Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Screenplay: Wolfgang Petersen
Cast: Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Grönemeyer and Klaus Wennemann
(Note: This review is solely based on the director’s cut. I do not know the difference of quality between this version and the original)
Director Wolfgang Petersen makes his name as a skillful director with his suspenseful, tension-rife and powerful war movie Das Boot (The Boot in English) based on the 1973 novel Das Boot. Wolfgang Petersen would then direct various American movies such as “In the Line of Fire” and “Air Force One”.
Set in World War II, 1941, the German High Command are sending younger and more inexperienced men to operate the German U-boats in a desperate attempt to win a loosing naval battle in the Atlantic. Das Boot follows one specific crew as the attempt to follow their orders and carry out incredibly difficult tasks and orders under persistent danger.
Das Boot draws a lot of it’s quality and uniqueness from the fact that it is a war film told solely from a German perspective and the dialogue is completely in German. This is a welcome change from seeing World War II from a Western perspective consistently in film and television, giving the audience a new look on the war. Das Boot’s main strength is it’s ability to create and prolong extreme tension thanks to the talents of Wolfgang and the cast. The tension rarely dissipates and it’s the crew’s reactions to immediate danger of a British destroyer that immerses the audience and makes them experience the tension. The dead silence in the claustrophobic U-boat, the terrified facial expressions of the new recruits and the anxious shifts in the eyes all add to the tension. Watching the diversity of the crew is also interesting. Wolfgang showcases the idealistic Germans who have blind loyalty and faith in their leader and Germany’s victory. Wollgang also displays how some of the crew are doubtful of victory and do not wish to underestimate their enemy. At it’s core Das Boot reminds the audience that that the Germans were not hugely different from their Western counter-parts. They were only following orders and hoping to return to their homes and family.
Das Boot is not a standard war film. This is a war film not driven by action or a sense of the good fighting evil, but soliders fighting for survival in a constant life or death scenario.