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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Action > War > WWII > German > Sea > Ocean > Submarine > Das Boot (1981/Sony Blu-ray Set)

Das Boot (1981/Sony Blu-ray Set)


Picture: B     Sound: B     Extras: B     Film: B



William Petersen’s Das Boot (1981) was an international sensation, with critical raves and surprising commercial success worldwide.  It showed Petersen could direct and handle interesting material, something he became known for until recently, when he hit commercial muddiness.  Thirty years later, it has now arrived in a new Blu-ray set and finally, we have a version that does justice to the film.


For those not in the know, “The Boat” as the title translates tells the tale of a Nazi German U-Boat trying to survive a living hell towards the end of WWII with a very young crew that starts out happy and slowly discovers the horrors of war in the most claustrophobic fashion.  A film on this subject and done this well had not been seen before, so some of it might not seem as amazing, but it was in its time.


It also puts aside the usual “bad Germans” WWII cliché as it deals with the situations in a more complex way than you might expect without being apologetic in any way, shape or form for the Nazis actions.  If anything, it shows their actions causing a decline that brought the whole war to slowly implode on them and reveals another side of the ugliness.  Like Gettysburg, William Peterson’s Das Boot (1981) is a TV mini-series as well as a feature film, but it offers coverage of its subject in a way that resonated and the Blu-ray set delivers it in a way that will impress all.


The cast has mostly remained unknown outside of Germany, though all are very convincing here and Jurgen Prochnow (A Dry White Season, Lynch’s Dune, The English Patient) heads the cast.


The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image has some grain, but Das Boot is one of those films plagued with substandard video copies for years that never did justice to the film and this version looks as fine as I could have ever expected.  The print is clean without being overly cleaned, the depth and color range is a welcome plus and the overall work by Director of Photography Jost Vacano (Robocop, Total Recall) is as effective as ever.  This is a very imitated film, especially in similar later commercial productions (Crimson Tide, U-571) and its raw approach is on the money.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mix comes from the same 1997 digital upgrade Director’s Cut remix soundmaster that included Sony Dynamic Digital Sound 8-track multi-channel theatrical release and the result is as good as this is ever going to sound.  Sony passed on trying to do DTS-MA 7.1 and that was the right decision as the audio in location recording can show its age.


Extras include BD Live interactive features, the shorter theatrical cut, feature length audio commentary by Petersen, vintage 1981 Behind The Scenes featurette, 1983 The Battle Of The Atlantic featurette, Captain’s Tour – Inside The Boat featurette, Wolfgang Petersen – Back To The Boat documentary and Going Deeper: Maria’s Take, The Perfect Boat.


If you have never seen this film before, don’t settle for anything less than this set or a theatrical screening!



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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