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Beside the introduction of German music, I also want to show you some important German movies. The first one is called „Das Boot“ and was made back in 1981.
Due to its Erfolg (success), the movie was not only the breakthrough for director Wolfgang Petersen, but also for most of its cast. Here are some of them, maybe you have alreday heard of them:
Jürgen Prochnow: Kommandant („Der Alte“)
Klaus Wennemann: Leitender Ingenieur (LI)
Herbert Grönemeyer: Leutnant Werner
Martin Semmelrogge: 2. Wachoffizier
Uwe Ochsenknecht: Bootsmann Lamprecht
Ralf Richter: Dieselmaat Frenssen
Heinz Hoenig: Funkmaat Hinrich
Sky du Mont: Leutnant Müller
The movie is based on a Roman (novel) with the same title by Lothar-Günther Buchheim. Meanwhile there are four versions of the movie which partly are pretty different. The most famous version is the first one, the „cinema version“ from 1981 that also has been nominiert (nominated) for an Oscar. In the USA this version was shown in 1982.
In 1985 a version for TV was made. This one is much longer (almost 5 hours) than the first version.
In 1997 the Director´s Cut was published. This version is totally remastered and has much better sound and images than the original one.
And last but not least, in 2004 the TV Version was also released on DVD. This one is remastered as well, but the Director´s Cut is still better in quality.
But what is the movie all about?
Well, the action takes place in 1941 during World War 2. German U-Boote (submarines) have the mission to sink Handelsschiffe (merchant ships) that supply England with important goods. But the battle gets harder and harder because the merchant ships are accompanied by destroyers.
After a hard drinking party in La Rochelle (France), the submarine U96 also has to set sail. Kriegsberichterstatter (war correspondant) Lt. Werner (Herbert Grönemeyer) is also aboard. He will soon change his romantic imagination of a dangerous trip with enemy contact like this. But first, there is no enemy contact so the crew is beginning to get bored and partly starts mobbing Lt. Werner.
But the situation changes. A torpedo attack to a single Zerstörer (destroyer) fails and the U 96 is being attacked by Wasserbomben (depth charges) for the first time. After this, heavy storms appear and the submarine has to dive from time to time because it´s hard to keep on track on the surface and it´s getting impossible to locate the own position. After meeting another German crew, they realize that other ships are off track as well, so there are big gaps in the Überwachungskette (supervisory chain).
Eventually, U 96 approaches to an enemy convoy and sinks two enemy ships and damages a third one seriously. The submarine again is hardly attacked by depth charges but can escape knapp (curtly). After going up, they see the crew of a damaged ship burning and jumping into the water. But the captain refuses to held the enemy crew so every member of the U 96 who observed this is hardly disappointed and the moral of the crew gets down.
Back in La Rochelle, the U 96 gets a new Einsatzbefehl (mission order). The crew is supposed to go to La Spezia in the Mediterranian Sea. Therefore they have to pass the Strait of Gibraltar which is crowded by enemy battle ships. The crew tries to pass with a trick, but being attacked by Flugzeuge (airplanes) and battle ships, the submarine is forced to dive again. It´s getting out of control so it sinks down to the ground in a depth of 280 meters. The crew struggles to survive. Countless water inleakages have to stopped and the boat has to be fixed before there is even a chance to go up again. After more than 15 hours of fighting against time the boat finally reaches the surface again. The enemy thinks that they are all dead, so they can escape unbemerkt (unseen) back to La Rochelle. But while deboarding in La Rochelle most people of the crew are killed during a Luftangriff (air attack).
I have to admit, that it´s been years since I saw the movie, but I still remember that it was totally spannend (suspenseful) and during the research for this article I really got keen on seeing the Director´s Cut. So hopefully there will be a chance to see it soon.
Here´s some vocabulary:
der Erfolg – success
der Roman – novel
nominiert sein – to be nominated
das U-Boot – submarine
das Handelsschiff – merchant ship
der Kriegsberichterstatter – war correspondant
der Zerstörer – destroyer
die Wasserbombe – depth charge
die Überwachungskette – supervisory chain
knapp – curtly
der Einsatzbefehl – mission order
das Flugzeug – airplane
unbemerkt – unseen
der Luftangriff – air attack
spannend – suspenseful