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Das Boot

August 25, 2010

Das Boot (1981)
Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Actors: Jurgen Prochnow, Herbert Gronemeyer, Klaus Wenneman

Synopsis: Life on board a German WW2 U-boat.

Review: Das Boot rises above its generic confines to become something memorable, helped by proficient direction (the submarine set is a brilliant design) and generous acting from the ensemble cast. You could predict the likely elements before having seen the film: the stock characterisations (an iron-willed captain, an outsider journalist, a jittery engineer), successful sinking of enemy boats, a near collision with a fellow U-boat, and frantic contingency measures as the submarine is moored at the bottom of the ocean. That the movie encompasses all these tropes, yet still manages to suspend the audience’s disbelief is probably its main asset, and equally well-judged is the pitch-perfect sombre/ironic ending when the returning heroes get the welcome they were least expecting from allied fighter planes. (March 2007)

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