Is this the greatest war (or rather, anti-war) movie yet? I certainly think so. Before I saw Das Boot, my favourite movie with a war theme was actually Judgment At Nuremberg. But great as that movie was, it fell to second place even when the first time I saw Das Boot, it was a very badly annotated version.
Here we have the director's cut and the full suspense, horror and tragedy of Wolfgang Petersen's masterpiece has captivated me once again. The suffocating atmosphere of a WWII German U-boat is so real, you almost have to open a window in your home just to get through watching it. One can only imagine the stench in that tiny space crammed with dozens of men eating, drinking (and of course, defecating) whilst pouring with the sweat of effort and sheer terror.
You finish up wondering how it is that men can put themselves through such a ghastly experience in such a terrible environment. And then you realize that throughout the history of warfare it has always been so. From the hopelessness of the Spartans holding off the Persians at Thermopylae to the grisly trenches and massive casualties of WWI, the maxim that old men of dubious morals have always been able to convince young men of the glory and excitement of participating in war and of the moral right of doing so.
Only when they experience the reality of actual combat do these young men realize how truly human (even child-like) they really are and the horror of what they've gotten themselves into. And when you see the talents that many of them have, from the mechanics, electricians and other specialists that keep the boat running while at sea, to the human-management capabilities of the senior officers, you realize what a truly wasteful endeavour the practice of war is.
For those of us who have been fortunate enough never to have had to go to war, this film will reinforce our gratitude.