613 of 628 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2004
This review will attempt to assist those who already own the Director's Cut (or Superbit version), but who are thinking about also buying the newer "Original Uncut Version" (293 minutes on 2 DVDs).
The first thing you should know is that the English dub has been largely redone; if you are familiar with the Director's Cut dialogue, you will immediately notice that the English dub's script has been changed in many places within the Uncut Version. In particular, the saltier comments throughout the movie have been deleted and replaced with much more 'polite' translations. Moreover several of the characters (Werner the war correspondent, Kriechbaum the Navigator, the boat's second-in-command [whom is referred to as "Number One"], as well as the comical red-haired Second Officer, etc.) have received new voices in the English dub (if only in select places), and their scripts have been changed in numerous instances as well. I raise this as a concern because I realize diehard fans may find these (sometimes unnecessary) dialogue changes irritating. This is the main flaw of this edition, in my opinion.
While the Uncut Version soundtrack includes new sound effects, and adds frequent narration in old footages areas (largely excerpts from Werner's diary), short pieces of the new footage have not been remastered and look very grainy. Most of the new footage is however seamless and not of unacceptable quality (contra another reviewer). The sections that have been neglected are mainly external shots of the uboat -- in one such instance an obvious blue line spans the vertical width of the screen for about 20-30 seconds.
The new footage that appears in the Uncut Version is not simply superfluous addition either, but in a few instances actually clarifies or adds completely new elements to the Director's Cut storyline (I won't ruin that for you, suffice to say that some very interesting plot elements are introduced in this newer edition). This cut is also much more pointed in depicting the stress, paranoia, poor morale, and sheer boredom of the crew, who are shown praying, making mistakes, complaining, and doing many stupid things just to pass the time and ease the strain of being a submariner. Of interest is the enthusiasm that the crew eventually displays at the prospect of going into battle: not because that is what they have trained to do, but because anything is preferable to the endless waiting and resulting apathy between enemy contacts. Numerous conversations between various characters have been added, and minor characters that didn't make it into the Director's Edition appear in the Uncut Version. A few treats exist as well, such as a shot where the Second Officer can be more clearly seen using a Kreigsmarine four-rotor ENIGMA machine to decode a transmission. Most importantly of all, the new footage emphasizes the sense of watching the story unfold through the eyes of the war correspondent, which is what Director Wolfgang Peterson originally intended. The new footage adds considerably to the picture's atmosphere, and contributes important characterization -- particularly for Johann the Chief Engineer, the second-in-command, and Grade, the Chief of the Boat.
German with English subtitles is the default option, but an English dub with French subtitles is also available. The English track has been upgraded to Dolby 5.1.
This 2-DVD Uncut Version is highly recommended, but isn't for everyone -- note that it is deliberately aimed at the fan base. This special-interest group is likely the only one this version of the film will please. If you've never seen Das Boot, borrow a friend's copy of the shorter Director's Cut first; when you've cultivated an appreciation for this benchmark in WWII filmmaking, come back and get this edition. I would not recommend buying this version if you've never seen the movie -- it might turn you off due to its sheer length and relatively slower pace. Neither should the fan looking solely for special features purchase this Uncut Version - the featurette entitled: "The Making of Das Boot: Behind the Scenes" is a little over seven (7) minutes long, and is mainly a justification for the re-release of the full length cut.
A member of the Das Boot `cult' would be very pleased to see the extra footage in this Uncut Version. If you're a diehard fan, don't think twice; I bought mine even after having read the more negative reviews here. Four stars given for the substantive quality and importance of the new footage to the overall picture; the image quality and sound in places is not perfect, and there are no new special features worthy of the name, so this cut cannot receive five stars. Since you are willing to sit through close to 5 hours of Das Boot anyway, the instances of grainy new footage shouldn't overwhelm you. In all, the extra tidbits (in my estimation) are worth the money.
