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Das Boot

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Wolfgang Peterson’s epic WWII submarine film came out in Germany in 1981 and changed the way many filmmakers constructed tension in war and action films. It changed the way people viewed Germans during the war because it portrayed the submariners as simply human. And it became the most popular foreign language film in the US for a very long time. Join us — Pete Wright and Andy Nelson — as we begin our series on 1981 with Peterson’s “Das Boot.”

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“Now it all turns psychological, gentlemen.”

There are great years of cinema like 1999 when the films seem to redefine the direction of the medium. And then there are years that, while maybe not changing the nature of cinema, certainly have a lot of great movies.1981 is one of those years. Wolfgang Peterson’s epic WWII submarine film came out in Germany in 1981 and changed the way many filmmakers constructed tension in war and action films. It changed the way people viewed Germans during the war because it portrayed the submariners as simply human. And it became the most popular foreign language film in the US for a very long time. Join us — Pete Wright and Andy Nelson — as we begin our series on 1981 with Peterson’s “Das Boot.” We talk about the power of the anti-war story and why it works so well, even if German critics at the time thought it was a horrible move on the part of the filmmakers. We discuss the director and his cast, looking at what each of them bring to the table, particularly Jürgen Prochnow as the Captain of the U-boat. We go over the length and debate the worth of the additional hour in the director’s cut — was it necessary to add it all back into the film? We talk about taking the tour of the Bavaria Film Studios to see the original full-scale model of the submarine (and take a ride on Falcor from The NeverEnding Story!) And we talk about the complexities of shooting a submarine film with models, handheld cameras with gyroscopic stabilization systems, moving sets on gimbles made to spec, and more. It’s a powerful film that perhaps begins to wear its welcome, but we love it and have a great time talking about it this week. Tune in!

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