on 23 August 2000
'Das Boot', Wolfgang Petersen's stunning evocation of the tensions and miseries suffered by a German U-Boat crew during the 'Battle Of The Atlantic' in WWII, is rightly regarded as one of the most important German films of the last 25 years. It is significant that the film's influence has reached a worldwide audience since its premier in 1981; for it is a story about the absurdity of war, and that particular truth transcends all national boundaries. It is simply one of best war films ever made.
The production of 'Das Boot' on DVD is a fascinating tale in itself. The Director's commentary, in which Jurgen Procknow (who played the Captain) particpates, presents an interesting, and often amusing, insight into the production of a film that really launched the careers of many of those that were invloved. Of particular note is the filmakers' impromptu discussion on the reaction the film received in Germany when it was first shown. There were at the time certain conventions that needed to be observed in German cinema when dealing with the subject of WWII. 'Das Boot' did to some extent challenge these and this led to quite a disparity between the German public's reaction and those of the critics.
Technically the DVD production is superb. It seems that Wolfgang Petersen is certainly an enthuiast for the new digital medium. He and his team have re-cut the film, using the original negative as the source, to produce a 'film' version that Petersen appears to be very content with. The result is a 3-hour experience of superb visual quality. However, it does not end there. The entire sound track has been re-engineered for Dolby Digital 5.1 - and an English dubbed Dolby Surround mix is included as well. Only the original dialogue track and some music stems were retained. The effects, the music, and even the English language dub tracks have been re-recorded digitally for the DVD version. In many cases the dubbing was undertaken by the original cast. The sound mix and production are superb. The effect is to add a whole new dimension to the experience of 'Das Boot'.
The conclusion is that 'Das Boot' on DVD is a compelling advert for the medium itself, and really does highlight the medium's potentialities in both the technical and artistic areas.
If there is such a thing as a DVD 'Classic' yet then 'Das Boot' is a good candidate for the appellation.
on 28 November 2011
I've loved Das Boot since I first saw it as a 6-part television special back in the 1980's. Then I had the movie on VHS tape until it wore out, before owning it on DVD as the TV cut, then the Director's Cut and finally the 6-part complete miniseries on DVD.
I was somewhat disappointed by the sound and picture quality of the DVD transfers (I never saw the superbit version). My main issue was that the sound never seemed to have the ooomph I'd hoped for.
Reading all of the positive reviews about this latest Blu-ray transfer I was encouraged. They praised the picture and sound quality. For the cheaper price of the UK version, where the original theatrical cut isn't included (meaning they can use a BD25 for the second disc) I figured - why not give it a try?
Well, my concerns were allayed. This is an excellent transfer. The picture is crisp - the best I've seen of this film by far, and the soundmix (German/English 5.1 DTS-MA) is fantastic. The dialogue is clear for the most part, and the explosions and depth charges actually boom with convincing resonance. The waves also sound appropriately thunderous during the storms. Best of all are the creaks and groans of the hull, which VERY effectively makes it feel like you're actually in the U96 with the crew. I haven't come across such an immersive soundscape before in a film.
For those of you still on the fence - take it from someone who has watched all versions of this great film: you won't regret adding this release to your collection. Highly recommended both as a film (first and foremost) and as an AV experience.
on 18 September 2011
Das Boot (The Boat) is an uncompromising examination of life aboard a German submarine at the height of World War II.
It started life in 1981 as a 145-minute theatrical release and was later expanded into a a six-hour miniseries for German television, broadcast in 1985. Twelve years on, writer-director Wolfgang Petersen finally realised his vision of the project by adding a significant amount of material to the former to create his director's cut. This is the version presented on this Blu-ray and it runs for 206 minutes.
This is a story of how the hunters become the hunted, patrolling the Atlantic on the lookout for allied shipping while attempting to evade the warships that are out to detect and destroy them.
Petersen lulls the viewer into a false sense of stillness aboard the titular vessel. It serves to illustrate the tiring, claustrophobic conditions and how the 48-strong crew coped with them. However, when the action happens, it occurs thunderously and without warning. The film is punctuated with suspenseful sequences.
The picture on this Blu-ray is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and is clean and colourful with some grain, which is accentuated in certain night-time scenes. The soundtrack (in DTS-HD 5.1) has been masterfully reconstructed for the director's cut and definitely punches its weight in stormy seas or when depth charges impact. It pays not to have your amp turned up too loud because such moments can take you by surprise.