321 of 341 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2000
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Any movie that is subtitled has to overcome a lot to get me totally involved in its plot. In the case of Germany's celebrated Submarine classic "Das Boot", I don't remember there being subtitles past the first five minutes. What originally drew me to the film was Jürgen Prochnow. He's such a great actor and he really impressed me in "Dune" and "The Seventh Sign". As usual, his portrayal of the German Navy Captain is understated and yet impressively powerful.
If you know your modern history, you'll be familiar with the German Submarine Command's service history, during the Second World War. In the early years these subs caused havoc in the Atlantic Ocean and beyond, virtually bringing merchant shipping to a standstill. Over time however, the Allies' newly commissioned sub-hunter ships challenged the German's stealthy supremacy. Disappointingly, those great "sub verses sub" duels rarely happened during WWII.
Das Boot's story takes place in 1941, and gone were the days when "wolf-packs" of U-Boats ruled the seas. German subs were hounded everywhere they went, resulting in a survival rate that drew sympathy even from the Luftwaffe. Despite these desperate straits, the German high command continued to find missions for the remaining sub crews. Naturally, the men making up these crews were a special breed, and as such, they drew a lot of attention from the civilian press around the world.
In this case a newspaper correspondent called Lieutenant Werner, has joined the boat for the duration of its mission. Events unfold from his point of view and so we can lose our misconceptions and innocence along with Werner. He has no responsibilities on board and is therefore under less stress that most, but at the same time he has nothing to distract him from the pressure of each enemy attack and the many fathoms of sea water over the sub.
Holding it all together, under terrifying conditions, is a single man. The captain is a scruffy, mildly cynical, bastion of strength. He deals calmly with almost any situation, drawing on a seemingly unlimited store of courage. He also uses this courage in the face his 1st Lieutenant, a goose-stepping Nazi loyalist, who disapproves of his captain's lack of respect for Hitler, the high command and much else about Germany's military efforts.
The film takes an even darker turn when, during the middle of their tour, the captain receives orders to commence a new mission; a mission which amounts to suicide. They are asked to enter the Mediterranean Sea via the Gibraltar Strait and make an attack on enemy shipping. The strait is very narrow and heavily monitored but the captain accepts his orders, devising a strategy that gives them at least some hope.
Not surprisingly, things go bad from the start. I'm not going into a blow by blow description. Suffice to say that every moment is chock full of dramatic tension and the relationships within the crew become more obvious with every crisis. In the end, the audience feels almost as exhausted as these brave men, which makes the final scenes even more powerful.
One warning for those that want to see this absorbing movie. Do not watch the dubbed version. In some versions, the voice acting is a joke and distracts form the story. Instead, stick to the subtitles. Trust me, you're not going to notice them.
165 of 176 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2004
Finally we can see the full cut of Das Boot on DVD. Not only does this new edition have a remastered anamorphic transfer, it finally has the full, original 4 hour 50 minute cut (290 minute)that was cropped into the US theatrical edition (2 1/2 hours) and the Director's Cut (3 1/2 hours), but in a movie where the quiet moments where we learn about the characters are the best, the original cut (it was originally made for TV as a 6 part mini-sieres)has my strongest recommendation. The movie itself is the BEST submarine movie ever made without question, and also a realistic portrayal of life in a crowded, dirty German U-boat in WWII, filled with people who just want to go home and live normal lives, but due to the war are denied the chance. You see throughout the movie that the characters are not sympathetic to the German cause and that they aren't really fighting for their country, but their lives. This is one of my favorite war movies for showing the war through a different viewpoint than the one normally seen and an example of great filmmaking (p.s. - aviod the dub at all costs - go for subtitles).
77 of 80 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 2000
I don't think there are enough superlatives in the English language to adequately describe this film. It succeeds in every possible way. This is not only one of the best war movies ever, but among the very best films period. The story is based on a true story of a German Submarine and its crew during WWII. The plot is simple. A bunch of ordinary young guys are crammed into a little tin can and go out and do their duty while trying to avoid getting killed. This slice of life film gives a chillingly detailed look at the rigors of war in a U-boat.
