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Das Boot
War Drama Thriller / German / 1981

I have discovered to my misfortune that it seems I would be remiss to conclude a submarine movie marathon without Das Boot, a movie which clocks in at over 3 hours, reputedly because it's also a slice-of-life film. I'm not optimistic.

"To be heading into the inexorable, where no mother will care for us, no woman crosses our path, where only reality reigns, with cruelty and grandeur."

3 hours is brutal for any movie, Metropolis and Lord of the Rings included, I really don't think it needed to be that long to communicate the passage of time and frequent boredom experienced by submarine crewmen.

Having established that, Das Boot is the closest to Greyhound in terms of being a technical representation of submarine combat, and it takes place at the same time; during the Battle of the Atlantic.

Main difference here being that we exclusively follow the occupants of a U-Boat this time, it's much smaller and less sophisticated than the subs in Wolf's Call or Red October, but consequently we get a much stronger sense for it's workings, it's layout, and the general sense of claustrophobia it brings. We become familiar with the control room, the engine room, the torpedo bay, the crew quarters, and the tiny area the officers eat at, half of whom have to stand up for anyone to get to the opposite side of the sub.

Despite us following a Nazi U-Boat, I appreciate that the movie didn't condescend to finger-wag at the audience to remind us that Nazis are bad guys (something that wouldn't fly nowadays), and instead focuses almost entirely on moment-to-moment drama aboard the U-Boat, regardless of the crew's motivations, allegiances, or political ideals.

In at least one point the Captain insults one of the officers, essentially for shaving and eating food with a knife, calling him a "Hitler Youth", but it comes across much more as a general cynicism that could be plausibly developed by any military veteran who's come to accept that the real people in charge have little concern for the lives they put at risk under the ocean.

In terms of the dilemmas encountered, thankfully we're spared any drama about mutinies or defection, or fearmongering about some brand new Deus Ex Submarine with a caterpillar drive or some shit, and instead we get quite the breadth of problems that could conceivably plague a U-Boat.

And I'm not talking Widowmaker-type problems, the sub in this case manages to survive an incredible amount of damage, and the crew scrambles to address each individual threat to the sub's integrity as soon as possible.

We get a shooting bolts from water pressure, we get a fire on-board, we get various leaks and flooding, they get attacked by a destroyer, they get attacked by a plane, they get attacked by an STD, it's wild... and it all culminates in numerous vital parts of the submarine getting damaged resulting in the sub going far beyond crush depth, colliding with the ocean floor, and refusing to rise, even as the water pours in and the oxygen runs out.

They're definitely interesting dilemmas, and you get a greater sense of the resourcefulness these characters have to exercise when they're trapped underwater with only so many tools to work with.

What I didn't like was... the general attitude of the crew. The movie opens up with them all throwing a real Nazi shindig where everyone but the Captain is drunk as could possibly be, and just straight up pissing on their car as they drive by.

That's a fantastic way to make me instantly hate everyone involved in this movie. Imagine having to be the Captain to some degenerate **** who brazenly pisses on your car at the first opportunity and yucks it up.

I understand that we're supposed to appreciate the change in tone from before they set to sea and after they've returned, but that's sufficiently communicated by the characters growing beards, looking all solemn and shellshocked, and appearing completely out of place when a fresh new batch of dapper Nazis salute Herr Fuhrer.

I also think I just have an irrational hatred for this character:

I hate looking at him. I hate his ugly ginger neckbeard face. I hate his Owen Wilson-style pout. I kept struggling to figure out why he's even in the ****ing movie, the camera keeps fixating on him and I wish it would stop!

Apparently he's some propagandist whose job it is to get into actual crew members faces with a camera to take money shots? ACTUALLY **** off. I did not like this character, I did not want to see his experience on the sub, I did not want to see him go all "I'm the king of world" on us, I wish he got shot.

Meanwhile I keep looking at the Captain and, knowing this is a German movie, thinking "gosh that guy sure does look like Sutter Cane from In the Mouth of Madness".

Jürgen Prochnow (German pronunciation: [ˈjʏʁɡn̩ ˈpʁɔxnoː] listen (help·info); born 10 June 1941) is a German film, stage, and television actor. His international breakthrough was his portrayal of the good-hearted and sympathetic U-boat Captain "Der Alte" ("Old Man") in the 1981 war film Das Boot.[1] He is also known for his roles in The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum (1975), Dune (1984), Beverly Hills Cop II (1987), In the Mouth of Madness (1994),
Oh, I actually got it right, that is him. Holy shit.

If I had never seen him before the beard I never would have guessed. I mean French Gilbert Gottfried wasn't actually Gilbert Gottfried, so can you blame me?

I don't know what to feel about this movie. At the best of times it was fun, I feel like I learned about what it might have been like to live on a WWII submarine, got some action, got some thrills. It's good.

But it's also a bit of a chore to watch and I'd really rather penises and sex not have been brought up as much as they were. I did not need to see a row of drunk ******** pissing into the camera within the first 2 minutes of the movie, and I did not appreciate knowing that they went on to give each other ****ing crabs.

That is a level of realism I would have been quite content without, and constantly showing me ginger-neckbeard-man is not improving my opinion.

Also the ending is weirdly anti-climactic with the crew getting Pearl Harbor'd last second during the return celebration. Okay then.

I really don't want to rate this movie the same as the others, but my complaints with it are ultimately much less serious or irritating than the issues in those other movies. Consider this one a [Meh...] and both Widowmaker and Wolf's Call docked half a point each.

Final Verdict: