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Das Boot - The Director's Cut (1982)

Wolfgang Petersen's epic 1982 film about a crew aboard a German U-boat.

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An Unqualified Masterpiece!

  • Sep 26, 2005
  • by
Almost 30 years after its theatrical release, Das Boot stands up as a thoroughly engrossing classic, perhaps the standard by which all other naval war movies should be judged! Director Wolfgang Petersen's masterwork tells the story of a U-boat crew that strives to perform their duty and stay alive under the multiple threat of enemy combatants, a capricious command structure, and the harrowing realities of life in a submarine.

It's all there in this Director's Cut edition. The omnipresent sense of claustrophobia, the unpleasant trivialities of a submariner's day to day existence and a realistic portrayal of men at war. Yes, the men are Germans, looking to sink British shipping. But they could easily be American, British, Chinese or Japanese. The emotions, the frustrations, anxieties and triumphs are universal. It's not about politics, it's about staying alive and waging war, simultaneously hating and respecting your adversary.

The story follows the U-boat and it's crew on patrol, with the initial days at sea occupied by training and preparation; followed by the tension and boredom of the hunt. Then there is the point of combat, accentuated by the moment at which the hunter becomes the hunted, culminating in a harrowing sequence when the boat and its crew are trapped at the bottom of the sea, dependent upon some simple wire for any hope of survival.

The only cast member that might be recognizable by Americans is Jurgen Prochnow (the captain), but the work by the entire cast is fantastic. In particular, Klaus Wennemann as the Chief Engineer almost assumes the personality of the boat; while
Herbert Gr├Ânemeyer as Lt. Werner serves as the observer seeing action underwater for the very first time.

The DVD format is particularly good for this film. First off, you'll probably want to watch it more than once, just to catch all of the nuances. Best of all, you can elect to watch it with either the original German soundtrack or in the dubbed English. I might recommend that you watch it in English first, and then the German, you might appreciate it more that way. Also the "making of" and the interviews available with the DVD are engrossing as well.

I've read that Das Boot is historically accurate, and I have no reason to question that. After reading the book "Shadow Divers" about the discovery of a sunken U-boat off the coast of New Jersey, I just had to watch this.

Das Boot was a classic when it hit the theaters, it's a classic today, it will likely be a classic 50 years from now... and deservedly so!

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More Das Boot (1982 film) reviews
Quick Tip by . April 23, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Keep in mind that I'm referring to the 293 minute, uncut version of the movie.      Das Boot is a masterpiece of film to me, because aside from the fact that it had great acting and perfectly capturing that feeling of being stuck in a submarine during sub warfare, I still find it remarkable that Wolfgang Petersen was able to make a 5 hour movie that didn't bore me at any moment, even during the "slow" parts.   Klaus Doldinger's soundtrack for the …
review by . May 29, 2007
I have seen this movie twice in my life time and even though I'm unfamiliar with these actors this director did I magnificent job with this film. "Das Boot" looks at war from the point of your average day person. There are no heroes, just people that have a certain job to do. This movie is excellent for many reasons. For a movie its length, first and foremost, it is extremely entertaining and engaging. It was a surprisingly quick three and half hours.    What I really liked most …
review by . January 02, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
The stage on which this movie is filmed is an important  part of the story: the cramped quarters of the submarine  magnify the tension of the wartime action. You cannot help  but identify with the men trapped under water as the pressure  mounts on their inflated can and the rivets holding it together  start to ping loose.   Having breathed with them and felt yourself almost crushed  on the floor of the Mediterranean, there is …
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About this movie


This is the restored, 209-minute director's cut of Wolfgang Petersen's harrowing and claustrophobic U-boat thriller, which was theatrically re-released in 1997. Originally made as a five-hour miniseries, this version devotes more time to getting to know the crew before they and their stoic captain (Jürgen Prochnow) get aboard their U-boat and find themselves stranded at the bottom of the sea.Das Boot puts you inside that submerged vessel and explores the physical and emotional tensions of the situation with a vivid, terrifying realism that few movies can match. As Petersen tightens the screws and the submerged ship blows bolts, the pressure builds to such unbearable levels that you may be tempted to escape for a nice walk on solid land in the great outdoors--only you wouldn't dream of looking away from the screen.--Jim Emerson
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Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Genre: Drama, History, War
DVD Release Date: December 10, 1997
Runtime: 149 minutes; 209 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures
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