I have always been fascinated by military movies. I recently came across this brilliant 1981 feature film – Das Boot (“The Boat”) directed by Wolfgang Petersen adapted from a novel of the same name by Lothar-Günther Buchheim.
Its a german movie and the entire plot revolves around a single mission of a World War II U- Boat, U-96 and its crew. This movie brilliantly depicts both the excitement and the monotony related with a war.The men serving on the boat are ordinary citizens with a desire to do their best for their country and their comrades.It is based on the exploits of a real german officer Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock who was the commanding officer of a U 96 boat during World War II.
What hit me most about the movie was the fact that it runs for almost 4 hours and most of it is inside the claustrophobic interiors of the submarine.It is literally a journey through the highs and lows which a sailor faces while on duty.The thrill of hunting for a destroyer or the fear when being depth charged have been showcased brilliantly all along.There are many unforgettable scenes in the movie,one of my favorite being the moment when the submarine has sunk to the sea shell and is trying to resurface.During this entire sequence each and every sailor is shown trying to help in whatever way he can to make the submarine resurface.All the sailors help in repairing the damages which caused the submarine to sink.
At the end it all comes down to blowing the ballast of water out of the submarine to make it resurface.At this very moment you become one with the sailors and feel the excitement when the submarine starts to rumble because of the ballast. And here comes a scene where all sailors are standing in a semi-circle looking at each other and at the depth indicator. As the depth indicating needle starts moving up, they roar with joy in unison. This scene is simply overwhelming.At that very moment i truly understood the real value for life.
Many features of a sailor’s life are depicted realistically in this movie. Initially old sailors have strong bonds between them and newbies have to face many jokes and insults before they are finally accepted as a part of the group.Ideological differences amongst the sailors lead to a lot of struggle initially before they finally accept each other whole heartedly.The bond between the sailors thickens as the movie progresses.
Another great feature of this movie is the accuracy and the attention to detail which has been given to each and every aspect of the movie.Whether it is the depiction of the common naval disease “Crabs” or whether it is the accompanying music everything is just perfect.To show the camaraderie being built amongst the sailors in the initial part of the movie,a very apt marching track “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” is played where all the sailors are shown singing to its tunes together.
It’s a Long Way To Tipperary
Also the action scenes when the submarine is shown hunting for the destroyers are power packed and filled with excitement.In short this movie is a window to the world which has no windows at all !