Das Boot (also known as The Boat) is a 1981 film directed by Wolfgang Petersen. It was co-produced by Günter Rohrbach. The screenplay was written by Wolfgang Petersen and is an adaptation of the 1973 novel of the same name by Lothar-Günther Buchheim. Das Boot stars Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Grönemeyer, Klaus Wennemann, Hubertus Bengsch, Martin Semmelrogge, Bernd Tauber, Erwin Leder, Martin May, Heinz Hoenig and Uwe Ochsenknecht.
The storyline follows the crew of U-96 as they are engaged in the Battle of the Atlantic to destroy the British transatlantic fleet. It shows both the excitement and the boredom of the fruitless hunt, examining how they maintained their complete professionalism while attempting to understand and obey the ideology of the government under which they served.
Wolfgang Petersen meticulous attention to detail resulted in Das Boot being regarded as a historically accurate depiction of U-96. Among the crew there is only one ardent Nazi, the First Watch Officer who is referred to as Unser Hitlerjugendführer which means Our Hitler Youth Leader, the rest are indifferent or openly anti-Nazi. The U-Boat fleet was believed to have been one of the least pro-Nazi branches of the German armed forces.
During development of Das Boot, Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock, the captain of the real U-96 and one of Germany’s top U-boat “tonnage aces” during the war and Hans-Joachim Krug, former first officer on U-219, both served as consultants.
Principle photography was completed at Bavaria Studios in Munich. An interior set was constructed and mounted five metres above the ground and shaken, rocked and tilted up to 45 degrees by hydraulics. Wolfgang Petersen was so obsessive about the detail of the set and remarked the “every screw” was an authentic representation of a World War II U-Boat.
When Das Boot was released it received positive reviews from the critics. On Rotten Tomatoes it currently holds a rating of 98% with the general consensus being, “Taut, breathtakingly thrilling, and devastatingly intelligent, Das Boot is one of the greatest war films ever made”. On IMDb, it currently holds a rating of 8.4/10. Among the critics it was praised for its unsurpassed authenticity in tension and realism, it is regarded internationally as pre-eminent among all submarine films.
Commercially, Das Boot was a huge box office success. Produced on an estimated production budget of $14m, which ranks it among the most expensive films in the history of German cinema, second after Metropolis (inflation adjusted). It took $26,994 in US box office takings from its opening weekend. However, it went onto achieved total worldwide box office receipts of $84,970,337 including its original 1981 release and re-release in 1997.
The Boat aka Das Boot
Year of Film
Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Grönemeyer, Klaus Wennemann, Hubertus Bengsch, Martin Semmelrogge, Bernd Tauber, Erwin Leder, Martin May, Heinz Hoenig, Uwe Ochsenknecht
Origin of Film
Genre(s) of Film
Adventure | Drama | Thriller | War
Budget: $14,000,000 (Estimated)
Opening Weekend: $26,994 (USA)
Gross: $84,970,337 (Worldwide)
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