The Director's Cut

Wolfgang Petersen

In 1982, DAS BOOT took moviegoers on an unprecedented journey. Audiences set out to sea with the patrol of U-96 - one of the famed German U-boats that prowled the North Atlantic challenging the British Navy at every turn - and faced an astonishing series of life-and-death struggles as the scared, exhausted and desperately courageous crew blasted away in battle, dove to untested depths, and were evading depth charges in an all-out effort not so much to win the war as to return home to their families and loved ones.

Over the next 15 years, DAS BOOT remained on many "top films of all time" lists and has been cited by many filmmakers, including Steven Spielberg, as a primary influence on the intensity, technological superiority and visceral excitement of the contemporary action-adventure film. So why try to make a classic better?

In this case, the answer is because it was clearly possible due in part to the unusual way in which the motion picture was originally shot. Back in the early 1980s, director Wolfgang Petersen wrote and filmed DAS BOOT with two aims in mind: to create a major motion picture for international release and to simultaneously create a six-hour epic for German television.

Under the distribution constraints of the time, Wolfgang Petersen and editor Hannes Nikel produced a cut for international theatrical release that went on to win critical acclaim and break box-office records. But Petersen always felt the film could be even stronger. And the more than a million feet of footage originally shot gave him an unprecedented opportunity.

Says Petersen: "I always thought that even though the film version I delivered worked well it would be wonderful to one day go back and cut my own ideal version -- to ask what is the best way for me tell the story of DAS BOOT based purely on creative rather than commercial considerations. The fact that we had all this material in our hands made this a very rare possibility."

What are the critics saying about Das Boot: The Director's Cut?

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