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Das Boot (Director's Cut) [DVD] 
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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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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.
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.
 This film is in my view simply too light on technology: how did they know where they were? How did they get radio messages? How often did they need to surface? How did the engines work? These boats were technogically advanced. The result is a kind of schoolboyish gee-whiz, lacking technical backbone.
 It is low budget: there's no view of how the high command saw things, what was happening, what they thought they were doing. Fair enough in a film, and no doubt how wars are perceived by most of those involved, but a bit restricting. Views from outside often have a buckets-of-water-thrown-over-the-actors feel.
 Maybe a new genre will arise, involving new scripts and voiceovers, as a sort of samizdat film. The sort of thing I mean is comments on Churchill having declared war on Germany, which many people in the west don't seem to know. And France having declared war at the same time. They might sing, instead of 'It's a Long Way to Tipperary', one of the songs by (say) Charlie and his Orchestra - 'The Man with the Big Cigar' perhaps? Maybe something on mass murder by Jews in the USSR, and their fears about Stalin invading Europe. Or perhaps bombing of Germany and France, with some detail of 'Bomber Harris' and his actions against civilians. Or perhaps stories of how America was inveigled into war. Or accounts from WW1 of naval blockades causing starvation in Germany, probably of some interest to the crew. Or maybe accounts of Poland and the varying borders with Germany. Plenty of possibilities - intelligent students of film might try their own voiceovers and/or subtitles!
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