By Carl Kruse
Supposedly it’s difficult to make anti-war films because movies tend to make war look exciting. That’s probably true but not for Wolfang Petersen’s “DAS BOOT” (1981) one of the best anti-war films ever.
Petersen followed the exploits and the ultimate demise of the German crew of U-96 during the Battle of the Atlantic in a beautifully crafted, riveting production, or as beautiful a film can be in which the protagonists do not end well. Based on the 1973 novel “Das Boot” by Lothar-Günther Bucheim, who turned his war time experience as a foreign correspondent aboard the real U-96 into a fictionalized novel.
I’ve always admired Das Boot and had the chance to roam the set of the film at Bavaria Filmstadt Studios in Munich, Germany. Other films made here include The Great Escape (1968), Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), and The Neverending Story (1984).
Part of the studios are open to the public and although somewhat Disneyfied, where you can “ride” Falkor or explore the “interior” of U-96, I found it worth a visit and recommend it to film lovers. A 25-minute drive from central Munich, and an afternoon at the place is all you need.
Marvel at the magic that converts sets into heaving U-boats though be forewarned – there is a reason magicians are loath to reveal the secrets behind their tricks.
Selfie inside the torpedo room of U-96.
- Carl Kruse
Film review of DAS BOOT by Roger Ebert:
For a story on another ship altogether check out the Titanic’s last message – its distress call in Morse Code: https://www.carlkruse.com/morse-code-revisited-communing-with-titanics-distress-signal/