"Das Boot" is the most successful anti-war movie ever made in Germany. The story about the crew of a submarine, who have to suffer physically and mentally due to the war without showing propaganda and glory, is very interesting, even today. The story faces the audience with the senselessness and savageness of the war.
There are several versions of this film: the original Theatrical Cut, which is the shortest of all versions. A lot of footage is missing in the TC. Another version is the Director's Cut which was made later. The DC contains a lot the scenes that were removed in the TC. Last but not least, there's the so called German TV Version which was made during the production for TV and is devided into four episodes. With a total running time of almost 5 hrs. is the TV Version the longest version of all. It's also THE version of the film, not only for fans, because this version is the only one which is absolutely complete. In the meantime, the TV Version is also available on DVD in Germany, but the episodes were added to one complete film. As a result of that, the flashbacks are gone, and the credits only appear once. But that's it, so that this DVD release can be considered as the ultimate version available on DVD.
To speed up the plot, a lot of scenes are shortened in the DC. Furthermore a lot of shots (1 second or less) are removed. Considering the running time of almost 5 hrs. there's a tremendous difference in the running time of each version. Details seperately at the end of this camparison to explain the remaining difference.
Compared are the German TV Version, released on DVD by Euro Video, and the Director's Cut, released on DVD by Columbia.
Opening credits + In La Rochelle
The first attack
In the storm
The second attack
Disaster near Gibraltar
Return + Credits
Comparison of the images (the image details of the 4th one are different):
First of all, I'd like to mention that Leutnant Werner's thoughts can be heard from time to time via voice-over in the TV Version. He's the major character and he lets the viewer know what he thinks in several scenes. In opposite to that, there's no voice-over in the DC. As a result of that, the DC has a lack of information and atmosphere. This happens from the beginning to the ending, that's why it's mentioned here.
Opening credits + In La Rochelle
The DC also contains the Columbia logo and some people in charge, which increases the running time of the DC in this scene.
The text about the political situation and the loss of seamen is in German in the TV Version, but in the DC, it's in English. Furthermore the content is slightly different, more emotional in the DC (that's why it's extended in the DC). The font size is different as well.
Extra shot of the information about director Wolfgang Petersen and author Lothar-Günther Buchheim in the TV Version. It pops up right after the title of the film. In the DC, it's combined with the scene afterwards.
Extended shot of the coast of La Rochelle at night.
[0:02:21]-[0:02:26] und [0:02:34]-[0:02:39]
Extended shot of the Captain, Lt. Werner and the Chief Engineer in the car.
Again an extended shot of the Captain and Lt. Werner, and the ride continues.
Shorter shot of the urinating sailors.
The "Singer" begins with her show in the Bar Royale, the crowd's cheering. Various shots of her and the band.
The 2nd Lieutnant touches a hooker's breasts, she slaps him for that. Unimpressed of that, he turns around to Lt. Werner and asks him to come with him.
[-1 min 10 sec]
A further song of the "Singer". She walks around in the crwod of officers till she arrives at Lt. Werner. She tries to hit on him but he explains that he's going to be needed by the Führer. So she leaves and the 2nd Lieutnant talks Lt. Werner in to chug a drink. He also asks the Lieutnant if that was his first trip. He agrees, the 2nd Lietunant hopes that the last will was already being written because 13 nuclear boats had drowned the month before.
[-1 min 17 sec]
The complete sequence that shows one of the mates of U 96 saying goodbye to his french girlfriend is missing.
[-2 min 17 sec]
Thomsen gets scared by the phone and is angry about his tension. After that he talks to the Captain about non-functional torpedos and Thomsen mentions that it could be sabotage. Then they change the subject and talk about Captain Kelsch, whose nuclear submarine was dumped near Gibraltar. The Captain says that it wasn't a good year for the old guard. Thomsen talks sceptically about a possibly victory. The Captain explains that they were going to leave the following day, Thomsen wishes him luck and goes to the loo because he's planning to go to the whorehouse.
Another scenes shows the mate of U 96 leaving his girlfriend's house.