We are treated to the stark reality of submarine warfare; the hours of boredom; the camaraderie and simultaneous aggravation that comes with living in such close quarters, the exultation of victory when a torpedo hits, the stark terror of the sound of a destroyer's propeller just above or the insane fear of the boat being crushed by the water pressure as you go too deep.
This film is unique in that it is done from the German perspective. Most films about WWII are from the Allied perspective since they were produced in Hollywood or England. What is striking about this film is how it depicts war as a human event rather than a nationalistic conflict. It makes us realize that for the foot soldier and sailor on the battle lines, no matter what side, war is the same. It is more a matter of survival than glory.
Director Wolfgang Peterson did a brilliant job on this film. The set and props were authentic in minute detail and the work in tight quarters was truly remarkable. You get a real sense of the cramped quarters and how nimble the men had to be scrambling from compartment to compartment. Peterson spares us none of the unpleasantness of submarine life. The stark reality of it is startling.
By far Peterson's greatest accomplishment is the spine tingling suspense. The effect is so terrifying you feel like you are part of the crew. His use of angles, lighting, actor's reactions and most especially sound makes this film far more frightening and suspenseful than anything the horror genre has ever produced. I viewed this on DVD (Director's Cut) and the sound was probably the best I've ever experienced. You hear water dripping behind you, bolts explode and go screaming diagonally across the room to clank on the other side, the sound of the destroyer's propeller escalates from a fly buzz to a roar as the ping from the sonar gets ever louder. You find every muscle in your body tensing as you hear them drop the depth charges.
The ending is superb. It is triumphant, poignant and ironic; unexpected and yet not surprising. It is neither what the viewer is apt to want nor expect, and yet it is not disappointing.
I can't think of any negative criticism I would give this film. It was nominated for six Academy Awards and won none. That speaks volumes about the dubious nature of the Academy. Even if you don't normally enjoy war movies, you should see this film. It is ultra excellent drama, entertainment and filmmaking. A perfect 10.
65 of 68 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2001
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I am updating this review to encourage fans of the movie to get the newly released "Original Uncut" version. This version is the one originally aired as a mini-series on German TV and is approximately 5 hours in length. It goes into much greater detail about the crewmembers and shows some critical dialogue and battle scenes that were left out of the theater version and the directtor's cut.
Get this DVD!! It is far superior to the VHS version. Watch the movie in German with subtitles to really get the flavor of the dialogue. The English dubbed version is, to me, sanitized.
Das Boot recreates a combat patrol of a German submarine operating out of France in 1941. The prologue explains that the war in the North Atlantic is turning against the Germans as the British have developed superior Anti submarine tactics. Nevertheless the Captain (brilliantly portrayed by Jurgen Prochnow) takes his baby-faced crew into harm's way in an effort to do his duty as a German Naval officer, even though his distaste for the High command is evident.
The movie was extremely well made. You really feel like you are inside this cramped 200' long piece of sewer pipe that was home to 50 sailors. The claustrophobia, boredom, lack of hygene, and loneliness all are effectively portrayed. Someone once wrote that being a soldier in wartime was 97% boredom punctuated by 3% of absolute terror. That axiom is evident throughout the film.
The DVD version has enhanced Dolby sound, which makes the depth charge attacks all the more realistic. In one sequence the depth charge attacks are so intense that it seems that the sound alone will destroy the U boat.
Some consider Das Boot an "anti-war" film. I am not sure that it really falls into that category. It certainly doesn't glorify war, nor does it really offer much commentary on the merits, or lack thereof, of the German war effort. The Officers onboard never really discuss politics, or what the war is about. Their attitude is, rather, that they are there to do a job and that's what they're going to do. Only one officer, a clean shaven die-hard Nazi expresses any real commitment, and he's made fun of by the others.
