Das Boot

1981 film directed by Wolfgang Petersen

Das Boot ("The Boat") is a 1981 film about a German U-boat that stalks the frigid waters of the North Atlantic as its young crew experience the sheer terror and claustrophobic life of a submariner in World War II.

Directed and written by Wolfgang Petersen, based on the novel by Lothar G. Buchheim.
When the hunters become the hunted
They haven't spotted us! They're all snoring in their bunks! Or you know what? They're drinking in the bar! Celebrating our sinking! Not yet, my friends. Not yet!
The sea cannot claim us, Henrich. No ship is as seaworthy as ours.
The British have stopped making mistakes.


  • Okay, men, now listen. We're going to blow out the water now and see if we can get our rear ends out of the sand. If we make it to the surface, things could still get pretty rough. Traffic's heavy up there. And we have to pray the engines start, so we can get out of this mess. The condition the boat is in, we have got to head straight for La Rochelle. If we make it... it's half a bottle of beer for each! There is one thing on our side; they won't be expecting us. Well men, all set?
  • [After an alarm is sounded and an emergency dive is executed] April fool. Practice makes perfect.
  • Our patrol planes! Where are they? Answer that one, Herr Göring! The British have plenty of them! Talking big is all he's good for, that fat slob.
  • [during the storm] The sea cannot claim us, Henrich. No ship is as seaworthy as ours.
  • [escaping from the British] They haven't spotted us! They're all snoring in their bunks! Or you know what? They're drinking in the bar! Celebrating our sinking! Not yet, my friends. Not yet!
  • [Captain, looking at logbook] Our recent triumphs: Dived to evade enemy aircraft. Lost contact. Dived to evade destroyer. Depth charged. The British have stopped making mistakes.
  • [After a successful torpedo attack, and the sounds of the sinking ships fade away] Now it's their turn.

Captain Thomsen

  • Heil victory, and sink them all!

2nd Watch Officer

  • Mildew is good for you. It's the next best thing to fresh lettuce. Be thankful for what grows down here.
  • The boat is rated to 90 metres, but of course we can go deeper. There's a limit somewhere. We can only take so much pressure... before the boat will be crushed.


[Werner takes pictures of the watch officers on the conning tower]
Captain: Take pictures of the crew returning, not putting out to sea.
Lt. Werner: Why?
Captain: They'll have grown beards by then. It would shame the Tommies to see mere boys give them Hell. Baby faces. Ones that should still suck mama's breast. [pause] I feel ancient around these kids, like I'm on some Children's Crusade.

2nd Watch Officer: First time on U-boat?
Lt. Werner: Yeah. First time. It's gonna be exciting.
2nd Watch Officer: Do you have a will?
Lt. Werner: Excuse me?
2nd Watch Officer: 13 boats down last moth. Sank with men and mice. Exciting, huh?

Lt. Werner: What's going on? Why are we diving?
2nd Watch Officer: Hydrophone check. At sea, even in a storm you can hear more down here than you can see up there.

Captain: Phillip, the old bunch is gone. Look at these new heroes. All wind and smoke. Just big mouths.
Capt. Thomsen: Yeah, yeah. They keep together, balls in hand. And the belief in our Führer in their eyes.
Captain: They will know in time.

Captain: Not bad in here, is it? No mail, no telephone. Solid wood paneling. Well-ventilated boat. Free food, too. We're in clover here!
LI: Like fresh horse-droppings. They're rolling in clover as well. They have no need to make a living. They're even allowed to smoke!

Captain: [throwing his sou'wester down] God DAMNIT how can this happen?! A dozen boats we have in the Atlantic! From Greenland to the Azores, a mere dozen! But still we, we almost collide with one of our own! Something's wrong here...(turning to navigator) Checked on our position?
Navigator Kriechbaum: ...more or less Capt-
Captain: More or less?! More or less?! That's not GOOD ENOUGH!
Navigator Kriechbaum: Not one sunspot in two weeks. Difficult to calculate.
Captain: Yeah yeah... We make a few errors in our own position - the others do the same, and we end up playing collision games! Leaving the route wide open! [to Werner] I hope you're taking notes. Maybe clue HQ into what's happening.
Lt. Werner: Surely you have better connections than me.
Captain: You think so, huh?

Pilgrim: Tell me: Do you have hairs in your nose?
Frenssen: Why?
Pilgrim: Because I have some up my ass. We can tie them together.

[Crew is celebrating after escaping a destroyer attack. Bosun leaves the radio shack and enters the crew quarters, his face red with rage.]
Bosun: QUIET IN THIS WHOREHOUSE! Bad news, men.
Crew: What is wrong?
Bosun: Schalke has lost the game. Five-zero. No more chance of making the semi-finals.
Ario: [falling into despair] I can't believe this shit!

Capt. Thomsen: I... really wanted to screw my brains out. But now, I am in no condition to fuck!
Captain: It's alright!
Capt. Thomsen: Sieg Heil!

Johann: Captain, I wish to apologize.
Captain: You can't just apologize, Johann. You left your battle station at a critical moment. Also, you disobeyed my command.
Johann: Will I be court-martialed?
Captain: How many patrols have you done?
Johann: It's my ninth.
Captain: You, of all people, Johann.
Johann: It was a mistake. I didn't... It was... It... All of a sudden... As if... It won't ever happen again, sir. You can depend on it. I swear.
Captain: It's all right, Johann.
Johann: No court-martial?
Captain: [nods] Get some sleep.
[Johann exits. The Captain adds "Decision, return to La Rochelle" to the log book]

Lt. Werner: Captain?
Captain: I'm sorry.
Lt. Werner: You think it's hopeless now?
Captain: It's been 15 hours. He'll never do it. I'm sorry.
Lt. Werner: They made us all train for this day. "To be fearless and proud and alone. To need no one, just sacrifice. All for the Fatherland." Oh God, all just empty words. It's not the way they said it was, is it? I just want someone to be with. The only thing I feel is afraid.
  • In the German version, Werner's words at this place were: I wanted to stand before something relentless. Where no woman crosses our path, and no mother looks after us. Where only the reality reigns, cruel and large. I was drunk of this prospect. [sobs] Now this is the reality.


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