[0:20:04]-[0:20:10] und [0:20:20]-[0:22:20]
[-2 min 6 sec]
Extended shot and different angles of the departure of U 96. The Captain notices a waving girl with his binoculars. He passes the binoculars to Lt. Werner and wants to know if she's waving to him. But he denies and asks if that wasn't a restricted area. The Captain replies that it was supposed to be restricted. In the meanwhile, the mate recognizes his girlfriend. Then the departure of U 96 again.
A further shot of the departure of U 96.
Missing dissolve from Thomsen to the sub on the high sea. A part of the shot itself is also missing.
To sum up:
In this part of the film, 6 minutes und 51 seconds are missing.
Extended shot of Lt. Werner on deck when the Captain's left.
The conversation during the officers' mess is tightened. Several shots at dinner, which specifically means the contrast to 1st Lieutenant and his posh eating manners are also tightened. Last but not least, the other officers' reactions are tightened as well.
[-2 min 14 sec]
After the 1st Lieutenant's left, the 1st Navigator and his guard arrive and report about the weather conditions and that nothing had happened yet, then he sqeezes past. Afterwards, a shot of the nuclear boat from the outside and Lt. Werner comments the first day.
In the next morning, the Captain surveils the lookout while the position is being determined. He warns that the tommies knew their position because there were enough spies like hookers or shipyard workers. He notices a seagull and starts complaining about them, then he notices sb. at the lookout who seems to be half asleep. That's why he reproaches him. The Captain also mentions that he had seen the sailor in La Rochelle before he returns to his duty.
[-2 min 47 sec]
The Captain talks to Lt. Werner. Suddenly U 96 is being attacked by a British airplane. The sub dives immediately but nervetheless it gets hit by bombs, which shake it thoroughly. When the attack is over, the Captain goes back to business as usual.
Change of scenery. A shot of U 96 at night, the mates are in their cabin. They talk about their sexual experiences and fantasies. One of them tells about a hooker who urinated on his back, another one explains how to make sb. fart with a string, a nail and a cork. Then everybody goes to sleep.
The conversation between Lt. Werner and the mate is shortened.
Lt. Werner makes a note in his diary.
Missing shot of the officers during dinner.
[-1 min 48 sec]
The Captain asks the 1st Lieutenant for the current advice in the calendar. He comes up with sth. by Cicero, but they don't get it. Then a special announcement in the radio, full of propaganda, about how the marine achieves progress. The Captain is upset about that because it degrages his profession.
Lt. Werner mentions that he judged the Captain wrong, the Captain absolutely agrees.
[-2 min 12 sec]
Lt. Werner arrives at the lookout. Suddenly an air raid warning, everybody goes in position, the thin rain gets knocked down accidentally. The sub dives at once, everybody's waiting for what's coming next, but nothing happens. The Captain concludes that either they weren't noticed by the airplane or it was a seagull.
U 96 moves on at night, the men wait for a radio message by the operator, who starts to deal with his plant again afterwards. The 2nd Lieutenant decodes the message, passes it on to the Captain who just agrees by nodding. They return to the operator who has to disaapoint them because there's no message for them again.
[-4 min 48 sec]
U 96 travels while it's black as midnight. Lt. Werner makes comments about the gloomy trip. It's almost quite, everybody does his job, the thin rain distributes some coffee to beware the others of falling asleep. Lt. Werner sees the Captain reading a letter. The 2nd Lieutenant explains that the Captain was engaged with a nazi bitch, the others come up with some jokes about that kind of woman. But then, the 1st Lieutenant arrives.
U 96 moves forward, it's very foggy. Kriechbaum complains about the trip itself, that it was very lame and they were cut off from the outside world. Lt. Werner asks him about his family and Kriechbaum shows him a picture of his children. Johann arrives at the lookout. After being asked, he explains to Lt. Werner that he didn't like the fresh air, then he leaves. Kriechbaum mentions that machinists were weirdos.
[-2 min 26 sec]
U 96 at sunset. The Captain goes to the engine room, asks Johann about the diesel and tells him about the Chief Engineer's worries about the oil consumption. Then they start talking about the war and the government's need of heroes and that the government sticks at nothing. The Captain leaves and Johann continues with his work.
