pieces of writing. In them, the movement, actions, expression, and dialogues of the characters are also narrated...

 and directed
Film director
A film director is a person who directs the actors and film crew in filmmaking. They control a film's artistic and dramatic nathan roach, while guiding the technical crew and actors.-Responsibilities:...

 by Wolfgang Petersen
Wolfgang Petersen
Wolfgang Petersen is a German film director and screenwriter. His films include The NeverEnding Story, Enemy Mine, Outbreak, In the Line of Fire, Air Force One, The Perfect Storm, Troy, and Poseidon...

, produced by Günter Rohrbach, and starring Jürgen Prochnow
Jürgen Prochnow
Jürgen Prochnow is a German actor. His most well-known roles internationally have been as the sympathetic submarine captain in Das Boot , Duke Leto Atreides I in Dune , the minor, but important role of Neo-Stalinist dictator General Ivan Radek in Air Force One and the villain Maxwell Dent in...

, Herbert Grönemeyer
Herbert Grönemeyer
Herbert Grönemeyer is a German musician and actor, popular in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. He starred as war correspondent Lieutenant Werner in Wolfgang Petersen's movie Das Boot, but later concentrated on his musical career...

, and Klaus Wennemann
Klaus Wennemann
Klaus Wennemann was a German actor. He was best known for his roles as the Chief Engineer in Das Boot and as Faber in the TV series Der Fahnder. He died at the age of 59 from lung cancer....

. It has been exhibited both as a theatrical release and as a TV miniseries
Miniseries
A miniseries , in a serial storytelling medium, is a television show production which tells a story in a limited number of episodes. The exact number is open to interpretation; however, they are usually limited to fewer than a whole season. The term "miniseries" is generally a North American term...

, and in several different home video
Home video
Home video is a blanket term used for pre-recorded media that is either sold or rented/hired for home cinema entertainment. The term originates from the VHS/Betamax era but has carried over into current optical disc formats like DVD and Blu-ray Disc and, to a lesser extent, into methods of digital...

 versions of various running times.

Das Boot is an adaption of the 1973 German novel of the same name by Lothar-Günther Buchheim
Lothar-Günther Buchheim
Lothar-Günther Buchheim was a German author and painter. He is best known for his novel Das Boot , which became an international bestseller and was adapted in 1981 as an Oscar-nominated film.-Early life:...

. Set during World War II, the film tells the fictional story of U-96 and its crew. It depicts both the excitement of battle and the tedium of the fruitless hunt, and shows the men serving aboard U-boats as ordinary individuals with a desire to do their best for their comrades and their country. The screenplay used an amalgamation of exploits from the real , a Type VIIC-class U-boat
German Type VII submarine
Type VII U-boats were the most common type of German World War II U-boat. The Type VII was based on earlier German submarine designs going back to the World War I Type UB III, designed through the Dutch dummy company Ingenieurskantoor voor Scheepsbouw den Haag which was set up by Germany after...

 commanded by Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock, one of Germany's top U-boat "tonnage aces" during the war.

Development for Das Boot began in 1979. Several American directors were considered three years earlier before the film was shelved. During the film's production, Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock, the captain of the real U-96, and Hans-Joachim Krug, former first officer on , served as consultants. One of Petersen's goals was to guide the audience through "a journey to the edge of the mind" (the film's German tagline Eine Reise ans Ende des Verstandes), showing "what war is all about".

Produced with a budget of 32 million DM (about $18.5 million), the film was released on September 17, 1981 and was later released in 1997 in a director's cut
Director's cut
A director's cut is a specially edited version of a film, and less often TV series, music video, commercials, comic book or video games, that is supposed to represent the director's own approved edit...

 version supervised by Petersen. It grossed over $80 million ($190.2 million in 2009 prices) worldwide between its theatrical releases and received critical acclaim. Its high production cost ranks it among the most expensive films in the history of German cinema
Cinema of Germany
Cinema in Germany can be traced back to the late 19th century. German cinema has made major technical and artistic contributions to film.Unlike any other national cinemas, which developed in the context of relatively continuous and stable political systems, Germany witnesses major changes to its...

. It was the second most expensive up until that time, after Metropolis
Metropolis (film)
Metropolis is a 1927 German expressionist film in the science-fiction genre directed by Fritz Lang. Produced in Germany during a stable period of the Weimar Republic, Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban dystopia and makes use of this context to explore the social crisis between workers and...

.

Plot

The story is told from the viewpoint of Lt. Werner (Herbert Grönemeyer
Herbert Grönemeyer
Herbert Grönemeyer is a German musician and actor, popular in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. He starred as war correspondent Lieutenant Werner in Wolfgang Petersen's movie Das Boot, but later concentrated on his musical career...

), who has been assigned as a war correspondent
War correspondent
A war correspondent is a journalist who covers stories firsthand from a war zone. In the 19th century they were also called Special Correspondents.-Methods:...

 on the German submarine U-96 in October 1941. He meets its captain (Jürgen Prochnow
Jürgen Prochnow
Jürgen Prochnow is a German actor. His most well-known roles internationally have been as the sympathetic submarine captain in Das Boot , Duke Leto Atreides I in Dune , the minor, but important role of Neo-Stalinist dictator General Ivan Radek in Air Force One and the villain Maxwell Dent in...

), chief engineer (Klaus Wennemann
Klaus Wennemann
Klaus Wennemann was a German actor. He was best known for his roles as the Chief Engineer in Das Boot and as Faber in the TV series Der Fahnder. He died at the age of 59 from lung cancer....

), and the crew in a French nightclub. Thomsen (Otto Sander
Otto Sander
Otto Sander is a German film, theater, and voice actor.Sander grew up in Kassel, where he graduated in 1961 from the Friedrichgymnasium. After leaving school he spent his military service as a navy reserve officer and then studied theatre science, history of art and philosophy. In 1965 he made his...

), another captain, gives a crude drunken speech to celebrate his Ritterkreuz award
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was a grade of the 1939 version of the 1813 created Iron Cross . The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was the highest award of Germany to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership during World War II...

, in which he openly mocks Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 and implicitly Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

.

