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"Das Boot" is perhaps the finest war film I have ever seen. It is certainly in my top three films about war. I recently watched the Director's Cut of this German film, released in 1997 (the original was first shown in German theaters in 1981 and then as a TV miniseries). "Das Boot" is an adaptation of Lothar-Günther Buchheim's 1973 German novel of the same name, and it tells the fictional story of a German U-96 crew during World War II.

The director's cut is 3 hours and 29 minutes long, combining action sequences from the 2.5 hour original theatrical release (which garnered six Academy Award nominations) and character development from the miniseries. Improvements in the picture and sound were also made. Yes, 209 minutes is a substantial amount of time to devote to watching a film, but I can tell you, the Director's Cut is worth it. I have watched much shorter films that seem twice as long. I found this film riveting from the bawdy opening scene to the closing segment, one of the most poignant and moving moments I have witnessed on film.

The tension in this film is palpable. The tedium and the fear of fighting a battle deep beneath the surface of the sea is made incredibly real for the viewer. I felt great empathy for the characters, and forgot they were Germans, fighting for the other side. They were men, some really boys, struggling to do their best under the most difficult conditions.

This is one of the best films I have seen - an epic, classic, World War II tale - and I highly recommend it.

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2 hours ago, The Hersch said:

I generally agree with your assessment of this film, but the original cut was already WAY too long; to add another hour to it is inhuman.

Perhaps it would seem long watching it in a theatre. Streaming it online with a break here and there makes it quite watchable, I believe. I haven't seen the original cut, so I can't compare the two, but I enjoyed the character development in the Director's Cut, which is supposed to have come from the miniseries. 

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This was on TCM today and I saw all but the first half hour. Amazing tension! OMG, there's a scene where the U-Boat captain, his lieutenant, and chief have made it through an amazing escape against all odds and come on board a cushy ship where nobody understands the impossible orders of the high command, or has any real idea of the hardship they put the men through! I thought of how nobody in the Memphis airport in Cast Away knew what they were saying to Tom Hanks when they said they were bringing him back to life ("I've BEEN through life, thank you!), or the craziness and uncaring of the number of missions assigned to Yossarian and the men in Catch-22. Sinking the destroyer and turning away from dying men jumping off the ship. (Didn't they come get these men after we damaged their ship? They had HOURS!). Glad I caught this one today, and I remembered this thread on Das Boot.

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