Review: Das Boot Blu-ray

Das Boot Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Sony | DIRECTOR: Wolfgang Petersen | CAST: Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Grönemeyer, Klaus Wennermann, Hubertus Bengsch, Bernd Tauber
7/5/11 | PRICE: Blu-ray $34.95
commentary, vintage featurettes, new documentary and featurettes
R | 209 min.,/149 min. | Foreign language war drama | 1.85:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | German with English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall

Das Boot movie scene

Jurgen Prochnow issues orders beneath the waves in Das Boot.

True story: The first time I saw Das Boot — Wolfgang Petersen’s (The Neverending Story) outstanding 1981 German TV miniseries/movie  about the exploits of a German U-boat during World War II — in 1982 at the historic 19th Street Theater in Allentown, Pa., there a flood in the theater. Really! Water came streaming down the aisles after a pipe burst. It was everywhere, and the film had to be delayed as they got it under control. A movie about the ever-present threat of water sinking a sub, and the theater was in danger of drowning.

Sony’s fine Blu-ray edition of Das Boot will never match my first theatrical experience of the film, but it’s still worth my time and yours.

This is the fourth Das Boot digital incarnation released by Sony, the first in a high-definition format. The Blu-ray includes two versions of the film: the 149-minute theatrical version, and the extended director’s cut, which clocks in at 209 min. (The 293-minute original uncut version, which Sony released on DVD back in 2004, is not included in this edition).

The sound and vision on the Blu-ray are very nice and certainly finer than earlier DVD editions — but not outstanding. The audio wins out between the two, particularly during the battle scenes, where the film’s outstanding soundscape is filled with the sub’s unending amalgam of clanks, rings, bleeps and hisses. The cranking machinery, crews’ stomping feet, torpedo launches, ominous creaking of the pressurized sub hull are as immersive, claustrophobic and effective as I’ve ever heard them.

The supplemental package on the Blu-ray is generous and includes a pair of vintage featurettes and the original commentary recorded by Petersen and star Jürgen Prochnow (Dune) years ago.

Leading the new extras is a well-produced 45-minute documentary, Wolfgang Petersen: Back to the Boat, which finds Petersen back on the original set of the movie along with his leading man. The pair detail the shoot and experience from all those years ago before Petersen came West and got behind the camera for numerous Hollywood pictures, including that other watery boat movie, 2006’s Poseidon.


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.