Das Boot

The Director's Cut

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Details At A Glance

Category Submarine Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1
Rating Other Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - Dolby Digital City
Running Time 200 minutes Commentary Tracks Yes, 1 - Wolfgang Petersen (Director), Jurgen Prochnow (Actor), Ortwin Freyermuth (Director's Cut Producer)
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (97:04) Other Extras Featurette - "Making Of"
Start Up Menu
Cast & Crew
Region 4 Director Wolfgang Petersen 

Columbia Tristar
Starring Jurgen Prochnow
Herbert Gronemeyer
Klaus Wennemann
RRP $34.95

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
German (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
Commentary Track - English (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.66:1    
Macrovision Yes    
Subtitles English
English Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary

Plot Synopsis

    Das Boot - The Director's Cut is an epic movie. It is one of those rare treasures that comes along now and again in moviemaking that makes watching all the other drivel worthwhile. It is the defining movie of the submarine genre. Despite its 200 minute running length, this movie passes very quickly. Incidentally, the DVD cover incorrectly credits the movie as being 216 minutes long.

    At one level, this is the story of a German U-Boat and its crew during World War II. This story is essentially factual, which makes it all the more chilling. At another, deeper, level, this is the story of what happens to a group of young men faced with death. This is what makes the movie so successful - it tells a very deep and compelling story which transcends both nationality and political beliefs.

    The movie opens with the very young crew ("ripped from their Mamas' skirts") celebrating their imminent deployment from the French Naval Base of La Rochelle. We watch the young, enthusiastic crew develop as time goes on, led by their Captain (Jurgen Prochnow). They commence their tour of duty full of enthusiasm, but this rapidly dissolves into boredom as they see little action, and later into fear as their lives are threatened.

    Whilst I will not give away the quite unexpected ending, there is no Hollywood-style happy ending to this story. I found myself strangely upset by this, but as pointed out during the Director's Commentary, the true story did not have a happy ending, and they have stuck with the true story.

Transfer Quality


    Yep, this is a Columbia Tristar DVD, that's for sure. This is a virtually perfect transfer, the result of a truly magnificent work of restoration.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer was absolutely razor sharp at almost all times. Shadow detail was very good, with no low level noise marring the picture. A few of the long shots exhibited slight amounts of grain, giving away the age of the movie, but the majority of the movie looked like it had been shot yesterday. This is particularly the case in the tank shots, where the green background is quite grainy. Unfortunately, the very first shot of the movie is one of these shots, and this had me worried until the next shot, after which the transfer settled down to its pristine usual self. Also, some of the close-up shots of the conning tower looked a little fake, a legacy of the non-existence of blue-screen technology, but this did not detract from the movie at all.

    The colours were beautifully rendered, neither being under- nor over-saturated.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. No film-to-video artefacts were seen. Film artefacts were extremely rare. This is a marvellously clean transfer.

    The movie is presented on an RSDL disc. The layer change is at 97:04, which is between Chapters 33 and 34. It is well-placed, and does not disrupt the flow of the movie.


    There are several audio tracks on this DVD. The default is English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Also present are French Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 2.0, surround-encoded and the Audio Commentary track, which is an English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded track. I initially listened to the English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, then to the German Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded track and finally to the Audio Commentary track (total listening time 600 minutes!).

    This movie was originally shot in German, in Dolby Stereo. The Director's Cut restoration was remixed in Dolby Surround, and the Region 1 DVD has both English and German 5.1 tracks on it. However, the Region 1 DVD is a flipper.

    We, unfortunately, have missed out on the German 5.1 mix. This is not a major tragedy, but it would have been nice to have had this track instead of the relatively useless French 5.1 soundtrack. The UK Region 2 version of this disc is both an RSDL disc and has the appropriate German 5.1 soundtrack, so this should be considered the definitive version of this disc.

    I consider the optimum way to watch this movie to be in German 5.1 sound with English subtitles, on a PAL RSDL disc, something that we are not able to enjoy with our release.

    Dialogue was usually clear, though some of the heavily-accented English on the dubbed mix is hard to make out. At times, the dialogue in any language is hard to understand. The actors for this movie created their own English dubs, so it is not as much of a desecration as is usual to listen to the English dub of this movie. Nonetheless, it sounds much better in its native German.

    The musical score is simple and yet very effective in creating the appropriate atmosphere.

     The surround channels are heavily used with this soundtrack. Enormous amounts of signal are fed into the rears at times, and are frequently present. They give a tremendously enveloping and surrounding experience to the movie. This is one of the most enveloping soundtracks that I have had the pleasure of listening to. You develop a real sense of being on the submarine, with creaks and subtle noises surrounding you almost continually. Split surrounds are not particularly used, and the major difference between the matrix mix and the discrete mix is the slightly better placement of sounds within the soundfield. This surprised me, as I expected to hear quite a difference between the two mixes.

    The .1 channel is worked very hard by this soundtrack, both on the discrete and on the matrix mix.


    The menu on the disc is excellent, and in keeping with the theme of the movie.

Audio Commentary Track

    The major extra on this disc is the commentary track by Wolfgang Petersen (Director), Jurgen Prochnow (Actor - Captain) and Ortwin Freyermuth (Director's Cut Producer). This is a superb commentary track. Wolfgang Petersen is expansive and interesting, ably led by Ortwin Freyermuth. Jurgen Prochnow adds a number of insights into the movie from the actor's point of view. The commentary is mixed as a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded track. The commentary is mixed into the centre channel with the movie's English audio mixed in with the commentary at a low level.

Featurette - Making Of

    An approximately 6 minute featurette under the menu option of "Making Of" is present. This is similar to the Village Roadshow Featurettes, in that it features bits of the theatrical trailer, the movie and cast & crew interviews intercut to form a reasonably interesting segment. This is presented in 4:3 format with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

Theatrical Trailer

    The Director's Cut theatrical trailer is present, formatted at 4:3 and mixed in English Dolby Digital 5.1.

Other Extras

    The Sony DVC and the Dolby Digital City Trailer are present on this disc in Dolby Digital 5.1 sound.


    Das Boot - The Director's Cut is a compelling and powerful movie. Despite the absence of a German 5.1 soundtrack, this disc is still highly recommended.

    The video quality is almost perfect.

    The audio quality is tremendously enveloping, and is only slightly marred by the absence of  German 5.1 soundtrack.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
4th February 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer