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At the height of WWII, a young submarine crew heads out to sea on a top-secret mission that all but ensures most will never make it home alive. Ordered to patrol the Atlantic and destroy an allied armada bringing supplies to Britain, these raw recruits must band together, bracing themselves against a depth-charge assault from an unseen enemy. Oscar ® - nominated director Wolfgang Petersen’s epic adventure deftly explores tension as pressure builds to an explosive climax, packing a visceral punch few movies can match.
Wolfgang Petersen's harrowing and claustrophobic U-boat thriller Das Boot was released as both a theatrical film and a six-hour mini-series, and remains the most expensive production ever made by a German studio. The expanded "Director's Cut" of the movie was re-released 1997 and it is this version that is available for home viewing. This epic story became an instant classic on its first release, provoking critical and audience acclaim worldwide for its sympathetic and entirely truthful portrayal of a German U-boat crew. Faithfully adapted from the bestselling novel by Lothar-Günther Buchheim, Petersen and his committed cast (led by the amazing Jürgen Prochnow) were concerned to ensure that every detail was rendered with painstaking accuracy--both physical and psychological--and the result is not only the best submarine drama ever made but also arguably the finest cinematic portrait of men at war and the terrible madness they must endure.
On the DVD: The 200-minute "Director's Cut" version of the movie not only has several major scenes restored that were not in the theatrical release but also has been digitally remastered with significantly improved sound (new sound effects have been added) and anamorphic picture. (The six-hour TV version has yet to be released.) Here, the viewer can watch the movie in the original German, with or without subtitles, or in an English dubbed version that uses the voices of many of the original cast. On the utterly engrossing commentary track, director Wolfgang Petersen and star Jürgen Prochnow talk animatedly and in great detail about every aspect of making this epic story--from model shots using Barbie dolls to meeting the Captain of the original U-boat. This is one of the most consistently rewarding commentaries on disc. Also included is a five-minute featurette that promotes this new version. --Mark Walker
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...The film was initially released in cinemas in 1981 in West Germany & other countries over the next 2 years- Running time approx 150mins. It was well received (with 6 Oscar nominations -though not winning any).
After a growing reputation, in 85-86 a near 5 hour version was released as a TV mini-series to great acclaim in various countries & won an Emmy award for Drama. A 140min edited version was released on VHS.
In 1996 it was reissued in cinemas . With footage added to the original ('81) cinema release, Its running time now around 200 mins- This version was called the 'Directors Cut' with improved image & upgraded sound, this again was a success & was released on VHS & laserdisc then in the late 90s on DVD .This is the 'Standard Version' still released on DVD( & bluray), normally with English & German language options with 5.1 + 'Dolby surround' audio, with subtitles in various languages(depending on which region it is being released in).This edition is usually issued with a blue cover.
And If you don't like 'foreign language subtitled films' the English dubbed version is quite acceptable (with many of the main German actors doing their own translated English voices). Most of these copies have a very entertaining & informative commentary (originally recorded for laserdisc) with director Wolfgang Peterson,lead actor Jurgen Prochnow & the producer of the 'directors cut' + a brief 'making of' feature & English trailer.
Also available -the full '5 hour TV version' from the mid 80s(this also has upgraded sound). It was Released on 2 discs in 2004. (this normally has a green cover) & also comes with German & English language choices but didn't have the audio commentary. The film ratio on both versions is 'widescreen' 1:1.85 for a 'standard' 16-9 TV size.
A copy I recently purchased is a 2 disc 'Superbit' edition that claims to utilise a "special high bit rate digital transfer process". This is the '200min version' & has English in surround /Dolby digital & German language in 5.1 & DTS choices. The film has subtitles in English ,Dutch & Hindi . The image is very good,& appears to have repaired the blemishes & scratches noticeable-especially near the beginning on the 1 disc edition ,but I haven't seen it on a larger screen to fully compare it with previous versions.This doesn't have the commentary though.
So despite a seemingly baffling amount of releases available, the choice basically comes down to the full '5 hour' released for TV mini-series or the 200min 'Directors Cut' & I don't really need to tell you both are excellent viewing experiences (see some of the many other reviews) & easily available at very good prices..
.....For those with bluray players the 'Directors Cut'-'200 min' version is available on a 1disc version with commentary ,a documentary(40mins)about the 'Battle of the Atlantic'+ an hour long look at the U96 submarine .There is also a 2disc bluray(2011) that has these extras & more...The 'TV series-5 hour' version is also available on bluray, but I don't know what extras may be on this release....
It tells the story of a German U Boat's crew during World War Two.
The original was in German, but this has options for English too. It also has the option for sub titles so, you can choose to have the original German language but with English subtitles.
It is a very dramatic film and shows a picture of war with out the Hollywood glitz and Americanisation.
It is a long film at three and a half hours, but it flies by.
A surprising ending too. Well worth a watch.
It is above all a humanist drama, though, focusing on these men, none of whom are meant to be much over thirty. They become almost like friends to the viewer - not that it is possible to imagine being able to withstand what they go through: the captain, played by the amazing Jurgen Prochnov, who conveys tremendous reserves of strength behind his war-weary cynicism; the main character, a reporter called Werner who is somewhat naive to start with, the chief engineer, three 'watch officers', a navigator, and a number of other named characters: Hinrich, Pilgrim, Johann, Frennsen ... and a young cadet called Ullmann, very perturbed because he has left behind a French girl whom he got pregnant, who doesn't want an abortion. We become involved in their lives, and see how they think about what they do and relate to each other. Unsurprisingly, there is little time for discussion or politics. You get the impression they don't see far beyond the testing situation they are in, the desire to survive and get back home in one piece. When they attack a ship, it is regarded as a strategic undertaking. It is striking how likeable they nearly all are - only one officer is a Nazi who is motivated by ideology; the rest are just doing a job, and rather scornful of him, most likely. The film shows how ordinary people are victims of the fighting and are forced to play out these dreadful scenes of brutality, almost unthinkingly. By the end, the sense of tragedy is very strong. Wolfgang Petersen directs with great feeling for his characters, while not attempting to analyse the politics of what was going on behind the scenes, so that it really is the War seen through a submariner's eyes. He had previously directed Jurgen Prochnov in another outstanding film that is much less well-known, Die Konsequenz (1977), about an actor who has a relationship with a gay teenager for which both are severely condemned in the Switzerland of the 1970s. It was a film of great emotional power and empathy, as is this one, which is painted on a bigger canvas. I haven't seen any of his later American work, but on the evidence of these two films alone he deserves to be regarded as a filmmaker to stand with the best of the German New Wave.