The next morning, they sail out of the harbour to cheering crowds and a playing band. Werner is given a tour of the boat. As time passes, he observes ideological differences between the new crew members and the hardened veterans, particularly the captain, who is embittered and cynical about the war. The new men, including Werner, are often mocked by the rest of the crew, who share a tight bond. After days of boredom, the crew is excited by another U-boat's spotting of an enemy convoy. They soon locate a British destroyer
Destroyer
In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

, but are bombarded with depth charge
Depth charge
A depth charge is an anti-submarine warfare weapon intended to destroy or cripple a target submarine by the shock of exploding near it. Most use explosives and a fuze set to go off at a preselected depth in the ocean. Depth charges can be dropped by either surface ships, patrol aircraft, or from...

s. They narrowly escape with only light damage.

The next three weeks are spent enduring a relentless storm. Morale drops after what seems like an endless series of misfortunes, but the crew is cheered temporarily by a chance encounter with Thomsen's boat. Shortly after the storm ends, the boat encounters a British convoy
Convoy
A convoy is a group of vehicles, typically motor vehicles or ships, traveling together for mutual support and protection. Often, a convoy is organized with armed defensive support, though it may also be used in a non-military sense, for example when driving through remote areas.-Age of Sail:Naval...

 and quickly launches four torpedoes, sinking two ships. However, they are spotted by a destroyer and have to dive below the submarine's rated limit
Submarine depth ratings
Depth ratings are primary design parameters and measures of a submarine's ability to operate underwater. The depths to which submarines can dive are limited by the strengths of their hulls...

. During the depth-charge attack, the chief mechanic, Johann, panics and has to be restrained. The boat sustains heavy damage, but is eventually able to safely surface in darkness. An enemy tanker remains afloat and on fire, so they torpedo the ship, only to realize that there are still sailors aboard; they watch in horror as the sailors, some on fire, leap overboard and swim towards them. Following orders not to take prisoners
War Order No. 154
War Order No. 154 was issued during World War II at the end of November or the beginning of December 1939. It was the first explicit instruction by the German Navy to use the tactics of unrestricted submarine warfare.-The order:...

, the captain gives the command to back the ship away.

The worn-out U-boat crew looks forward to returning home to La Rochelle
La Rochelle
La Rochelle is a city in western France and a seaport on the Bay of Biscay, a part of the Atlantic Ocean. It is the capital of the Charente-Maritime department.The city is connected to the Île de Ré by a bridge completed on 19 May 1988...

 in time for Christmas
Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

, but the ship is ordered to La Spezia
La Spezia
La Spezia , at the head of the Gulf of La Spezia in the Liguria region of northern Italy, is the capital city of the province of La Spezia. Located between Genoa and Pisa on the Ligurian Sea, it is one of the main Italian military and commercial harbours and hosts one of Italy's biggest military...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, which means passing through the Strait of Gibraltar
Strait of Gibraltar
The Strait of Gibraltar is a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Spain in Europe from Morocco in Africa. The name comes from Gibraltar, which in turn originates from the Arabic Jebel Tariq , albeit the Arab name for the Strait is Bab el-Zakat or...

 — an area heavily defended by the Royal Navy. The U-boat makes a secret night rendezvous at the harbour of Vigo
Vigo
Vigo is a city and municipality in north-west Spain, in Galicia, situated on the ria of the same name on the Atlantic Ocean.-Population:...

, in neutral
Neutral country
A neutral power in a particular war is a sovereign state which declares itself to be neutral towards the belligerents. A non-belligerent state does not need to be neutral. The rights and duties of a neutral power are defined in Sections 5 and 13 of the Hague Convention of 1907...

 Spain, with the SS Weser
SS Weser
SS Weser can refer to any of three ships originally owned and operated by North German Lloyd:, built in 1858, built in 1867, built in 1922It can also refer to a Bugsier Reederei und Bergungs ship, built in 1910...

, an interned German merchant ship that clandestinely provides U-boats with fuel, torpedoes, and other supplies. The filthy officers seem out of place on the opulent luxury liner, but are warmly greeted by enthusiastic Nazi
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 officers eager to hear their exploits. The captain learns from an envoy of the German consulate that his request for Werner and the chief engineer to be sent back to Germany has been denied.

The crew finishes resupplying and departs for Italy. As they carefully approach Gibraltar and are just about to dive, they are suddenly attacked by a British fighter plane, wounding the navigator. The captain orders the boat directly south towards the African coast at full speed. British ships begin closing in and she is forced to dive; it is later implied that the ships used HF/DF to locate her. When attempting to level off, the boat does not respond and continues to sink until, just before being crushed by the pressure, it lands on a sea shelf. The crew work desperately to make numerous repairs before running out of oxygen. After over 16 hours, they are able to surface by blowing out their ballast
Ballast tank
A ballast tank is a compartment within a boat, ship or other floating structure that holds water.-History:The basic concept behind the ballast tank can be seen in many forms of aquatic life, such as the blowfish or argonaut octopus, and the concept has been invented and reinvented many times by...

 of water, and limp home under the cover of darkness.

The crew is pale and weary upon returning to La Rochelle on Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve refers to the evening or entire day preceding Christmas Day, a widely celebrated festival commemorating the birth of Jesus of Nazareth that takes place on December 25...

. Shortly after the wounded navigator is taken ashore to a waiting ambulance, Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 planes bomb and strafe the facilities, wounding or killing most of the men. After the raid, Werner leaves the U-boat bunker
Submarine pen
A submarine pen is a bunker which is designed to protect submarines from air attack.The term is generally applied to submarine bases constructed during World War II, particularly in Germany and the occupied countries which were also known as U-boat pens .-Background:Amongst the first...

 in which he had taken shelter and finds the captain, with multiple bullet wounds and bleeding from the mouth, watching the U-boat sink at the dock. The captain dies after the boat disappears under the water.

Cast

  • Jürgen Prochnow
    Jürgen Prochnow
    Jürgen Prochnow is a German actor. His most well-known roles internationally have been as the sympathetic submarine captain in Das Boot , Duke Leto Atreides I in Dune , the minor, but important role of Neo-Stalinist dictator General Ivan Radek in Air Force One and the villain Maxwell Dent in...

     as the Commander
    Commander
    Commander is a naval rank which is also sometimes used as a military title depending on the individual customs of a given military service. Commander is also used as a rank or title in some organizations outside of the armed forces, particularly in police and law enforcement.-Commander as a naval...

