Friday, July 27, 2012

On The Beeb Tube

Watching the BBC tonight - Das Boot is on. So what, Jeffro? You might say.

It's one of the best war movies ever made, that's what. It is about the "adventures" of a WWII German U-boat crew. The film really accurately captures many of the elements of living in a tiny metal tube with a big diesel motor sharing living space. The crew is continually dirty and unkempt, and alternate between euphoria  and depression, depending on their circumstances. They are more than willing to do their jobs, and are proud of their boat, but the High Command's failures, the politics, and the unending duty without a break tears the men down.

You can share their claustrophobia, while also sharing their camaraderie.  One scene I've always gotten a kick out of is where one sailor picks his nose and throws the boogers at another. Yeah, it's gross, but these are young guys forced together in an uncomfortable environment with death over their shoulders at all times. Just another way to vent some steam.

There are scenes where they escape their hunters by going too deep, and breaking down, being bombed and strafed - they are always among the hunted - the predator as prey. Another scene shows them being resupplied by essentially a cruise liner. The opulence of the ship, the extravagance and waste outlines their more meager daily existence. Even though the crew of the supply ship treat the submariners with awe and respect, they still feel out of place, and look it as well.

This movie does not cover the rightness or wrongness of the Third Reich. It's just sailors who like their jobs and just want to be left alone, and of course, that will never happen. The prevailing attitude about the politics is largely that there is too much interference. The political officers are not liked at all, and comments about the Glorious Hitler's Regime are sarcastic. They're in it because they are sailors.

This clip, though, really captures the spirit of the men and their fine sub - they battle the elements and clearly enjoy themselves, because they are sailors. That is what they do.


The original move is in German, and there are two English versions - one dubbed and the other with subtitles. Naturally, I prefer the dubbed version.

Edited to add - it's on The Military Channel, not BBC. Sheesh. Good thing it's Friday - apparently I've run myself dry, as it were.

1 comment:

drjim said...

Yes, excellent movie.
They really went for realism, showing how cramped the boats were. I felt sad for the guys at the end, after having gone through Hell to get back, and seeing their "home" sunk before their eyes.