This is the restored, 209-minute director's cut of Wolfgang Petersen's harrowing and claustrophobic U-boat thriller, which was theatrically rereleased in 1997. Originally made as a six-hour miniseries, this version devotes more time to getting to know the crew before they and their stoic captain (Jürgen Prochnow) get aboard their U-boat and find themselves stranded at the bottom of the sea. Das Boot
puts you inside that submerged vessel and explores the physical and emotional tensions of the situation with a vivid, terrifying realism that few movies can match. As Petersen tightens the screws and the submerged ship blows bolts, the pressure builds to such unbearable levels that you may be tempted to escape for a nice walk on solid land in the great outdoors--only you wouldn't dream of looking away from the screen. --Jim Emerson
The original DVD release for Das Boot
featured a fabulous digitally remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. In addition, that DVD included one of the more informative director commentaries and making-of documentaries yet. The only complaint was that the movie was so long that it was spread over two sides, and the viewer had to get up to flip the disc over halfway through. This Superbit version won't remove the inconvenience of getting up off the sofa; it spreads the movie across two separate DVDs. However, the picture is slightly less noisy, something that will only be noticeable on larger screens with high quality A/V equipment due to the already murky, shadowy cinematography inside the submarine. The Superbit version of the movie has both a Dolby Digital 5.1 and a new DTS 5.1 mix of the soundtrack which is very similar to the digitally remastered soundtrack from the original DVD, but both are at a higher bit rate. Whereas the original DVD had a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix of both the original German and an English dubbed soundtrack, the Superbit DVD's Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS mixes are both of the German soundtrack. The English dubbed soundtrack only comes in Dolby Surround.
Is the higher bit rate audio and video worth losing the commentary and documentary? For anyone without the right A/V setup, it won't be, but a submarine movie is so much about the audio experience that Das Boot might be one of the movies most worthy of the Superbit treatment. --Eugene Wei