Das Boot (1981)


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Rated: PG

Released: 17 September 1981 (West Germany)

Runtime: 149 Min

Taglines: When the hunters become the hunted.

Genres: Adventure | Drama | Thriller | War

Director: Wolfgang Petersen

Writers: Wolfgang Petersen  (Screenplay), Lothar G. Buchheim  (Novel)

Actors: Jürgen Prochnow , Herbert Grönemeyer , Klaus Wennemann

Country: West Germany

Language: German, English, French

The claustrophobic world of a WWII German U-boat; boredom, filth and sheer terror.


It is 1942 and the German submarine fleet is heavily engaged in the so-called “Battle of the Atlantic” to harass and destroy British shipping. With better escorts of the destroyer class, however, German U-boats have begun to take heavy losses. “Das Boot” is the story of the crew of one such U-Boat, with the film examining how these submariners maintained their professionalism as soldiers and attempted to accomplish impossible missions, all the while attempting to understand and obey the ideology of the government under which they served.

A look at the lives of the officers and men of the U-96, a German U-boat patrolling the north Atlantic during World War II. Led by Capt.-Lt. Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock, the men, for the most part, are seasoned veterans of undersea duty. For the new recruits, including military journalist Lt. Werner, it’s all a bit of an eye opener. The quarters are cramped with men sharing bunks – while one is on duty, the other gets sleep – and there’s barely enough room for more that two men in passageways at any one time. Their trip is also marked by lengthy periods of boredom while they search for enemy shipping to attack and periods of absolute terror when they find themselves under attack by Allied naval vessels. Throughout it all, the men band together, cynical about just what they are doing but also proud of their accomplishments.

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