Das Boot

War | In German with English subtitles | 149 minutes | 1981

In 1942, during World War II, Hitler launched his submarines (U-boats) in the Atlantic with the mission to destroy English merchant shipping and  starve the English people. And thus began what is known as the “The Battle of the Atlantic.” However, in time, Britain and the U.S. were able to destroy many of the submarines by protecting merchant ships with destroyer escorts, using breakthrough radar technology, and dropping   depth charges when submarines were spotted. The film shows how the crew maintained their professionalism as they painfully tried to understand and obey Hitler’s orders. It’s a searing depiction of their harrowing, claustrophobic lives.The submarine, with its exhausted crew, finally reach their home base in France when Allied planes attack, killing many of the crew. The captain, mortally wounded, surveys the destruction of his submarine, his home for many years.
Jurgen Prochnow (The Captain), Herbert Gronemeyer (Leutnant Werner), Klaus Wennemann (Chief Engineer)
Why Stream This Film?
I echo the oft-heard statement that this is considered “one of the greatest of all war films.”
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus) 98% 98%
  • Metacritic Score 86% 86%
  • Academy Awards: Nominated, Best Director (Wolfgang Petersen), Best Adapted Screenplay (Wolfgang Petersen).
  • National Board of Review: Nominated, Best Foreign Film.

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Its attitude toward war is distinctly critical, which must account for some share of the film’s popularity. But so do the quiet compassion and precise detail with which its story has been told. Director Wolfgang Petersen brings to this film a careful, thoughtful, sympathetic tone, and a great deal of verisimilitude. Petersen pays great attention to the sights, sounds, and smells that characterize the U-boat, in which several dozen men are confined. His direction powerfully fosters the impression that you, too, are there.
Janet Maslin

The New York Times

DAS BOOT is not only about claustrophobia because the crew members have come to terms with that. It is about the desperate, dangerous and exacting job of manning a submarine. In a way we can focus on that better because it is a German submarine. If it were an American sub, we would assume the film ends in victory, identify with the crew, and cheer them on. By making it a German boat, the filmmakers neatly remove the patriotic element and increase the suspense. We identify not with the mission, but with the job. Wolfgang Petersen’s direction is an exercise in pure craftsmanship. The film is constructed mostly out of closeups and cramped two-and-three shots. And the sound adds another dimension.
Roger Ebert


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