No, Das Boot is a film about war, and those who are called upon to fight it. It is intense, gripping and moving. You'll never spend $23 for a better DVD.
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
"Das Boot" has stood the test of time to become not only the greatest submarine movie ever made, but also one of the greatest war movies ever made.
At the outset, the viewer must understand that he/she is NOT watching an American movie. If you were, it would probably star George Clooney or Kevin Coster attempting to speak with a German accent, which would be a real tragedy in itself. It would also have a blatantly annoying soundtrack, lot of shots of the women back home worrying about their men, and loads of bad dialogue. "Das Boot" fortunately contains none of the above. What is does contain is a great story with top-notch production values, acting, and direction.
The story begins with the captain (expertly played by Jurgen Prochnow) and his crew celebrating the night before they will set out to sea in a German U-boat. These men, little more than boys, have no idea what they are about to experience. The captain does know, and you can see that realization on his face and in his character throughout the film. A young, idealistic correspondent obtains permission to travel with the crew and document their journey. The film really belongs to him as we see how he reacts as the realization gradually comes to him of exactly what he has stumbled into.
Director Petersen has done an outstanding job of showing us what it was like to serve on a WWII U-boat. You can almost get lost in the film, imagining the close quarters, the sounds, even the smells of being in a sub. Some viewers have commented that so much of the film is "boring." Again, audiences watching nothing but Hollywood films feel that an explosion has to occur every five minutes for the movie to be exciting. This movie is exciting, but the excitement builds from the tension that runs throughout the entire film. Sure, there's down time, but even at three and a half hours, there are no wasted shots. The ending??? Wow! See it for yourself!
All aspects of the DVD are also wonderful. I would have liked to have seen more of the making of the film, but what's there is very good. I recommend watching the film in the original German with English subtitles. Even if you're opposed to it, at least try it for the first 20 minutes. More people should see this film. It's worth your time.
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2004
If I had the time to take this movie door-to-door and sit down with everyone in America to watch this film, I would. Everyone needs to realize that I have a fascination with submarine films. I loved The Hunt for Red October and Crimson Tide. Both of them rank as my top action films. I don't know why I love this genre so much. I think it has to do somewhat with my passion for sci-fi. The ocean is almost like fighting in another world. So many times we have seen wars play out on land, and while there is only so much you can show with a land fight, the war field on the open sea allows for so much more creativity.
Director Wolfgang Peterson gives us some great characters. While not much dialogue happens in this film, you can see everyone's expressions on their faces, and those expressions tell better stories than words. You can see their fear, their excitement, their sadness, and their power by just the way that Peterson directs them. With his direction, I felt that I was on this U-Boat with the crew. Peterson perfectly portrays a feeling of crampness and claustrophobia wrapped together as one. I think that during one of the bombing scenes I broke a sweat because of what was happening on screen.
Finally, I am also a fan of films that tell a different angle on the story. So many years I have watched war movie after war movie that show the victorious American's beating the classic "evil-doers". Now don't get me wrong, these are fun sometimes, but I love to see a different angle. In history class we didn't learn about the casualties of the Germans in WWII. We learn about them as a statistic, and never put these heroes on a human level. This film humanizes the German's conditions during the war. The Germans are human being also, who fought for their country just as valiantly as our soldiers did during WWII. They had families, they had pasts, they had homes that they left to become a part of history. To fight for your beliefs. That is what America teaches us, fight for what we believe in....doesn't it?
I could talk about this for hours, but instead I am going to sit back, relax, and tell you how wonderful Das Boot was to watch. I have not been this entertained for a long time. Bravo to everyone involved in this film. I think it IS the best war film ever released (that I have seen). I want everyone to get out of their seats this weekend and go rent this movie. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.
