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Das (re)Boot

War films are a particular favourite of mine. They normally combine a fine director with a strong cast and action sequences. Although necessarily dealing with past events they also reflect the times in which they are made. Zulu, for example, made in 1964 reflects the anti-war sentiment of the times and Harold MacMillan’s famous Wind of Change speech.

They have developed in their own ways from the propaganda movie like The First of the Few, the biopic of Spitfire builder Leslie Mitchell, to the team movies like The Dirty Dozen and The Great Escape.

In 1951 James Mason made somewhat controversially The Desert Fox the biopic of Irwin Rommel. The Longest Day (1962) featured German generals whilst my favourite of all The Battle of the Bulge had Robert Shaw in a leading role as Panzer commander Hessler.

It was not till 1978 Germany produced its own movie Das Boot directed by Wolfgang Petersen. When I asked for contributions to a list of top ten war films this featured highly.

It really depicted well the claustrophobia of being in a compacted tube below the sea, the impact of the depth charges and the vital role the Wolf Packs played till Bletchley busted their enigma code. Germany unlike Britain had never been a maritime power which alone justified Churchill’s decision to scuttle the French fleet at Mers el Kebir before the Nazi Kriegmarin got their hands on it.

The film has now been remade into a series on SKY ATLANTIC with a parallel story of the French resistance. At this early stage the plot is as unfathomable as the depths to which a U-boat can go.

There appears to be some trafficking in morphine by members of the French resistance. The only thing that is apparent is a member of the resistance is working as radio operator on the Uboat.

Vicky Krieps plays his sister who becomes entangled as she is forced to deliver a phial of morphine to someone tortured by the Gestapo. Torture scenes are always de rigeur but it’s more surprising to see gratuitous female nudity as with the French landlady where Krieps is billeted.

There was enough to make me watch the first two episodes in one go and look forward to next week’s offering.

The question is raised on the moral stance of the German host production. In another early scene 2 Royal Navy sailors delight in the sinking of a U-boat but so far the film restricts the U-boat attacks to warships not the convoys.

Tom Wlaschiha plays the young U-boat commander whilst Dieter Bock, who was in SS GB, plays the senior naval officer, Gluck. Sehr gut.

About Neil Rosen

Neil went to the City of London School and Manchester University graduating with a 1st in economics. After a brief stint in accountancy, Neil emigrated to a kibbutz In Israel. His articles on the burgeoning Israeli film industry earned comparisons to Truffaut and Godard in Cahiers du Cinema. Now one of the world's leading film critics and moderators at film Festivals Neil has written definitively in his book Kosher Nostra on Jewish post war actors. Neil lives with his family in North London. More Posts