     (Rank: Kapitänleutnant / "KaLeun", called "Der Alte" by his crew): A 30-year-old battle-hardened sea veteran, who complains to Werner that most of his crew are boys. Despite being openly anti-Nazi, he is engaged to a "Nazi girl" (a widow of a Luftwaffe
    Luftwaffe
    Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

     pilot). Prochnow later became one of the few German actors who established themselves in Hollywood.
  • Herbert Grönemeyer
    Herbert Grönemeyer
    Herbert Grönemeyer is a German musician and actor, popular in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. He starred as war correspondent Lieutenant Werner in Wolfgang Petersen's movie Das Boot, but later concentrated on his musical career...

     as Leutnant (Ensign) Werner, War Correspondent: The naive, but honest narrator. Werner is mocked for his lack of U-boat experience. Grönemeyer was a popular German singer before the film and still is.
  • Klaus Wennemann
    Klaus Wennemann
    Klaus Wennemann was a German actor. He was best known for his roles as the Chief Engineer in Das Boot and as Faber in the TV series Der Fahnder. He died at the age of 59 from lung cancer....

     as Chief Engineer (Leitender Ingenieur or LI, Rank: Oberleutnant): A quiet and well-respected man. At age 27, the oldest crew member besides the Captain. Tormented by the uncertain fate of his wife, especially after hearing about an Allied air raid
    Strategic bombing during World War II
    Strategic bombing during World War II is a term which refers to all aerial bombardment of a strategic nature between 1939 and 1945 involving any nations engaged in World War II...

     on Cologne
    Cologne
    Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

    . The second most important crewman, as he oversees diving operations and makes sure the systems are running correctly. Wennemann later became lead in a successful German detective series, Der Fahnder (the Investigator) before his death in 2000 from lung cancer
    Lung cancer
    Lung cancer is a disease characterized by uncontrolled cell growth in tissues of the lung. If left untreated, this growth can spread beyond the lung in a process called metastasis into nearby tissue and, eventually, into other parts of the body. Most cancers that start in lung, known as primary...

    .
  • Hubertus Bengsch
    Hubertus Bengsch
    Hubertus Bengsch is a German actor, best known for his role as the German First Officer in Das Boot.He also is well known for being the German voice of American actor Richard Gere.-External links:...

     as 1st Watch Officer (IWO, Rank: Oberleutnant): A young, by-the-book officer, an ardent Nazi and a staunch believer in victory. He has a condescending attitude and is the only crewman who makes the effort to maintain his proper uniform. Raised in some wealth in Mexico by his stepparents who owned a plantation. His German fiancée died in a British carpet bombing
    Carpet bombing
    Carpet bombing is a large aerial bombing done in a progressive manner to inflict damage in every part of a selected area of land. The phrase invokes the image of explosions completely covering an area, in the same way that a carpet covers a floor. Carpet bombing is usually achieved by dropping many...

     raid. He spends his days writing his thoughts on military training and leadership for the High Command. Bengsch later became a successful dubbing artist, providing (amongst others) the German voice of Richard Gere
    Richard Gere
    Richard Tiffany Gere is an American actor. He began acting in the 1970s, playing a supporting role in Looking for Mr. Goodbar, and a starring role in Days of Heaven. He came to prominence in 1980 for his role in the film American Gigolo, which established him as a leading man and a sex symbol...

    .
  • Martin Semmelrogge
    Martin Semmelrogge
    Martin Semmelrogge is a German actor, best known for his role as the comical 2WO in the film Das Boot...

     as 2nd Watch Officer (IIWO, Rank: Oberleutnant): A vulgar, comedic officer. He is short, red-haired and speaks with a mild Berlin dialect. One of his duties is to decode messages from base, using the Enigma code machine
    Enigma machine
    An Enigma machine is any of a family of related electro-mechanical rotor cipher machines used for the encryption and decryption of secret messages. Enigma was invented by German engineer Arthur Scherbius at the end of World War I...

    . The film started Semmelrogge's successful German film career.
  • Bernd Tauber
    Bernd Tauber
    Bernd Tauber is a German actor. He is best known for his role as Navigator Kriechbaum in the 1981 film Das Boot....

     as Obersteuermann ("Chief Helmsman", a Chief Petty Officer rank) Kriechbaum: The navigator and IIIWO (3rd Watch Officer). Always slightly sceptical of the Captain, and shows no enthusiasm during the voyage, or any anger when a convoy is too far away to be attacked. Kriechbaum has four sons, with another on the way. He is wounded in the airplane attack at Gibraltar. Following the film, Tauber became a successful actor; one of his roles was the first HIV
    HIV
    Human immunodeficiency virus is a lentivirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive...

    -positive character in West Germany television on Lindenstraße
    Lindenstraße
    Lindenstraße is a German television show on ARD's Das Erste, one of Germany's two publicly administered TV channels. The first episode was aired on December 8, 1985, and since then has been broadcast weekly. Its current timeslot on Das Erste is Sundays at 6:50 pm...

    .
  • Erwin Leder
    Erwin Leder
    Erwin Alois Robert Leder is an Austrian actor. He is best known for his role as Chief Mechanic Johann in Das Boot, a 1981 feature film directed by Wolfgang Petersen about a mission of one World War II U-boat and its crew...

     as Obermaschinist ("Chief Mechanic", another Chief Petty Officer rank) Johann: He is obsessed with a near-fetish love for the U96's engines. Suffers a temporary mental breakdown during an attack by two destroyers. He is able to redeem himself by valiantly working to stop water leaks when the boat is trapped underwater near Gibraltar. Speaks Austro-Bavarian. Leder appeared in the Gothic vampire film Underworld
    Underworld (2003 film)
    Underworld is a 2003 action-horror film about the secret history of Vampires and Lycans . It is the first installment in the Underworld series. The main plot revolves around Selene , a vampire who is a Death Dealer hunting Lycans...

    .

  • Martin May as Fähnrich (Senior Cadet) Ullmann: A young officer candidate who has a pregnant French
    French people
    The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

     fiancée (which is considered treason by the French partisans
    French Resistance
    The French Resistance is the name used to denote the collection of French resistance movements that fought against the Nazi German occupation of France and against the collaborationist Vichy régime during World War II...

    ) and worries about her safety. He is one of the few crew members with whom Werner is able to connect; Werner offers to deliver Ullmann's stack of love letters when Werner is ordered to leave the submarine.
  • Heinz Hoenig as Maat (Petty Officer) Hinrich: The radioman, sonar controller and ship's combat medic
    Combat medic
    Combat medics are trained military personnel who are responsible for providing first aid and frontline trauma care on the battlefield. They are also responsible for providing continuing medical care in the absence of a readily available physician, including care for disease and battle injury...