Grade: ***** out of *****
62 of 69 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2000
I have watched this 2 1/2 times so far (in 2 days)! You can watch w/the original German (english subs on/off) or dubbed or w/director's & actor's commentary. Also, this has to be the best-dubbed film in history - mainly because most of the main actors did both the german & english versions. I have no idea why the sound didn't get a 5 rating, it's just the best - the attention to detail is amazing. I've been listening with headphones and you are INSIDE that damn U-boot. This has been called anti-war but for a much more subtle reason than Platoon or Private Ryan - sorry you won't see cow-guts exploding across the screen. You get inside this crew and it turns out they're pretty much just like an American or British sub crew, just speaking a different language. You find yourself rooting for the "wrong" side (the germans) - then asking yourself who's on the "right" side? Watch for the scene where the captain realises the crew of a British ship which has been burning for hours hasn't been rescued by any friendlies - he realises the brass on BOTH sides have no idea what's really going on.
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
"Das Boot" is one of the best german films ever made. In terms of cinematography, editing or directing, it is on par with any american film (A rare case for a german picture, especially 1980). It is also very well written and brilliantly acted. Like "Saving Private Ryan" it is not a simple WAR IS HEll movie like the german film "Stalingrad". It rather tries to depict the life on a submarine as realisticly as possible. It shows, like SPR, that soldiers during war sometimes do things that one can describe as heroic (taking Omaha Beach, getting the submarine seaworthy again), but only because they MUST do them, not because they WANT to.
"Das Boot" is still the most successfull german film of all time and it was nominated for six Oscars. This longer version is even better because it does not jump from one action scene to the next. Beware of the dubbed version which kills the authentic mood. Or would you want to see a german version of SPR (I have seen one and it was not nearly as good as the original, imagine Tom Hanks asking translator Jeremy Davies in German what the german soldier just said)?
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
"This is Lieutenent Werner, war correspondent." So says the U-boat's Captain to his second officer, amidst all the noise of a nightclub, as the latter tries to steady himself at attention. "He'll ship out with us. He'll report the true facts---life on a submarine." And it's through these eyes, figuratively speaking (Lieut. Werner does not speak to us or speak over the film), that we are taken on a journey through the atlantic's stormy waters, and to its depths. I've gone along for the ride over a dozens times thus far and have enjoyed this film with each viewing. Concerning the 3 versions available: If you're having movie night with some friends and want an enjoyable action adventure---very realistic depth charge explosives rocking this German sub (as well as your living room, if you have a surround sound system especially) then the original version will suit you well. This shortest version has a rather fast pace wherein something always is happening of a threatening nature, to either the sub itself or to the convoy freighters that the Germans are attempting to sink. The director's cut, in contrast, is about 50% longer and, as such, has a somewhat slower pace; as does this complete uncut version that was initially broadcast in Germany as an almost 6 hour mini-series. (Incidentially, the first 2 versions are simply edited versions of the latter one.) Owing to its lenth, I can understand how one would prefer one of the abbreviated versions (and I sometimes watch the director's cut for this reason myself), but when I want to really get immersed (pardon the pun) in this story I reach for this uncut version. For in this version it is far easier to feel aboard this sub as we watch the crew, like Lieutenent Werner does, with absorbing eyes; as they come alive to go on the attack, race to assume battle stations, rally in the face of death to save their craft when attacked themselves, or slumber/write/eat/sing/daydream of home. And one gets a lot more of the latter activities in this uncut version, giving us the closest experience most of us will ever get of being aboard a submarine. The lighting, the realism, the acting, the dialogue, the direction, you name it, everything about this film is consistantly superior to any other war film I've seen; and most other dramas as well. It is, in short, one of the finest efforts presented on film. I hope I have been of some help herein persuading you to consider seeing this motion picture in its full-lenth, most effective, form. (Unless you're 100% allergic to subtitles I recommend viewing the director's & uncut versions in the original German; and preferably on an otherwise quiet eve, in the dark, if you want to get the full import of this absorbing film.) Cheers!