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Das Boot aka The Boat [Blu-ray]
(Wolfgang Petersen, 1981)
NOTE: This Blu-ray package contains the 208 minute (director's cut) and the original theatrical 149 minute version. It does NOT contain the 293 minute (uncut version).
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR)
Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
(Director's Cut TOP vs. Theatrical BOTTOM)
Description: Wolfgang Petersen's harrowing and claustrophobic U-boat thriller Das Boot was released as both a theatrical film and a six-hour mini-series, and remains the most expensive production ever made by a German studio. This epic story became an instant classic on its first release, provoking critical and audience acclaim worldwide for its sympathetic and entirely truthful portrayal of a German U-boat crew. Faithfully adapted from the bestselling novel by Lothar-Günther Buchheim, Petersen and his committed cast (led by the amazing Jürgen Prochnow) were concerned to ensure that every detail was rendered with painstaking accuracy--both physical and psychological--and the result is not only the best submarine drama ever made but also arguably the finest cinematic portrait of men at war and the terrible madness they must endure.
(Director's Cut TOP vs. Theatrical BOTTOM)
This belongs to that least enticing of genres, the submarine movie. Yet, despite a narrative almost wholly confined to the cramped interior of a U-boat patrolling the Atlantic, it isn't hard to understand why Germany's most expensive film ever became an international hit. Apart from the fact that, like Chariots of Fire, it exploits a contemporary soft spot for nostalgic, non-sectarian patriotism, Petersen's shooting style displays a breathtaking, if impersonal and faintly academic, virtuosity comparable to that of Lean or Coppola. As the brilliantly deployed Steadicam whizzes through the sweaty clutter of the vessel's living quarters, the film's unfailing (and paradoxical) sense of spectacle is rendered even more dynamic by appearing about to burst at the seams of its own claustrophobia.
A gripping thriller set on a doomed German submarine during the final
years of WWII, Das Boot (1981) established Wolfgang Petersen's
gift for directing action films. Petersen received Academy Award
nominations for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay as his film
garnered a total of six nominations. Costing almost $12 million to make,
Das Boot was the most expensive German film of its time and
significantly altered the common perception of the German cinema as
anti-Hollywood intellectualism typified by directors like Wim Wenders
and Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
This package consists of two Blu-ray discs. The first has the 3.5 hour Director's Cut and the second has the 2.5 hour Theatrical. Both discs are dual-layered from Sony. I watched disc one and the image looked softer than I was expecting with some waxi-ness. This seemed to leave as the film progressed and overcame the early 80's stock to produce a reasonable image. I couldn't detect any boosting and I think this will easily be regarded as the best digital representation for home theater consumption. The DC is so long that despite filling the entire first Blu-ray disc space (48.5 Gig) there is still some compression noise. Thankfully, it wasn't a big factor in my viewing - in fact this hi-def rendering gave me a great presentation. Jost Vacano's expert cinematography seems all the more claustrophobia-inducing in the higher resolution. The comparison captures indicate that the frame is marginally cropped on the top, as compared to the DVDs, but has an equal amount additional on the bottom as well as minutely on both sides. There isn't a lot of depth but the visuals seem to be reporting an accurate representation which definitely elevates about SD. I didn't view the shorter 'theatrical' version on the second Blu-ray yet, but tested under the microscope of screen captures (we may add a few later) and it seems to be producing a similar image to the first disc with equivalent stats. Hopefully, the captures below will give you a decent idea of the image quality.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Both the original German and an English DUB are available on the both cuts. On disc one, the Director's cut, they are presented in DTS-HD Master 5.1 tracks at around 2300 kbps. I only briefly checked the DUBs. The surround track is not overwhelming but does a decent job with separations as well as some foreboding power (in the depth charges scene etc.). The shorter version is transferred at a 2.0 channel lossless. Klaus Doldinger's score doesn't dominate but overall the sound quality is notably superior to my Columbia DVD. The director's cut has many options for foreign language subtitles but the theatrical has only English and French.My Momitsu has identified both discs as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
The Director's Cut has the previous released commentary with director Petersen, Jurgen Prochnow and director's cut supervisor Ortwin Freyermuth.It's pretty good but hard to fill 3.5 hours but they seem to be having a good time - enjoying the camaraderie. This is all that is on the first disc with more features relegated to the theatrical version disc - due to space constraints. There are over 3-hours worth of video supplements including some that were already available on the last multi-disc DVD package. Highlights include a 45-minute piece entitled Wolfgang Petersen - Back To The Boat, an interactive overview of the rooms on the Sub and two interesting historical documentaries - the hour-long behind the scenes from 81' and from 83' The Battle of The Atlantic which sheds some detailed light on the World War II effort by Nazi Germany to disrupt Allied shipping with U-boat attacks and the Allied efforts to prevent it. Great stuff!
Director's Cut Blu-ray
Theatrical version Blu-ray
June 28th, 2011
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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