    . He is in many ways the third most important crewman, since he gauges speed and direction of targets and enemy destroyers. Hinrich is one of the few officers that the Captain is able to relate to. Hoenig later became one of the most sought-after character faces in German films.
  • Uwe Ochsenknecht
    Uwe Ochsenknecht
    Uwe Adam Ochsenknecht is a German actor and singer.-Work:Films Uwe Ochsenknecht has starred in include Schtonk!, Das Boot and the TV miniseries Frank Herbert's Dune.-Personal life:...

     as Bootsmann ("Boatswain", a Chief Petty Officer rank) Lamprecht: The severe chief who shows Werner around the U-96, and supervises the firing and reloading of the torpedo tubes. He gets upset after hearing on the radio that the football team most of the crew supports (FC Schalke 04
    FC Schalke 04
    Fußball-Club Gelsenkirchen-Schalke 04, commonly known as simply FC Schalke 04 or Schalke , is a German, association-football club originally from the Schalke district of Gelsenkirchen, North Rhine-Westphalia. Schalke has long been one of the most popular football teams in Germany, even though major...

    ) are losing a match, and they will "never make the final now". He speaks Hessian
    Hessian dialects
    Hessian is a West Central German group of dialects of the German language in the central German state of Hesse. The dialect most similar to Hessian is Palatinate German of the Rhine Franconian sub-family...

    . The film started Ochsenknecht's successful German film career.
  • Claude-Oliver Rudolph as Ario: The burly mechanic who tells everyone that Dufte is getting married to an ugly woman, and throws pictures around of Dufte's fiancée in order to laugh at them both.
  • Jan Fedder
    Jan Fedder
    Jan Fedder is a German actor. He is best known for his role as police officer Dirk Matthies in the German television show "Großstadtrevier"...

     as Maat (Petty Officer) Pilgrim: Another sailor (watch officer and diving planes operator), gets almost swept off the submarine, breaks several ribs and is hospitalised for a while. Speaks Hamburg dialect
    Hamburgisch
    Hamburgisch is a group of Northern Low Saxon varieties spoken in Hamburg, Germany. Occasionally, the term Hamburgisch is also used for Hamburg Missingsch, a variety of standard German with Low Saxon substrates...

    . Fedder later became lead in a successful light-hearted German police series, Großstadtrevier.
  • Ralf Richter
    Ralf Richter
    Ralf Richter is a German actor. He debuted as the crude sailor "Frenssen" in the Academy Award nominated 1981 film Das Boot and frequently appeared in German TV series...

     as Maat (Petty Officer) Frenssen: Pilgrim's best friend. Pilgrim and Frenssen love to trade dirty jokes and stories. He speaks Ruhr dialect
    Ruhr
    The Ruhr is a medium-size river in western Germany , a right tributary of the Rhine.-Description:The source of the Ruhr is near the town of Winterberg in the mountainous Sauerland region, at an elevation of approximately 2,200 feet...

    .
  • Joachim Bernhard as Bibelforscher ("Theologian", also the contemporary German term for a member of Jehovah's Witnesses
    Jehovah's Witnesses
    Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual...

    ): A very young religious sailor who is constantly reading the Bible. He is punched by Frenssen when the submarine is trapped at the bottom of the Straits of Gibraltar for praying rather than repairing the boat. Bernhard is the brother of Semmelrogge and has not acted since the early 1990s.
  • Oliver Stritzel
    Oliver Stritzel
    Oliver Stritzel is a German voice actor from Berlin.-Acting Roles:*Das Boot *Der Untergang -Television animation:*Hellsing -Theater animation:...

     as Schwalle: The blond sailor who speaks Berlin dialect
    Berlinerisch
    Berlinerisch, Berlinisch, or Berliner Schnauze is a dialect of Berlin Brandenburgish spoken in Berlin. It originates from a Mark Brandenburgish variant...

    . Along with live-action roles, Stritzel's career has largely been dominated by voice-over work and dubbing.
  • Jean-Claude Hoffmann as Benjamin: A red haired sailor who serves as a diving planes operator and watch officer.
  • Lutz Schnell as Dufte: The sailor who gets jeered at because he is getting married, and for a possible false airplane sighting. Schnell's later career was dominated by voice-over work.
  • Konrad Becker
    Konrad Becker
    Konrad Becker is a hypermedia researcher and interdisciplinary content developer, Director of the Institute for New Culture Technologies/t0 and initiator of Public Netbase and...

     as Böckstiegel: the sailor who is first visited by Hinrich for crab lice.
  • Otto Sander
    Otto Sander
    Otto Sander is a German film, theater, and voice actor.Sander grew up in Kassel, where he graduated in 1961 from the Friedrichgymnasium. After leaving school he spent his military service as a navy reserve officer and then studied theatre science, history of art and philosophy. In 1965 he made his...

     as Kapitänleutnant Philipp Thomsen: An alcoholic and shell-shocked
    Combat stress reaction
    Combat stress reaction , in the past commonly known as shell shock or battle fatigue, is a range of behaviours resulting from the stress of battle which decrease the combatant's fighting efficiency. The most common symptoms are fatigue, slower reaction times, indecision, disconnection from one's...

     U-boat commander, who is a member of "The Old Guard". When he is introduced, he is extremely drunk and briefly mocks Adolf Hitler on the stage of a French nightclub. (In the audio commentary of the director's-cut DVD, Petersen says that Sander was really drunk while they were shooting the scene.) Sometime after U-96 departs, Thomsen is deployed once again and the two submarines meet randomly in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean
    Atlantic Ocean
    The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

    . After failing to make contact later, the Captain is forced to report to HQ that Thomsen is missing. Otto Sander is one of Germany's most prolific character actors and played the angel Cassiel in Wings of Desire
    Wings of Desire
    Wings of Desire is a 1987 Franco-German romantic fantasy film directed by Wim Wenders. The film is about invisible, immortal angels who populate Berlin and listen to the thoughts of the human inhabitants and comfort those who are in distress...

    alongside Bruno Ganz
    Bruno Ganz
    Bruno Ganz is a Swiss actor, known for his roles as Damiel in Wings of Desire and Adolf Hitler in Downfall.- Early life :Bruno Ganz was born in Zürich to a Swiss mechanic father and a northern Italian mother. He had decided to pursue an acting career by the time he entered university...