[-1 min 27 sec]
Lt. Werner runs out of the torpedo room and one of the sailors makes an insulting gesture. The one who's in charge of the torpedos can hardly resist to laugh. Lt. Werner cries and thinks about the mellowing daily routine on board. In the meantime, one of the machinists plays with an improvised yoyo and starts swearing when it gets damaged.
Both versions contain different footage here: U 96 at night in the TV Version, U 96 at dawn in the DC.
[-1 min 54 sec]
Awkward silence in the mates' cabins. One mate tells another one that he was jerking off on a black man's shoes once. The change of guards interrupts this silence when sb. opens the door. At the same time, Lt. Werner makes further notes in his diary.
[-2 min 5 sec]
One of the sailors finds out that the 1st Lieutenant uses to shave regularly (which is actually a taboo among men on a sub). The sailor's angry about that and reports to the others. He's so stressed that he starts messing with Jehova's Witness and finally, he starts beating him up so that the others are forced to stop him. Absolutely frustated, he damns that trip.
Extended shot of Lt. Werner's notes in his diary.
Lt. Werner is exhausted.
Extended shot of the Captain who looks pretty thoughtful. Afterwards, he's been noticed by a sailor in the tower while checking the surface with a periscope.
To sum up:
In this part of the film, 26 minutes and 54 seconds are missing.
The first attack
Extended shot of the Chief Engineer watching after the sailor before he keeps on working.
[-1 min 20 sec]
The weather changes and the Captain doesn't like it. Furthermore Berthold hasn't contacted them yet, so they start speculating if they got dumped. The Captain talks about the British's new strategy, then he comes up with a joke to relax the others.
Extended shot of U 96 from the outside.
[-1 min 2 sec]
The light in the base turns on again. In the first torpedo room, the men get up again after being hit by another bomb.
Missing shot of Lt. Werner.
Extended shot of U 96 passing by.
Longer shot of the clock.
[1:48:26]-[1:48:33] und [1:48:42]-[1:48:48]
The surfacing of U 96 actually takes longer. It's also missing that U 96 remains longer at the surface while Lt. Werner's passing a comment.
To sum up:
In this part of the film, 2 minutes and 5 seconds are missing.
In the storm
The "banana dancing sequence" continues. Change of scenery, an officer walks to the engine room. The Captain gets informed about the status of the diesel while he's being informed that U 48 contacted them. He leaves, Johann and the Chief Engineer take care of the diesel.
A shot of U 96 is missing.
After the 1st Lieutenant has left, the officers start talking. The Captain bets that they're close to the convoy. He also wonders why Berthold doesn't report, rumors say that he drowned. The storm is very noisy, the Captain mentions that they didn't need that at the moment. He adds that Lt. Werner gets his money's worth which makes everybody laugh.
U 96 is in the middle of the storm, the boat is shaking. While Lt. Werner's having trouble with these circumstances, the others seem to enjoy it.
The sea is blustering, the men in the lookout have problems to keep steady, but one of them tells Lt. Werner that the weather was absolutely terrific.
[-1 min 1 sec]
Lt. Werner sacks ou. Silence everywhere, almost everybody sleeps.
[-2 min 4 sec]
U 96 dives, the men try to clobber time with sleeping or reading. Lt. Werner makes notes in his diary again when Frenzen starts farting, which upsets the injured Pilgrim. Lt. Werner thinks about the glumness and how it starts to make them weak, step by step.
Further shots of the men vegging out.
[-2 min 57 sec]
The storm's waned, the officers are annoyed by the 1st Lieutenant's type writer when they get informed by an announcement, that there's no message for them again. Slightly later, they hear a report about air strikes in Hamburg and Cologne. The Chief Engineer leaves because his wife lives in Cologne. Lt. Werner talks to him, because he also has relatives there, and the Chief Engineer replies that his fiancée had died two months ago. At the same time, the Captain tries to calm the Chief Engineer down.
To sum up:
In this part of the film, 10 minutes and 13 seconds are missing.
The second attack
Longer shot of U 96 at dawn.
While the destroyer's searching for them, Johann controls the diesel and a sailor checks out the floors.
Shot of the distracted men in the first torpedo room after the attack.
Shot of the men in the torpedo room when the attack has stopped. They can hear the arriving destroyer.
