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Das Boot: 10 Things You Didn’t Know

Das_boot 1.    In 1981, DAS BOOT was the most expensive German film ever made. At a cost of about 30 million Deutsche Marks (about $40 million US in today’s dollars), the crew worked for two years and exposed more than a million feet of film. source

2.    With “Das Boot”, director Wolfgang Petersen set out to create a major motion picture for international release and to simultaneously create a six-hour epic for German television. source

3.    Cinematographer Jost Vocano shot more than 90% of the film with a hand-held Arriflex rigged with a special steadying gyroscopic mount (in effect a precursor to the Steadicam).  (Los Angeles Times April 3, 1997, Thursday, Home Edition)

4.    Petersen refused to let his actors take other jobs during the nine months of shooting and wouldn’t even let them go out and spend a day in the sun for fear they’d lose their pale faces. (Los Angeles Times April 3, 1997, Thursday, Home Edition)

5.    The production, a two-year enterprise, featured a 250-person crew and employed two authentically reconstructed, full-scale submarines, three smaller replicas and a 16-foot-high rocking machine (dubbed the Whipler), which simulated adverse underwater conditions.  source

6.    Though the full-size model of the U-96 was constructed with retractable walls that allowed “someone to sit back comfortably in a chair with a cigar in his mouth and say, ‘Action,’ ” the director insisted on shooting in the enclosed space to ensure reality.  “I wanted to force the cameraman to shoot the whole film in this tube,” he explained. “I wanted the audience not to see this as decoration but to feel that we are all together in this boat for months and months.”  (Los Angeles Times April 3, 1997, Thursday, Home Edition)

7.    The filming was done in sequence, so that by the finale the actor’s faces authentically reflected the toll of living and working in a terribly cramped space.  (Los Angeles Times April 3, 1997, Thursday, Home Edition)

8.    Petersen wrote the script based on the real memoirs of war correspondent Lothar-Guenther Buchheim. source

9.    Das Boot’s” submarine model did double duty for Steven Spielberg’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. source

10.    Grönemeyer, the war correspondent, went on to become the Bruce Springsteen of Germany. source

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