    , who is best known for his role as Adolf Hitler
    Adolf Hitler
    Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

     in another critically acclaimed German World War II film Downfall
    Downfall (film)
    Downfall is a 2004 German/Italian/Austrian epic war film directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, depicting the final ten days of Adolf Hitler's life in his Berlin bunker and Nazi Germany in 1945....

    .
  • Günter Lamprecht as Kapitän zur See and Captain of the Weser: An enthusiastic Nazi officer aboard the resupply ship Weser. He mistakes the 1WO for the Captain as they enter the ship's elegant dining room, and complains about the frustration of not being able to fight, but boasts about the food that has been prepared for the crew, and the ship's "specialities". Lamprecht went on to have a successful career in German cinema and television, including a supporting role in Comedian Harmonists
    Comedian Harmonists (film)
    Comedian Harmonists is a 1997 German film by Joseph Vilsmaier. It is a biopic about the popular German vocal group Comedian Harmonists...

    alongside Otto Sander.
  • Sky du Mont
    Sky du Mont
    Sky du Mont is a German actor. He is known for his role in Eyes Wide Shut, as "Santa Maria" in Der Schuh des Manitu and for narrating the German dub of Thomas & Friends...

     as Oberleutnant and Officer aboard the Weser: An officer aboard the Weser whom the 2WO amuses with a comical demonstration of depth charging. For this appearance, du Mont is uncredited. du Mont narrates the German version of Thomas and Friends and appeared in the film Night Crossing
    Night Crossing
    Night Crossing is a 1982 Disney film starring John Hurt and Beau Bridges. The film is based on the true story of the Strelzyk and Wetzel families, who on September 16, 1979 escaped from East Germany to West Germany in a homemade hot air balloon during the days of the Berlin Wall when emigration to...

    , about an infamous escape from East Germany, as well as Stanley Kubrick
    Stanley Kubrick
    Stanley Kubrick was an American film director, writer, producer, and photographer who lived in England during most of the last four decades of his career...

    's Eyes Wide Shut
    Eyes Wide Shut
    Eyes Wide Shut is a 1999 drama film based upon Arthur Schnitzler's 1926 novella Traumnovelle . The film was directed, produced and co-written by Stanley Kubrick, and was his last film. The story, set in and around New York City, follows the sexually-charged adventures of Dr...

    .


The film features both Standard German-speakers and dialect
Dialect
The term dialect is used in two distinct ways, even by linguists. One usage refers to a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group of the language's speakers. The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors,...

 speakers. Petersen states in his DVD audio commentary that young men from throughout Germany and Austria were recruited for the film, as he wanted faces and dialects that would accurately reflect the diversity of the Third Reich
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

, circa 1941. All of the main actors are bilingual in German and English, and when the film was dubbed into English, each actor recorded his own part (with the exception of Martin Semmelrogge, who only dubbed his own role in the Director's Cut). The German version is dubbed as well, as the film was shot "silent", because the dialogue spoken on-set would have been drowned out by the gyroscope
Gyroscope
A gyroscope is a device for measuring or maintaining orientation, based on the principles of angular momentum. In essence, a mechanical gyroscope is a spinning wheel or disk whose axle is free to take any orientation...

s in the special camera developed for filming. While several actors went on to even greater success, Wolfgang Petersen established himself as a long-standing fixture as a Hollywood director and producer.

Production

Production of Das Boot took two years (1979–1981). Most of the filming was done in one year; to make the appearance of the actors as realistic as possible, scenes were filmed in sequence over the course of the year. This ensured natural growth of beards and hair, increasing skin pallor, and signs of strain on the actors, who had, just like real U-boat men, spent many months in a cramped, unhealthy atmosphere.

Production for this film originally began in 1976. Several American directors were considered, and the Kaleun (Kapitänleutnant) was to be played by Robert Redford
Robert Redford
Charles Robert Redford, Jr. , better known as Robert Redford, is an American actor, film director, producer, businessman, environmentalist, philanthropist, and founder of the Sundance Film Festival. He has received two Oscars: one in 1981 for directing Ordinary People, and one for Lifetime...

. Disagreements sprang up among various parties and the project was shelved. Another Hollywood production was attempted with other American directors in mind, this time with the Kaleun to be portrayed by Paul Newman
Paul Newman
Paul Leonard Newman was an American actor, film director, entrepreneur, humanitarian, professional racing driver and auto racing enthusiast...

. This effort primarily failed due to technical concerns, for example, how to film the close encounter of the two German submarines at sea during a storm.

The final scene of the captain collapsing gives the impression that he dies from his injuries, which was the director's intention. However, the real captain actually survived and visited the submarine set and met with Jürgen Prochnow during filming.

Sets and models

Several different sets were used. Two full-size mock-ups of a Type VIIC boat were built, one representing the portion above water for use in outdoor scenes, and the other a cylindrical tube on a motion mount for the interior scenes. The mock-ups were built according to U-boat plans from Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

's Museum of Science and Industry
Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago)
The Museum of Science and Industry is located in Chicago, Illinois, USA in Jackson Park, in the Hyde Park neighborhood adjacent to Lake Michigan. It is housed in the former Palace of Fine Arts from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition...

.

The outdoor mock-up was basically a shell propelled with a small engine, and stationed in La Rochelle, France and has a history of its own. One morning the production crew walked out to where they kept it afloat and found it missing. Someone had forgotten to inform the crew that an American filmmaker had rented the mock-up for his own film shooting in the area. This filmmaker was Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg
Steven Allan Spielberg KBE is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, video game designer, and studio entrepreneur. In a career of more than four decades, Spielberg's films have covered many themes and genres. Spielberg's early science-fiction and adventure films were seen as an...

 and the film he was shooting was Raiders of the Lost Ark
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Raiders of the Lost Ark is a 1981 American action-adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg, produced by George Lucas, and starring Harrison Ford. It is the first film in the Indiana Jones franchise...

. A few weeks later, during production, the mock-up cracked in a storm and sank, was recovered and patched to stand in for the final scenes. The full-sized mock-up was used during the Gibraltar surface scenes; the bomber plane (a Douglas SBD Dauntless
SBD Dauntless
The Douglas SBD Dauntless was a naval dive bomber made by Douglas during World War II. The SBD was the United States Navy's main dive bomber from mid-1940 until late 1943, when it was largely replaced by the SB2C Helldiver...

 dive bomber) and rockets were real while the British ships were models.