Das Boot can be played in its original German language version with subtitles or with dubbed English dialogue. There are ample bonus features on disc two, including documentaries (archival, historical and retrospective), an informative tour of the boat and a look at how the movie progressed through its various editions. On disc one there is an English commentary by Wolfgang Petersen and Jürgen Prochnow, who plays the captain.
By depicting its subject matter from the German perspective, Das Boot serves as an ideal flipside to The Cruel Sea, which - although released some 30 years earlier - shows what they were up against.
on 10 July 2000
This has to be one of the most incredible war films made. This film shows you the full extent of the horror of the second world war and with it an unforgettable ending buy this film now. The DVD is both in the orriginal German and English but to get the full flavour you should watch it in German with the English subtitles You may find it a bit on the long side but I can tell you that there is no wasted minute in this film
on 29 September 2003
This is a stunning film - a war film made by Germans about Germans. The characters are so absorbing that you really feel for them. Amazing to think that you could be rooting for the "scourge of the Atlantic", but I found that I was. I was willing the Royal Navy to sail on past and fail in their attempts to depth charge U-96 to oblivion.
The actors play the roles superbly. We see the crew run through the full gambit of emotions; from their light hearted frolicking on their last "run ashore" where they get paralytically drunk, to the boredom of routine on board a cramped and smelly submarine, to the thill of the kill and the deep terror of being in a damaged vessel that is being depth charged.
The wide eyed, fresh young Nazi on board does not understand the attitudes of the crew, their patiotic but not Nazi views, their somewhat slovenly ways. But he is forced to re-evaluate his own beliefs after a few weeks of boredom, stress, limited hygene facilities, deteriorating food, "hot-bunking", close & claustophobic life, when boils have started to appear on the unshaven faces of the grimey, sweaty crew. Mixed with the fear of death and a strange fatalism, this is not the glorious fighting machine he was expecting.
The star of the film is definitely Jurgen Pruchnow who plays the calm and very capable Captain, utterly determined to carry out his mission, yet not sympathetic to Nazism. You feel that no one else could have got the boat back to La Rochelle.
The film can be watched in German with or without English subtitles or in dubbed English. The dubbed English is very well done, using some of the actors own voice overs, but I prefer to watch it in German with subtitles as this seems to enhance the atmosphere.
There are no glorious heroes, no moral righteousness and definitely no winners. This is a gritty view on a horrible bit of history.
on 2 August 2002
"It's not about Germans or Americans or British, it's just about people" - Director Wolfgang Peterson. Das Boot is not a war film. It is a study of men under pressure who really believe they're going to die. It just happens to take place during WWII. The ground-breaking cinematography and excellent performances from all the lead actors make this a stunning film. The re-recorded Dolby 5.1 soundtrack is the best (by a long way) I've ever heard on DVD. Watch this film in the dark, on a large TV with surround speakers - it's quite magnificent. The whole package is so good that it stands many repeat viewings without losing any of its impact. We all know that 99% of Commentaries are absolutely dire and only listened to once, but the Commentary on Das Boot is exceptional. Das Boot is a film masterpiece and a fine advert for the DVD medium which should be in every serious film buff's collection.
In my lifetime, I've seen a number of truly great war films: "Saving Private Ryan", "The Longest Day", "Patton", "Run Silent, Run Deep", "Bridge On the River Kwai", "Glory", "A Bridge Too Far". Preeminent among them, even above "Saving Private Ryan", is "Das Boot (The Boat)", the extraordinary tale of a German U-boat's sortie into the Atlantic during World War II. What makes the film phenomenal is the way in which life in combat undersea is recreated: cramped, smelly, damp, uncomfortable, decidedly dangerous. Especially effective is the apparently accurate reconstruction of a U-boat's interior that serves as the set. When the Kapitän orders a crash dive, and the crew members rush forward to the boat's bow to increase the dive angle, the cameraman follows behind as they run the length of the sub through small hatchways and narrow crew spaces. It's a miracle the cameraman didn't crack his head, or the lens of his hand-held camera, on the sill of a hatch. (Maybe he did!)
