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Das Boot – Director’s cut – [1981] – German

August 17, 2010
Not many a times a movie beats my sleep and makes me to sit for more than 3 hours (Even though I slept as I have to wake up early the next day. Given I had no work by the next day I would have stayed awake for the whole movie). This is the second time that happened and the movie is ‘Das Boot’. It’s about a German crew’s journey in a submarine during World war II. There is a saying that history is written by winners. But this film presents us the picture of the soldiers of Germany who were as excited as, as suffered as the allied forces.

Its a journey of some 40+ young members in a U-boat named U-96 in 1941, under a captain who was a war veteran. Its being said that almost 40,000 sailors fought in U-boats for Germany and 30,000 never returned back. And many of them were so young that they tasted the war for the first time during WWII. As summed up by the captain during the coversation between the lieutinant about the men under him,

I feel ancient around these kids. Like I’m on some Children’s Crusade

Once the initial introduction around the submarine is done, we join those men and travel with them. The journey is all about unexpected things. They didn’t know what they got into, always live their life on the edge of the anxiety. So did they return back successfully from their journey? It is one thing we have to find out but this movie is more than that.

First this is a journey of a most hated armymen in the world. The Nazis. So the director must make the viewer to take the side of the soldiers who travel in the  U-boat and must make us to care for them. There is also hidden thing that director wants to convey is those soldiers have nothing to do with the ideology of Nazism. On this account, the movie performs admirably well as the movie concentrates more on human emotion than the political backdrop.

The sense of claustrophobia comes to the soldiers travelling in U-boat when the first bomb is dropped at them and the same was being felt by us. We are as much as knowledgable and as much feared as them as the movie focusses only the U-boat. Anytime a bomb will be dropped on them. Also when the submarines moves too deep to safeguard itself from the bombs, tension eleavates within the crew as the boat has to sustain the pressure of the water. Tension not only elevates within the screen but also to us. There lies the victory of this movie. We care for them, we want them to triumph, we want them to overcome all the odds.

The movie also documents the changes in the physical apperarnace of the soldiers due to the rigorous travel in a confined space. We feel the joy of the soldiers when they find a target to send their torpedoes (missiles from Submarines used to strike the enemies) and their helplessness when the submarine keeps going down after the engine failure.

The cinematography of this movie top notch which catches those emotion within the confined space. I don’t want to say anything about editing other than that we don’t even turn anywhere while the movie runs on the screen.

Even though no long duration battlescenes are present in the movie, it just keeps the viewer guessing of ‘anything can happen anytime’ about the approaching enemies destroyer ships. And there this movie claims its position in thriller genre and its absolutely warranted. And while the submarine moves through the Gibraltor strait, it is the best thrill moment in a movie we can get.

Music takes this film to a different level. I just loved it. Be it the joy expressed when the submarine moves in all its glory or those tense moments spent while moving slowly down deep or those gloomy moments, Klaus Doldinger’s music makes it double. Just find the sample of his work below. Its haunting.

Its not easy to find a film which provides the top-notch acting, edge-of-the-seat thrilling moments, what the war is all about, sense of human triumph and their agony. And this movie does that with aplomb. So watch it.

Hats off to the director of the movie, Wolfgang Pieterson, for such a movie. Its a privilege to watch this one.  I am happy that I viewed this one.



Note 1: This movie is adapted from the novel by the same name written by  Lothar-Günther Buchheim.

Note 2: There are several version of this movie is available where the length of the film varies from 150 mins to 240+ minutes. I have watched the director’s cut released by 1997, the length of which is 199 minutes. From what I have heard is, each and every version is entertaining.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. August 18, 2010 12:47 am

    I am not much of a war/action movie person, but this one indeed sounds interesting..and you review very well you know..I do not read reviews much, but enjoyed reading your post 🙂

    kanagu: Thank you very much Neha.. thats a huge compliment for me 🙂 🙂 Hope you like the movie when u watch it.. 🙂

  2. August 18, 2010 4:29 am

    I was overwhelmed when I saw the title and thought that at least someone wrote a tribute to the TEN BOOTS they own 😥 What a shock I tell ya for a shoe lover like me 😯

    kanagu: ROFL… 😆 How one can love shoes??? 😯 🙄 😯 🙄 you are second person I have met in life who love shoes.. 😀 😀
    I think you will get well along with my husband who loves war movies too 😛 Well come to think of it, I can understand my husband’s fondness for war movies as he needs to learn war strategies to fight a wife :mrgreen: But what are you up to watching so many war movies at one go?? 😛 😛 Planning to apply at Bharath Matrimony or what? :mrgreen:

    kanagu: OMG!!! you are able to connect war movies and marriage 😯 What else I can write here… already I am not using any word close to romance 😥 😥 thanks for accepting that it’s tough to with a wife and it requires war strategies :mrgreen: 😆
    Wokay! I have watched this movie and I have mixed opinions 😦 😦 I felt the director was obsessed with showing the heroism of the Germans and worst in the end it was all like another high energy action movie. I have heard the book is nothing like that and it was all about anti war.

