Intense WWII submarine drama has violence, strong language.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Das Boot is an intense, but superb, Oscar nominated German war movie -- based on a 1973 novel -- with intense scenes, violence, and strong language. Various versions of the movie have been released (as well as a TV series) -- this review is of the subtitled 208-minute Director's Cut. The movie tells the story of a German u-boat (submarine) mission in 1941 during World War II. Sea battles and the subsequent peril focus on the human issues, with strong emotions including panic, fear, and sadness. Some battles result in bloody injury and during one battle, enemy soldiers on fire jump into the sea. The crew are shown as highly competent and display good teamwork. But the commanding Nazi officers setting their orders are shown to be out of touch. Infrequent strong language includes "f--k" and "s--t." Before the crew leave on their mission, they spend a raucous night at a nightclub, which features lots of smoking, drinking to excess, and disrespectful behavior. This includes men grabbing a scantily clad cabaret dancer and urinating on Captain Lehmann-Willenbrock's (Jürgen Prochnow) car. There are two instances of male characters displaying their naked buttocks -- one during an emergency when a man runs out of the bathroom, and the other when a medic inspects a man's genitals for pubic lice.
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What's the Story?
In DAS BOOT, the crew of German submarine U-96 embark on a mission in the midst of World War II that will test their, nerves, skills, and the boat to their limits.
Is It Any Good?
More a horror movie than a gung-ho war film, this excellent WWII drama's focus is very much on the human element of war. Rather than goodies vs. baddies, Das Boot excels at creating three-dimensional characters, who each have their "normal" lives wrenched from them by the outbreak of war. Now these 50, mostly, very young men who are crammed into a cramped, smelly submarine, have to keep their nerve amid great danger. As the boat's captain, Jürgen Prochnow strikes the perfect balance between a commander following orders and a man sympathetic to the plight of his young crew and, in one heartbreaking scene, even enemy soldiers.
Heartbreak and horror are what to expect in this masterful movie that ratchets up the tension continually for its three-and-a-half-hour runtime. It's also got a lot to say about military leaders -- with zero respect shown for Nazi high command who are living like kings on boats with exotic banquets, while the regular military personnel are struggling against seemingly unwinnable odds. Effective as an anti-war movie and as thrilling as any disaster flick, Das Boot is a humanistic masterpiece.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how war is portrayed in Das Boot. Was it a realistic portrayal? What do you think the filmmakers were trying to say about war? How to talk to kids about violence, crime, and war.
Discuss the strong language used in the film. Did it seem necessary or excessive? What did it contribute to the movie?
How did the crew demonstrate teamwork and courage? Why are these such important character strengths to have?
How was drinking and smoking portrayed in the movie? Was it glamorized? Were there consequences? Why does that matter?
The movie is about a crew of seaman who are fighting for Nazi Germany. Did this feel unusual? How did this make you feel? Did you find any of the characters sympathetic?
- In theaters: September 17, 1981
- On DVD or streaming: October 21, 2003
- Cast: Jurgen Prochnow, Klaus Wennemann, Herbert Grönemeyer
- Director: Wolfgang Petersen
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Book Characters, History
- Character Strengths: Courage, Teamwork
- Run time: 208 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: some war violence and brief language.
- Last updated: February 12, 2023
For kids who love movies about war
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