“Das Boot” is a movie that I’ve heard a lot about over the years and is a movie that I’ve seen on a ton of “best of” lists. It had always sort of irked me that I’d never actually seen this movie, which is why I put it on my “bucket list” several years ago. Last Thursday, I’m happy to report, I finally took the time to watch this movie from start to finish, and I can now see why it’s so well regarded.
For those of you unfamiliar with “Das Boot,” it’s a German war movie set in World War II that was first released in theatres on Sept. 17, 1981. Directed by Wolfgang Peterson, the cast included Jurgen Prochnow, Herbert Gronemeyer, Klaus Wennemann, Hubertus Bengsch and Martin Semmelrogge. If you’ve never seen this movie be prepared. It’s long with a run time of over 2-1/2 hours.
The plot of the movie is relatively simple, but that’s not to say that it isn’t high quality and riveting. “Das Boot” is about the crew of a German submarine, called a U-boat, during World War II. Even though they’re fighting against the Allies, you come to sympathize with the Germans as they hunt their enemies and avoid destruction all the while dealing with shoddy equipment and a host of other problems. This movie is full of suspense, and I actually found myself rooting for the Germans more than once.
The version I watched was the Directors Cut version of the movie, which is significantly longer than the theatrical release. The version first released in theaters was two hours and 29 minutes long. The Directors Cut version is three hours and 29 minutes long. Courtesy of NetFlix, I watched the entire thing from start to finish and thoroughly enjoyed it. When it comes to submarine movies, I’d ranked “Das Boot” right up with such greats as “The Hunt for Red October,” “Crimson Tide” and “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”
As mentioned, you will find “Das Boot” on a lot of “best of” lists. My interest in this movie really ramped up when one of my favorite Web sites, The Art of Manliness, included “Das Boot” on a list they called “The Essential Men’s Movie Library.” That “best of” list came to my attention in 2011, and not long after that, I added “Das Boot” to my official “bucket list.”
While researching this article, I was interested to learn that “Das Boot” was based on an internationally best-selling novel called “Das Boot: The Boat” by Lothar-Günther Buchheim. Not surprisingly, you’ll also find this novel on more than a few “best of” lists. Most notably, you’ll see it ranked No. 7 on a list called “101 Crackerjack Sea Books” that was compiled by writer Dean King for Bookmarks Magazine in 2006.
In the end, how many of you have seen “Das Boot”? What did you think about it? How many of you have read Buchheim’s original novel? What did you think about it? Let us know in the comments section below.