What’s On TV – Das Boot

List Item:  Watch half of the 1001 TV Series You Must Watch Before You Die
Progress: 222/501
List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 736/1007Title: Das Boot
Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Episodes Aired: 6
Year(s): 1985
Country: Germany

Das Boot is one of those weird instances where different cuts of the same material are on the TV and movies list; the TV version being twice the length of the one released in the cinemas. For the purposes of this post I watched the five hour television cut and thinking of it as being an extended director’s cut.

Based on the book of the same name, Das Boot tells the story of the crew of a German U-boat as they execute their orders during World War II. The whole thing has a very much an anti-war view (even if the author thought that this message had been watered down in Petersen’s version), although the crew still express joy for sinking the enemy – even if just for something to end the monotony.

This is one of the many things that I hadn’t even considered for the crew of the U-boats. I mean it’s easily conceivable that there would be the friction of living in such close quarters with all the grossness that it entails, but I never imagined how bored the crew would get at points. Or wet. The amount of water that regularly falls into the U-boat whilst crew members are on top is just… bewildering.

It isn’t the handling of these everyday annoyances that makes Das Boot such an amazing and compelling watch, it’s the palpable sense of danger and, at times, fear that the crew feel whenever an enemy destroyer is upon them or when they have to dive so deep that the boat starts to crack up around them.

For something that is essentially a war drama, Das Boot doesn’t succeed because of the war elements but because of just how it humanizes the men who are risking their lives in a steel tube under the sea. Despite these men fighting for Nazi Germany, you grow to care and understand them to the point of really rooting for them whenever they are staring death in the face.

Along with films like Grave of the Fireflies and The AscentI think that Das Boot is on the list of films/television that is essential watching in order to understand those who we once perceived as enemies. It’s all easy to just dismiss any suffering their people may have gone though and, for me, films and tv are the best way to do this – other than sitting down and talking with them.

Now, as far as I am aware, this is the last time that I am going to be able to cross something from two different lists at the same time. It was a nice little cheat while it lasted, but it’s time to have the TV and film lists permanently separated. Might also be nice to try and regularly cross off more than one TV show a month… but who has the time.

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