Das Boot

Year: 1981
Director: Wolfgang Peterson
Writer: Wolfgang Peterson
Cast: Jurgen Prochnow
An undisputed classic, unfortunately because it was the first of a very distinctive kind of thriller. It's unfortunate because I wasn't born when moviemaking was just coming into its own so I missed the original films in most distinctive classes and while I was growing up thinking Lucas and Spielberg were the visionaries, they were crediting Kurosawa and 50 matinee serials as being their inspiration.

The distinctive thriller I'm talking about can only be termed the submarine genre, a style of pic that grasps every sweaty, claustrophobic detail about life on board a military sub. Cue endless (and endlessly homaged) shots of terrified sailors looking at the ceiling waiting for death to rain down on them in the form of enemy depth charges.

As a story, it's pretty simple; a slow and under-resourced sub is sent to sea and then diverted through the straits of Gibraltar - the most heavily guarded stretch of water in the Mediterranean. On the way, the German crew have to

The acting is a little melodramatic at times, but some incredible filmmaking techniques must have been employed as far as set design - the camera literally runs the length and breadth of a submarine chasing panicked sailors, and does indeed capture every stink of close contact and sweaty drip of fear.

Having said that, there are only so many depth charge attacks you can depict before it gets boring and starts to beggar belief - it can't have been that hard to get a hit from a battleship when your target was barely below the surface.

In a very rare happening in the movies though, the Germans are the heroes, humanised and afraid, while the English are the unseen, scary and better-equipped villains.

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