Director: Wolfgang Petersen (Germany)
The mother of all submarine movies, Das Boot remains streets ahead of other nautical epics such as The Hunt For Red October (1990) or Crimson Tide (1995) thanks to its slick action sequences and unbearably claustrophobic tension.
Director Wolfgang Petersen even suggested that cinemas should provide sick bags as cinema-goers were likely to feel seasick — something he probably kept in mind when shooting The Perfect Storm (2000) and Poseidon (2006) in Hollywood with an array of digital effects at his disposal.
Billed as Germany’s most expensive post-war film, Das Boot was seen by 20 million cinema-goers in 120 countries and grossed $22m, with $12m coming from the US alone (according to Mark Damon of Producers Sales Organisation).
Its success led to Petersen’s upward trajectory; he shot $30m fantasy film The NeverEnding Story (1984) and sci-fi drama Enemy Mine (1985) at Munich’s Bavaria Film Studios, where Das Boot had been made, before moving to Los Angeles and blockbusters such as In The Line Of Fire (1993), Air Force One (1997) and Troy (2004).
Petersen is now back in Germany to make his first German-language film since Das Boot, a reworking of his 1976 TV movie Vier Gegen Die Bank.
Bavaria Film’s decision to produce both a feature film and, in 1985, an extended TV series version of Das Boot is a textbook example of mutually beneficial collaboration between film and television, which was recognised with a Bafta and International Emmy.