Das Boot – Director’s cut –  – German
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.