    kanagu: Heroism is there in every army and war, isn’t it??? I felt the director wanted to convey that the German soldiers has nothing to do with the thoughts of Hitler and his officials and they are common people who love each other and suffer at the battle ground.. and for ending its quite an irony maybe director want to tell about the fall of Nazis… 🙂 but its difficult to replicate what is said in book na.. also its all about our interpretation.. this movie also can be seen as anti-war for the way it shows the love between German soldier and French girl, also when they attack and destorys an enemy ship many from that ship swim towards their submarine but due to the orders given to them they won’t take any of them and leave them for dead… and one in their crew weeps uncontrollably…

    • August 18, 2010 11:17 am

      ROFL 😛 He hs started it early Saksh 😉 😉

      LOl @ tribute to TEN BOOTS 😛 😛

    • August 18, 2010 2:28 pm

      I was so agreeing and nodding my head all along on your second paragraph :mrgreen: for I too feel the very same for my war movie lover husband 😀 😀

  3. August 18, 2010 2:31 pm

    After reading Sakshi’s comment my curiosity to find out the real story has grown despite the theme of the movie being based on a war front 8)

    kanagu: grrrrrrrrrrr 👿
    That was a wonderful review Kanagu, now I need to see the movie just to find out the real story 😉 😉

    kanagu: thanks CB 🙂 🙂 Again grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr 👿

  4. August 18, 2010 4:40 pm

    You know what, these days when people discuss about international cinema, I contribute my two cents by the movies I find here ! 😀 😀 😀 Keep em coming Kanagu ! 😀

    kanagu: Thanks bro 🙂 🙂

  5. August 19, 2010 12:43 am

    I dont know from where you dig up these movies!! 🙂

    kanagu: I used to read a lot about movies 🙂 🙂

    Btw…somewhere the concept of this movie seemed to remind me of ‘The Perfect Storm’…dunno why

    kanagu: ha ha ha.. both movies were directed by same director 😀 😀

  6. August 19, 2010 1:22 am

    More than any thing the direction here is of real top notch. Other wise, one could easily be bored these days with all that old technology. He covers it up brilliantly. This is easily his best work, I think.

    Later he made movies like Posedion, Air Force One, Troy and Perfect Storm (Featuring George Clooney and Mark Wah…). Except for Perfect Storm, others are just average.

    kanagu: True.. the direction and script were strong in this movie.. I am yet o watch his other movies…

    Similar movies involving Submarines are K-19: widow maker and Crimson Tide.

    kanagu: I am yet to watch K-19.. have to see soon…

    K-19 especially reveals how at times, super powers are desperate to out smart each other and actually it is about survival. Though the direction is not great like it is in Das Boot, but the way communists force their will on armed forces is really touching.

    While K-19 is based on real events I am not sure about Crimson Tide. But it is a good movie.

    I think people who support India having Nuclear submarines with armed missiles should watch Crimson Tide.

    Though I am not sure if any movie is made on Cuban crisis, but humanity in this world came very close to extinction during this crisis.

    I read so much on this crisis and actually research was done on this. Now it reveals it self that contrary to so called popular belief of Kennedy handling it with great courage, actually he allowed the whole situation to precipitate.

    kanagu: Even though I have read about Cuban revolution./.. I am yet to read about cuba in 1960s… have to.. thanks for the info Sri 🙂 🙂

    Similarly, it is now known that US removed all its nuclear missiles from Turkey in the bargain for USSR removing missiles from Cuba. Earlier most people felt USA never made any concession and it is like a victory.

    While Soviet leader ship was actually searching for a face saving way. Finally, secretly they reach a truce.

    kanagu: 🙂 🙂 Again thanks for the info Sri 🙂 🙂

    Some said nuclear holocaust was minutes away during this crisis.

  7. August 19, 2010 8:51 pm


    “Das Boot” … i read it as ‘Dus Booth’ … and was waiting for the part when the soldiers turn into ghosts … you know ….

    kanagu: lol!!!! 🙂 🙂

    dont know if i’ll watch the movie .. coz right now, all i want to do is watch telugu and tamil movies.

    kanagu: Cool.. hope you enjoy them deepa 🙂 🙂

  8. August 21, 2010 12:44 am

    I havent seen this movie. But a similar story /movie was showing on WB a couplea weeks ago- equally riveting! Very very similar screenplays. Completely vibed with this post:)

    kanagu: Thanks Mee… there are many war movies on the similar lines, I guess.. 🙂

  9. August 21, 2010 10:00 am

    Hi Kanagu…how u doing ???? 🙂

    kanagu: I am fine.. you r busy na.. 🙂 :)how the shopping is going on??

    No time to read the whole review…so just marking my presence here… 🙂

    kanagu: Thanks for making a visit while u r busy 🙂 🙂

    But I love the way you watch a movie and analyse it. Keep going. BTW, how was vamsam ???

    kanagu: thank you.. 🙂 🙂 its kinda ok..

  10. August 27, 2010 3:11 am

    You write really good reviews! I loved it!

    kanagu: Welcome here Anu.. thank you 🙂 🙂

    This is a wonderful movie…yes…and I remember being forced to watch this movie during one of my early German classes….I hated it at the first, coz it was full German with no subtitles :((((
    Then,I went back home, saw them with English subtitles “ON”…and loved it!

    kanagu: Its a damn good movie.. 🙂 🙂 So much tension in it…

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