It is 1941 when the Allies have finally gotten the upper hand in the air and on the sea. Das Boot follows a reporter (Herbert Grönemeyer) who goes on a tour of duty with a U-boat. Holding the crew together, under terrifying conditions, is the captain (Jürgen Prochnow). He also uses this courage in the face his 1st Lieutenant (Hubertus Bengsch), a Nazi loyalist, who disapproves of his captain's lack of respect for Hitler.
They are on a mission to sink British ships but the Captain knows that the British destroyers are now equipped with sonar devices that can locate the whereabouts of submarines. During the middle of their tour, the captain is asked to enter the Mediterranean and make an attack on enemy shipping. The Gibraltar Strait is very narrow and heavily monitored but the captain devises a strategy that gives them at least some hope.
Within 10 days it will be Otto Sander`s 72th birthday. (June 30, 1941)
Within 20 days it will be Hubertus Bengsch`s 61th birthday. (July 10, 1952)
Release date: September 17, 1981
Academy award nominations:
Best Cinematography ->Jost Vacano
Best Director -> Wolfgang Petersen
Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing
Best Film Editing
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium
The original builder of the subs was commissioned to build a full-sized, sea-going replica (their first such assignment since the war ended). A second full-sized model was built for interior filming.
Rutger Hauer was offered to play Captain Lehmann-Willenbrock, but turned it down to do Blade Runner.
The submarine built for Das Boot were also the ones used in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Source / More (Book)
On the DVD there is the director’s cut of the film, which spans about 60 minutes more than the original cut. The sound in this version has also been digitally redone from the top down.
To simulate the storm in the Atlantic, a model of the tower was splashed with water from a large tank. The actor Jan Fedder lost his grip on the railing and was washed of the model, breaking a few ribs in the fall, one of the other actors instantly shouted “Man Overboard” . Petersen kept this scene and rewrote Jan Fedders part in the film, so that his character spent the rest of the movie in bed.
During 1941, a war correspondent named Lothar-Günther Buchheim joined U-96 for a single patrol. His orders were to photograph and describe the U-boat in action for propaganda purposes. From his experiences, he wrote a short story, Die Eichenlaubfahrt (The Oak-Leaves Patrol) and a 1975 novel which was to become an international best-seller. Source / More (Book)
The real U 96 sunk March 30, 1945 at Wilhelmshaven (Germany). The boat was later scrapped. Source / More (Book)