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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Das Boot
Das Boot
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Review by Aaron Beierle | posted January 4, 2000 | E-mail the Author
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Wolfgang Peterson's phenomenal submarine drama has been released in the "director's cut" version for this DVD(it was also released in this form in theaters). The acting is simply phenomenal, with powerful performances from all of the men living on the cramped, claustrophobic sub. A fantastic film and definitely recommended. The original film was released in 1982 and went on to gain international acclaim, but 15 years later director Petersen("Air Force One", etc) felt that there was more to be done with this picture, and with miles of unused footage(it was originally going to be a miniseries). In 1997, the restored version(with fantastically remastered audio) was released.

The DVD
VIDEO: Overall, this is a really solid looking picture. There are times when it looks a little hazy such as when the sub is underwater, but during the submarine scenes, the picture looks really, wonderfully clear and clean. And most of this film does look excellent here, very clean with colors naturally reproducing the film's sort of bleak color look on the insides of the submarine. Peterson and his cinematographer Jose Vacano personally went back and restored the original negative. There is some pixelization during a couple of scenes, and a little grain, but otherwise there are no problems. A very good anamorphic transfer.

SOUND: This is really a classic in terms of sound. There seems to be things going on all over the place, all the time. Sonar pings fill the room, rivets from the ship begin to pop in one scene and can be heard coming from all directions. Explosions from the depth charges contain quite a bit of thunder, as well. There's never a moment where you're not enveloped by sound here- even if it's subtle, you always feel like you're right in the middle of the submarine. Sounds from all sides are well-defined and at times, breathtaking. The sounds of the sonar pinging are so clear that it really heightens the tension. That's what this remastered soundtrack is all about, really. This is really incredible work- the soundtrack is not overly done and tiring, it's at times subtle, at times explosive- just enough to really heighten the tension, or the claustrophobic nature of the film. The creaking and cranking of the boat can be heard in superior detail here- every pop and creak makes itself known for a thrilling experience. The sheer rumble and power of this soundtrack, not to mention how enveloping it is(you really feel like you are there is nothing short of amazing.

MENUS: Fairly basic menus based around the cover art of the film.

EXTRAS:
Commentary:: A commentary track by director Wolfgang Petersen, actor Jurgen Prochnow and director's cut supervisor Ortwin Freyermuth. Petersen talks for most of this commentary, with occasional tidbits thrown in by Prochnow. Freyermuth pretty much leads the discussion along, acting as the occasional moderator. The amazing thing is the kind of technical detail that Petersen is able to contribute about this film, from camera setups on various shots to details on where scenes were filmed. What I liked about this track instantly was that Petersen is able to say that there are parts of this film that he doesn't like, or doesn't feel that are "quite right". I think that things like that contribute to a more interesting commentary, because commentaries where the speaker is just saying "that was great, they were great, it was great." All of that goodness gets tiring, and you know that something wasn't always perfect.

Also talked about in the commentary is something that I found fascinating: Petersen talks about getting back into the director's cut because of all of the new advances in surround sound(which this movie uses quite well.) I'll say it now, I really enjoyed this commentary quite a bit. The three of them are quite funny together and I really found all the tales of the sets and days of filming to be really enjoyable to listen to. On top of that, the track provides a lot of informative technical information. We also learn about what the history of some of the actors then, and what they have gone on to do. The talk about how Petersen and crew built these sets down to the last detail is incredible to listen to and also interesting is the talk about how models were used to represent the subs. I was really impressed at how the commentary had almost no pauses- the group talks consistently throughout this 3 and a half hour picture. This is certainly one of the best commentaries I've had the pleasure to listen to lately.

Making Of:: There is a fairly short "Making Of" production on the film's re-release.

Final Thoughts: Fantastic audio and very good video quality combined with a very good commentary.

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