Das Boots – Editing

Editing is the most powerful aspect of a film’s storytelling.  It can change everything about how an audience receives and translates the story.  I thought the most intriguing aspect of Das Boot was the editing — not just during the climax, but all throughout. During the scenes when the crew would try and save themselves, hurrying throughout the submarine to make sure they were safe, the editing was especially useful in making the tension and fear real.

In addition, the editing between close composed shots gives the sense of a very confined space. While watching the film I felt as though I was in an enclosed space, and could really identify with the men on the sub. I believe this added a layer to the watching experience and helped me understand the characters; more so than I expected, because of the movie being German.

 In regards to the Kuleshov Effect, Das Boot takes advantage of its use, often cutting back and forth between several different shots to show the slowing of time in especially tense moments.  Everyone on the sub would feel the same fear and desire to stay alive, and so cutting between characters doing different tasks while in danger was quite effective. As a filmmaker, it was very easy to notice how clever the editing was in this film!

I really enjoyed watching Das Boots for two reasons. Reason 1 –  It is a foreign war movie, giving it a different look, feel, and perspective than American made war films. Reason 2 – It is very well done, concerning production value and creation of the atmosphere. (I would imagine filming a submarine movie, would have its challenges.) After watching the movie, when I began to reflect on it, preparing to review it and post for the class. I then discovered that there was conflict surrounding the novelist Buchheim and his reaction to the film. Reports state that he believed the film was not realistic. Apparently, the main points of contention surrounded the crewmen acting and behaving unprofessional. For example: the crew are far too loud during their patrols and especially unprofessional when they celebrate after getting a torpedo hit.

(Above is a picture of novelist Lothar-Günther Buchheim, when he was a U-boat correspondent.)

I am not sure about how all of you feel, but these did not seem to stand out to me. But, I also have never been on a submarine or participated in naval combat either. I, as an audience member understand and was cheering along with them after the torpedo hit; this reaction seems very natural to me, not unprofessional. Actually, this reaction coincides with other submarine films such as The Hunt for the Red October, U-571, and K-19: The Widowmaker; in which the ensemble function as a team, mourn the loss of fallen comrades and celebrate victories, together. Das Boots is now among one of my favorite war movies. However, the only aspect of the film I did not enjoy was the feeling of the enclosed space. It did bring along with it a sense of authenticity though, as I could feel a little claustrophobic at times.

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