A mock-up of a conning tower was placed in a water tank at the Bavaria Studios
Bavaria Film Studios
The Bavaria Film in Geiselgasteig, a district of Munich's suburb Grünwald, Bavaria belongs to one of Europe's biggest and most famous film production companies.- History :...

 in Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

 for outdoor scenes not requiring a full view of the boat's exterior. When filming on the outdoor mockup or the conning tower, jets of cold water were hosed over the actors to simulate the breaking ocean waves. During the filming there was a scene where actor Jan Fedder
Jan Fedder
Jan Fedder is a German actor. He is best known for his role as police officer Dirk Matthies in the German television show "Großstadtrevier"...

 (Pilgrim) fell off the bridge while the U-boat was surfaced. Fedder broke several ribs. This scene was not scripted and during the take one of the actors exclaims "Mann über Bord!" in order to draw attention to Fedder. Petersen, who at first did not realise this was an accident said "Good idea, Jan. We'll do that one more time!" However, since Fedder was genuinely injured and had to be hospitalised, this was the only take available and eventually Petersen kept this scene in the film. In this scene, the pained expression on Fedder's face is authentic and not acted. Petersen also had to rewrite Fedder's character for a portion of the film so that the character was portrayed as bedridden. For his scenes later in the film Fedder had to be brought to and from set from the hospital since he suffered a concussion while filming his accident scene. Fedder eventually recovered enough and Pilgrim is seen on his feet from the scene when the U-96 abandons the British sailors. A half-sized full hull operating model was used for underwater shots and some surface running shots, in particular the meeting in stormy seas with another U-boat. The tank was also used for the shots of British sailors jumping from their ship; a small portion of the tanker hull was constructed for these shots.
The interior U-boat mock-up was mounted five metres off the floor and was shaken, rocked, and tilted up to 45 degrees by means of a hydraulic apparatus, and was vigorously shaken to simulate depth charge attacks. Petersen was admittedly obsessive about the structural detail of the U-boat set, remarking that "every screw" in the set was an authentic facsimile of the kind used in a World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 U-boat. In this he was considerably assisted by the numerous photographs Lothar-Günther Buchheim
Lothar-Günther Buchheim
Lothar-Günther Buchheim was a German author and painter. He is best known for his novel Das Boot , which became an international bestseller and was adapted in 1981 as an Oscar-nominated film.-Early life:...

 had taken during his own voyage on the historical U-96, some of which had been published in his 1976 book, U-Boot-Krieg ("U-Boat War").

Special camera

Most of the interior shots were filmed using a hand-held Arriflex of cinematographer Jost Vacano
Jost Vacano
Jost Vacano is a German cinematographer. He was the cinematographer of Das Boot and he also worked together with director Paul Verhoeven on seven films, including RoboCop and Total Recall.-Filmography:...

's design to convey the claustrophobic atmosphere of the boat. It had two gyroscopes to provide stability, a different and smaller scale solution than the Steadicam
Steadicam
A Steadicam is a stabilizing mount for a motion picture camera that mechanically isolates it from the operator's movement, allowing a smooth shot even when moving quickly over an uneven surface...

, so that it could be carried throughout the interior of the mock-up. Vacano wore full-body padding to minimise injury as he ran and the mock-up was rocked and shaken. The gyroscopes used to stabilize his rig were very noisy, and most of the film had to be dubbed as the location sound was unusable.

Throughout the filming, the actors were forbidden to go out into the sunlight, to create the pallor of men who seldom saw the sun during their missions. The actors went through intensive training to learn how to move quickly through the narrow confines of the vessel.

Versions

Several versions of the film and video releases have been made: The first version to be released was the theatrical 150-minute (2½-hour) cut, released to theatres in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 in 1981, and in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 in 1982. It was nominated for six Academy Awards (Cinematography
Academy Award for Best Cinematography
The Academy Award for Best Cinematography is an Academy Award awarded each year to a cinematographer for work in one particular motion picture.-History:...

, Directing, Film Editing
Academy Award for Film Editing
The Academy Award for Film Editing is one of the annual awards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Nominations for this award are closely correlated with the Academy Award for Best Picture. Since 1981, every film selected as Best Picture has also been nominated for the Film Editing...

, Sound (Milan Bor
Milan Bor
Milan Bor is a German sound engineer. He was nominated for an Academy Award in the category Best Sound for the film Das Boot.-External links:...

, Trevor Pyke
Trevor Pyke
Trevor Pyke is an American sound engineer. He was nominated for an Academy Award in the category Best Sound for the film Das Boot.-External links:...

 and Mike Le Mare
Mike Le Mare
Mike Le Mare is an American sound engineer. He was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Sound and Best Effects for the film Das Boot.-External links:...

), Sound Effects Editing
Academy Award for Sound Editing
The Academy Award of Merit for Best Sound Editing is an Academy Award granted yearly to a film exhibiting the finest or most aesthetic sound editing or sound design...

, and Writing
Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay
The Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay is one of the Academy Awards, the most prominent film awards in the United States. It is awarded each year to the writer of a screenplay adapted from another source...

).

The film was partly financed by the German television broadcasters WDR
Westdeutscher Rundfunk
Westdeutscher Rundfunk is a German public-broadcasting institution based in the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia with its main office in Cologne. WDR is a constituent member of the consortium of German public-broadcasting institutions, ARD...

 and the SDR
Süddeutscher Rundfunk
The Süddeutscher Rundfunk was a German radio and television station operating in the northern part of the state of Baden-Württemberg. It existed from 1949 to 1998, when it was merged with the then Südwestfunk to form the Südwestrundfunk....

, and much more footage had been shot for the film than was shown in the theatrical version. A version of three 100 minute episodes was transmitted on BBC Two
BBC Two
BBC Two is the second television channel operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom. It covers a wide range of subject matter, but tending towards more 'highbrow' programmes than the more mainstream and popular BBC One. Like the BBC's other domestic TV and radio...

 in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 in October 1984, and in Germany and Austria the following year. In 1988 a version comprising six 50 minute episodes was screened. These episodes had additional cutback scenes summarising past episodes.

