Friday, December 09, 2011

130 - Das Boot (1981)

DVD Box
Das Boot follows the journey of a German U-boat for a few months in the middle of the Second World War.

Despite a strong start to the war the tide has turned on the infamous German submarines as the Allies develop tactics to deal with the U-boats in the Atlantic.

One such submarine is led by Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock and his crew of young men. Also on board is a correspondent who is there to gather material to add to the Nazi propaganda machine.

They soon find out that living in cramped conditions under constant threat from drowning is far less glamorous than the honour it was thought to bring.

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
The Second World War is certainly a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the main subject for a film. Much of British film throughout the second half of the Twentieth Century featured slaps on the backs of colleagues and a lot of pip pipping at those under left-wing influence.

Interestingly you would expect much the same from German film, but Das Boot proves otherwise. It shows that life in the horribly under-documented U-boats wasn't fun. The cramped conditions were stifling without even taking into account that a few metres above were ships that wanted nothing more than to drop depth charges through the roof.

Sure, Das Boot borders on the repetitive. Submarine goes up, submarine goes down. Repeat. But that is the point. There was nothing glamorous about the U-boats, and very little to do except bob around the Atlantic looking for a fight. The three hour-plus runtime doesn't encourage any potential audience, either.

That said though, Wolfgang Peterson more than makes up for it by keeping his film interesting throughout, aided wonderfully by some well controlled acting by his cast. Even the English dubbing doesn't detract from the use of language which helps to amplify the sailors' predicaments.

A fantastic film, well worth the three hours and definitely nears the top of any list of best war films.

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