Though this is a German crew whose duty is to sink Allied ships, American viewers will have no problem sympathizing with its members when the depth charges begin to fall. Early on, the almost anti-Nazi attitude of the U-boat's Offiziers is apparent. (This may have been a marketing ploy by the film's producers to increase worldwide appeal. However, of all the German military services during WWII, the Kriegsmarine is considered to have been the least Nazified.) In any case, when the sub is ordered to surreptitiously rendezvous with a cargo ship that was intentionally interned in a neutral port for the purpose of U-boat supply and replenishment, the more politically correct officers of the supply vessel invite the U-boat's officers aboard to partake of a lavish buffet. As the former "Sieg Heil!" and exclaim how tough war is, the latter's' disdain for their Kameraden is readily apparent.
The nightmare of undersea warfare is grippingly portrayed. After a very narrow escape for our heroes, we cheer when the sub limps back to port near the end of the movie. This relief soon turns to sorrow and horror at the film's ironic conclusion.
There is no female lead in this production, no romantic interludes, and nothing to soften the hard, gritty reality of men at war. It's definitely a Guy Flick, but none the less excellent for being such. It's most assuredly one of my All-Time Ten Best movies.
on 27 January 2005
This DVD is magnificent. Sound quality is very good, image quality is outstanding. The different colors are rendered much better than the original video release. This DVD is not produced from some old print, apparently they went back to the original negatives, and you can see that.
You get both the original soundtrack (Dolby and DTS) in German, and the overdub in English. The overdub was produced by the original actors and definitely it is good. The sound quality of the DTS mix is outstanding, they spent a substantial effort to restore the sound. This will test your subwoofer.
The only other release of interest is the one with the original TV mini series. It is more extensive, but this newer director's cut outperforms it by a substantial margin in both audio & video quality.
This is as good as a DVD can possibly get.
During the middle stages of 'World War 11' the Germans had tried to stem the flow of supply's to the British shores with their
fleet of 'U-Boats' the allies had after early mistakes taken measures to protect the convoys by having them escorted by
Battleships, the German U-Boats beginning to suffer increasing losses.
This film tells of the crew of U-96 Captained by 'Captain-Lieutenant Henrich Lehmann-Willenbrock - Der Alte' with his relatively
young crew, they are sent on a top-secret mission to destroy an Allied-Armada in the waters of the Atlantic, a mission that few
expected to return from.
Now at sea they search for their target watchful of the sky when surfaced, en-route the crew practice emergency drill, though
reality will be a very different proposition.
Tension mounts as the young crew anticipate their first action, which comes when the periscope is spotted by an Allied destroyer,
they come under attack from the depths-charges despatched by the destroyer, now the game of cat and mouse begins, for many
on-board this is their first experience of action.
Surviving their first encounter with the enemy the search for a target continues, they have yet to fire a torpedo at an enemy vessel.
At first they believe that the Armada they'd been sent to attack had eluded them, however they do find it, at first it seems to be a risk
free chance to attack, however a destroyer have spotted them....
We continue to follow the fortunes of the crew of U-96 as they try to survive the trauma's of what is yet to come...........
The film was nominated for 6 Academy Awards however 'Raging Bull' and 'Ordinary People' became the major winners........
There are many tense moments as the film progresses, aboard the U-96 viewers become drawn to the characters among it's crew, overall
Director 'Wolfgang Petersen' captures the atmosphere of the crews emotions, their fears, their frustration, panic, and tension of a crew
locked in the underwater predator.
The human side of the crew also demonstrated as they watch fellow sailors perish, it gives them little satisfaction seeing this aspect, but
that is the job they have to do.
This is a gripping and absorbing watch, that will have you on the edge of your seat as the tension builds...
The film (director's cut) can be watched with either one of three language choices - German English French (with a choice of sub-titles)
The picture and sound quality is really pretty good, well worth upgrading to Blu-ray.
Special Features -
* Wolfgang Petersen - Back to the Boat - Documentary
* Going Deeper - Maria's Take, The perfect Boat, Directors-Cut
* Captains Tour - Inside the Boat
* The Battle of the Atlantic (1983)
* Behind the Scenes (`1981)
* Commentary with Director Wolfgang Petersen
on 10 March 2002
Anyone with a DVD and 5.1 Dolby is missing the point if they don't have this DVD. With depth charges exploding all round and water roaring into your lounge it's a DVD you've got to have. Although my German speaking is practically zero, I find that some of the ambience of the film, is lost if you choose to listen to the dubbed version - I prefer the subtitled version; how many films can you say that about ?
A brilliant DVD - exactly how it should be done.