Petersen then oversaw the editing of six hours of film, from which was distilled Das Boot: The Director's Cut, 209 minutes long (3 hours, 29 minutes), released in 1997, which combines the action sequences seen in the feature-length version with character development scenes contained in the mini-series. This release also provides better sound and video quality. Petersen originally had planned to release this version in 1981, which for commercial reasons was not possible. The Director's Cut was released to cinemas in Germany on 11 December and on 4 April 1997 in the U.S. In addition to the "Director's Cut" DVD, a Superbit
Superbit
Superbit was a brand of premium DVD-Video versions of motion pictures from Columbia TriStar Home Video, a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment. Superbit DVDs aimed to improve picture quality over a standard DVD edition of a feature by increasing the bit rate of the encoded video...

 version, with fewer additional DVD features but a higher bit-rate (superior quality), was released by Columbia Pictures.

An uncut miniseries version, running 293 minutes (four hours, 53 minutes), was released to DVD on 1 June 2004, as Das Boot: The Original Uncut Version with enhanced video and audio quality. It omits the cutback scenes of the 1988 television broadcast and is therefore shorter.

On 14 October 2010, the 208 minute Director's Cut was released on a German-language Blu-ray Disc
Blu-ray Disc
Blu-ray Disc is an optical disc storage medium designed to supersede the DVD format. The plastic disc is 120 mm in diameter and 1.2 mm thick, the same size as DVDs and CDs. Blu-ray Discs contain 25 GB per layer, with dual layer discs being the norm for feature-length video discs...

 in Europe. It was released in the United States on 5 July 2011.

List

  • 150 minutes (1981, 1982) Theatrical
  • 209 minutes (1981) unreleased
  • 300 minutes (1984, 1988) BBC mini-series
  • 293 minutes (2004) Das Boot: The Original Uncut Version
  • 208 minutes (1997, 2010) Director's Cut

Reception

The film drew highest critical acclaim and is seen as one of the greatest of all German films, along with Nosferatu by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau
Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau
Friedrich Wilhelm "F. W." Murnau was one of the most influential German film directors of the silent era, and a prominent figure in the expressionist movement in German cinema during the 1920s...

, Metropolis
Metropolis (film)
Metropolis is a 1927 German expressionist film in the science-fiction genre directed by Fritz Lang. Produced in Germany during a stable period of the Weimar Republic, Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban dystopia and makes use of this context to explore the social crisis between workers and...

 and M
M (1931 film)
M is a 1931 German drama-thriller directed by Fritz Lang and written by Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou. It was Lang's first sound film, although he had directed more than a dozen films previously....

 by Fritz Lang
Fritz Lang
Friedrich Christian Anton "Fritz" Lang was an Austrian-American filmmaker, screenwriter, and occasional film producer and actor. One of the best known émigrés from Germany's school of Expressionism, he was dubbed the "Master of Darkness" by the British Film Institute...

, The Blue Angel with Marlene Dietrich
Marlene Dietrich
Marlene Dietrich was a German-American actress and singer.Dietrich remained popular throughout her long career by continually re-inventing herself, professionally and characteristically. In the Berlin of the 1920s, she acted on the stage and in silent films...

, Downfall
Downfall (film)
Downfall is a 2004 German/Italian/Austrian epic war film directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, depicting the final ten days of Adolf Hitler's life in his Berlin bunker and Nazi Germany in 1945....

by Oliver Hirschbiegel
Oliver Hirschbiegel
Oliver Hirschbiegel is a German film director. His works include Das Experiment and the Oscar nominated Der Untergang.- Career :...

 and The Lives of Others
The Lives of Others
The Lives of Others is a 2006 German drama film, marking the feature film debut of filmmaker Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. The film involves the monitoring of the cultural scene of East Berlin by agents of the Stasi, the GDR's secret police...

by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Florian Maria Georg Christian, Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck is a German film director, best known for writing and directing the 2007 Oscar-winning film The Lives of Others and the 2010 film The Tourist.-Personal life and family:...

. For its (so far) unsurpassed authenticity in tension and realism, it is regarded internationally as pre-eminent among all submarine films. The film was ranked #25 in Empire
Empire (magazine)
Empire is a British film magazine published monthly by Bauer Consumer Media. From the first issue in July 1989, the magazine was edited by Barry McIlheney and published by Emap. Bauer purchased Emap Consumer Media in early 2008...

magazine's "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema" in 2010.

In late 2007, there was an exhibition about the film Das Boot, as well as about the real U-Boat U-96, at the Haus der Geschichte (House of German History) in Bonn
Bonn
Bonn is the 19th largest city in Germany. Located in the Cologne/Bonn Region, about 25 kilometres south of Cologne on the river Rhine in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, it was the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990 and the official seat of government of united Germany from 1990 to 1999....

. Over 100,000 people visited the exhibition during its four-month run.

Promotion

The film was unusual in its North American promotion, since it was referred to both in German as Das Boot, and in English as The Boat. The lack of drama in the translated title eventually led to its being marginalized, with Das Boot becoming the normal title for the film. For a time, it was called Das Boot (The Boat).

Historical accuracy

In the film, there is only one ardent Nazi in the crew of 40, namely the First Watch Officer (referred to comically in one scene as Unser Hitlerjugendführer
Hitlerjugendführer
Hitlerjugendführer was a paramilitary title of the Hitler Youth which existed within the Nazi Party from approximately 1928 to the fall of Nazi Germany in 1945.- Description :...

or "Our Hitler Youth
Hitler Youth
The Hitler Youth was a paramilitary organization of the Nazi Party. It existed from 1922 to 1945. The HJ was the second oldest paramilitary Nazi group, founded one year after its adult counterpart, the Sturmabteilung...

 Leader"), with the rest of the officers either indifferent or, in the Captain's case, openly cynical. The enlisted sailors and NCO are portrayed as apolitical. In his book Iron Coffins, former U-boat commander Herbert A. Werner states that the selection of naval personnel based on their loyalty to the party only occurred later in the war (from 1943 onward), when the U-boats were suffering high casualties. At that stage in the war, morale was surely declining and this degree of skepticism may have occurred. In support of Das Boot on this subject, U-Boat historian Michael Gannon
Michael Gannon (historian)
Michael V. Gannon is an American military historian, academic and former war correspondent. He was born in 1928.During World War II, Gannon was a member of the American Field Service, in the 1950s he wrote on European military topics and in 1968, he was a war correspondent in Vietnam...

 maintains that the U-boat navy was one of the least pro-Nazi branches of the German armed forces.

