Das Boot (1981)


Anyone who thinks spending three-and-a-half hours trapped in a dark room might be a tough call, should be made to watch Das Boot – and count themselves lucky.


Language: German

Director: Wolfgang Petersen

Writer: Wolfgang Petersen (screenplay), Lothar G. Buchheim (novel)

Cast :   Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Grönemeyer, Klaus Wennemann 

Genre:  Adventure | Drama | Thriller | War

IMDb: Das Boot (1981)

Also Known As: The Boat

Streaming on Netflix.                               

Anyone who thinks spending three-and-a-half hours trapped in a dark room might be a tough call, should be made to watch Das Boot – and count themselves lucky. Lucky on two counts as it happens: first, that they never had to set to sea in a submarine during wartime; and second, that they’ve just seen the most awesome war movie ever made.

And yet Das Boot also carries a poignant anti-war message as you live and breathe with the crew of U-96 on one incredible voyage in 1941. When released in 1982, it became the most successful foreign movie ever in the US and was nominated for six Oscars. This colour-rich reprinted version, complete with restored footage and re-designed digital sound is, simply, even better.

It is impossible to watch without empathising with the men on board, learning which of them sleeps or works behind each bulkhead. Most of them, long for the taste of sea air and spray only the privileged few (of officers and audience) get after climbing the coning tower to scan the horizon. Such is the sense of documentary realism, that it becomes almost impossible to believe any of the cast ever left the set.

Petersen (who went on to direct In The Line Of Fire and Air Force One) has overseen this restoration and as stunning as the visuals are, most critical in this is the sound. Listen (because your life depends on it) for overhead enemies dropping depth charges, hold your breath (because it may be your last) as each silent running takes you to excruciating depths. And for God’s sake, duck when the pressure of a metre too far causes the already straining hull to give up its rivets in nerve-shredding explosions of surround sound. We’ve all seen war and submarine films before but we’ve never seen anything like Das Boot.

Shot with absolute perfection, this film depicts the claustrophobia and chaos inside the tightly packed submarine. Rarely has boredom been portrayed so rivetingly-with sequences of nerve shaking tensions. While it is portraying humanity behind the German war efforts, Das Boot displays the BLOODY BRILLIANCE of a war movie.

Verdict: 7/7 Stars.

Bloody Brilliant.


The cast was deliberately kept indoors continually during the shooting period in order to look as pale as a real submarine crew would on a mission at sea.

To help his actors convey the claustrophobic conditions found on a real U-boat, director Wolfgang Petersen insisted on filming within the actual confines of the ship (scarcely wider than a man’s outstretched arms), rather than removing the model’s outer wall.

The movie was shot silent (because of exaggerated camera noise in the submarine interiors) and all German and English dialogue had to be looped.

The bulk of the film’s $15 million budget was spent on constructing U-boats. 

The submarine models built for Das Boot were also the ones used in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).

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Adhil Ameen

Hailing from Kozhikode, Adhil Ameen loves to kill time with Movies. He also loves Fishing and Travelling. A night owl well qualified to review movies. You can connect with Adhil on Instagram: @adhil_ameen_koya.

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