Even though the beginning and the end of the film occur in the port of La Rochelle, it does not correspond historically. The submarine base
Submarine base
A submarine base is a military base that shelters submarines and their personnel.Examples of present-day submarine bases include HMNB Clyde, Île Longue , Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Naval Submarine Base New London, and Rybachiy Nuclear Submarine Base .The Israeli navy bases its growing submarine...

 in La Rochelle was not functional before November 1941, and at the time of the film the port was dried up. Moreover, none of the British fighter-bombers of late 1941 to early 1942 had the range to bomb La Rochelle from bases in the U.K.; however, it is possible the fighters were carrier-based and not land based. While Saint-Nazaire
Saint-Nazaire
Saint-Nazaire , is a commune in the Loire-Atlantique department in western France.The town has a major harbour, on the right bank of the Loire River estuary, near the Atlantic Ocean. The town is at the south of the second-largest swamp in France, called "la Brière"...

 was the base used in the novel, the film was changed to La Rochelle because its appearance had not changed to such a large degree in the years since World War II.

Criticism by novelist Buchheim

Buchheim himself was a U-boat correspondent. He has stated that the following film scenes are unrealistic:
  • In the film, an unidentified member of the crew throws an oil-stained towel into Lt. Werner's face. As a Lieutenant, Werner would have commanded special respect and in reality, the culprit would have been court-martialed and received a hefty sentence.
  • The crew behaves far too loudly during patrols; the celebrations after getting a torpedo hit were described as unprofessional. For example, after surviving a bombing, the crew celebrate loudly in their bunks, even with a sailor dressing up as a woman in a red-lit room.


Even though overwhelmed by the literally perfect technological accuracy of the film's set-design and port construction buildings, novel author Lothar-Günter Buchheim expressed great disappointment with Petersen's adaptation in a film review published in 1981, especially with Petersen's aesthetic vision for the film and the way the plot and the effects are, according to him, overdone and clichéd by the adaptation. He also criticised the hysterical over-acting of the cast, which he called highly unrealistic, while acknowledging the cast's acting talent in general. Buchheim, after several attempts for an American adaptation had failed, had provided a script detailing his own narrative, cinematographical and photographical ideas as soon as Petersen was chosen as new director. It would have amounted in full to a complete 6-hour epic; however, Petersen turned him down because at the time the producers were aiming for a 90-minute feature for international release. Ironically, today's Director's Cut of Das Boot amounts to over 200 minutes, and the complete TV version of the film is 282 minutes long.

Buchheim attacked specifically what he called Petersen's sacrificing of both realism and suspense in dialogue, narration, and photography for the sake of cheap dramatic thrills and action effects (for example, in reality one single exploding bolt of the boat's pressure hull would have been enough for the whole crew to worry about the U-boat being crushed by water pressure, while Petersen has several bolts loosening in various scenes).

Uttering deep concerns about the end result, Buchheim felt that unlike his clearly anti-war novel the adaptation was "another re-glorification and re-mystification" of the German World War II U-boat war, German heroism and nationalism. He called the film a cross between a "cheap, shallow American action flick" and a "contemporary German propaganda newsreel from World War II".

Soundtrack

The characteristic lead melody of the soundtrack, composed and produced by Klaus Doldinger
Klaus Doldinger
Klaus Doldinger is a German saxophonist, especially well-known for jazz and as a composer of film music. He was the recipient of 1997's Bavarian Film Awards .-Life and work:...

, took on a life of its own after German rave
Rave music
Rave music may either refer the late 1980s genre or any genre of electronic dance music that may be played at an electronic dance party such as a rave. Very rarely, the term is used to refer to less electronic related genres glam, powerpop, psychedelic rock and dub music parties...

 group U96
U96
U96 is a dance music project formed by the German DJ and producer Alex Christensen and a team of producers called Matiz , known for a number of 1990s Eurodance hits.-Biography:...

 created a remixed "techno version" in 1991. The title theme "Das Boot
Das Boot (song)
"Das Boot" is the title theme to the film and TV Series Das Boot, composed and produced by Klaus Doldinger, released on single and album in 1981....

" later became an international hit.

The official soundtrack includes only compositions by Doldinger, except for J'attendrai
J'attendrai
"J'attendrai" is a French popular song recorded by Rina Ketty in 1938. It is a translation of the Italian song "Tornerai" composed by Dino Olivieri and Nino Rastelli in 1933; the French lyrics were written by Louis Potérat...

sung by Rina Ketty
Rina Ketty
Rina Ketty , born Rina Pichetto, was a French chanteuse.-Life:Rina Ketty was born Rina Pichetto on 1 March 1911 in Sarzana, Italy. She went to Paris in the 1930s. In 1938 and 1939, she made her breakthrough with songs like Sombreros et mantilles and J'attendrai...

.

Songs heard in the film, but not included on the album are La Paloma
La Paloma
This article is about the song. For the American city, see La Paloma, Texas."La Paloma" is a popular song, having been produced and reinterpreted in diverse cultures, settings, arrangements, and recordings over the last 140 years. The song was composed and written by Spanish composer Sebastián...

sung by Rosita Serrano
Rosita Serrano
Rosita Serrano was a Chilean singer who had her biggest success in Nazi Germany between the 1930s and the early 1940s. Because of her bell-like voice and pitch-perfect whistling she received the nickname Chilenische Nachtigall .Rosita Serano was born in Viña del Mar, Chile on 10 June 1914...

, the Erzherzog-Albrecht-Marsch
Erzherzog-Albrecht-Marsch
The Erzherzog-Albrecht-Marsch is a German military march, composed by Karel Komzák II It was used extensively in World War I and World War II, especially during the departures and arrivals of U-boats...

(a popular military march), and It's a Long Way to Tipperary
It's a Long Way to Tipperary
It's a Long Way to Tipperary is a British music hall and marching song written by Jack Judge and co-credited to, but not co-written by, Henry James "Harry" Williams. It was allegedly written for a 5 shilling bet in Stalybridge on 30 January 1912 and performed the next night at the local music hall...

performed by the Red Army Chorus
Red Army Choir
The A.V. Alexandrov Russian army twice red-bannered academic song and dance ensemble , in short, the Alexandrov ensemble is a performing ensemble that serves as the official army choir of the Russian armed forces...

.

See also

  • Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock
  • List of U-boat aces
  • Submarine films
  • Battle of the Atlantic (1939–1945)
  • The Cruel Sea
    The Cruel Sea (film)
    The Cruel Sea is a 1953 British film from Ealing Studios starring Jack Hawkins and Donald Sinden, with Denholm Elliott, Stanley Baker, Liam Redmond, Virginia McKenna and Moira Lister...


External links

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