[-1 min 6 sec]
Longer conversation between the Captain and Lt. Werner about fixing the sub and about the Chief Engineer's performing miracles. One of the workers in the torpedo room arrives, he reports that the torpedo room were repaired and all pipes reloaded.
[2:56:34]-[2:56:48] and [2:56:51]-[2:57:48]
[-1 min 14 sec]
The Captain explains to Lt. Werner that nuclear subs didn't have the luxury to pick up castaways and it was an ugly war.
Both version contain different footage when U 96 returns. In the TV Version, the sub's at sunset. In opposite to that, the DC shows the sub at night.
To sum up:
In this part of the film, 3 minutes and 58 seconds are missing.
[-2 min 21 sec]
The Captain calls the 1st Lieutenant and shows the decoded message to him, he wants him to check on the map. Then he goes to Lt. Werner, the Chief Engineer and the 2nd Lieutenant and explains that they had to move to Italy and they were going to be refueled in Spain. Everybody's aware of the fact that this is going to be the hell of Gibraltar, and they're everything but glad about it.
The shot of U 96 at sunset is shortened.
[-1 min 4 sec]
Lt. Werner thinks about everybody's disappointment and fear and how they try to handle it. He watches a conversation between the 1st helmsman and another mate, who tries to block the questions about the neutrality of Spain. Then Werner notices sth. while he's watching through the bulkhead and walks over there.
[-1 min 7 sec]
Extended shot of Lt. Werner and the one in love. Change of scenery. Lt. Werner thinks about their destination Vigo (Spain) and if they were going to be welcome or not. After that Lt. Werner makes another note in his diary which can also be read.
Extended shot of the panorama of Vigo.
[-1 min 24 sec]
The Captain commands to gather speed which is also confirmed. Kriechbaum says that a lot of stuff was going on while they're arriving. The Captain replies sarcastically they had to be careful not to hit sb. Kriechbaum says that would be sth. new. In the meantime the one in love passes the letters to Lt. Werner, who's supposed to pass them through to "the one".
U 96 starts sailing through. Everybody waits if the right boat's been found, U 96 passes the next boats. Suddenly Kriechbaum recognizes the right one which sends the agreed signal, the Captain commands to decelerate.
Extended shot of the waiting officers.
An officer climbs up the ladder.
Lt. Werner admits that he had never been in the Mediterranean before. The Captain lectures him that they had lost three subs recently and that he had a bad feeling.
[-1 min 48 sec]
The officers have fun and the 2nd Lieutenant performs his legendary "water bomb trick" with some punch. The Captain, who saw that from outside, mentions that they'd rather leave because it wasn't their fairway.
U 96 leaves the dock and dives.
To sum up:
In this part of the film, 10 minutes and 10 seconds are missing.
Disaster near Gibraltar
Shot of U 96 from the outside at dawn in the TV Version, panorama view at sunrise in the DC.
The 2nd Lieutenant tries to make fun of Gibraltar, but he stops pretty fast when he becomes aware of the current situation.
Arabian flute music plays in the background. The Captain says that it was Arabian Week and he "gave hisself flute courage", which makes everybody laugh.
[-2 min 5 sec]
First an extended shot of U 96. Then a cut to the lookout where the Captain appears, he begins to check the foggy spot as well. He says that it wasn't far anymore. Below deck the Chief Engineer is very nervous while he's rechecking. He goes almost berserk when sb. accidentally drops sth. Finally, the lookout reports sighting and everybody watches in that direction plus a further distance shot of the sub.
[-1 min 18 sec]
The men hear the Captain's humming while he's giving orders. The Chief Engineer mentions that he was in his element. Shot of U 96 which disappears in the fog. Then the first torpedo room, a sailor juggles with some oranges while the thin rain's checking the salad.
Lt. Werner sees another team mate preparing his stuff.
The team mates' reactions about the fact, that the sub's not sinking anymore, are missing. And the beginning of Johann's inspection of the diesel is also missing.
Parts of the stressful attempts to seal the sub are missing. The defect of the diving rudder is announced.
The Captain looks thoughtfully to the base while the sub's apparently falling apart. It seems to be too much for Lt. Werner.
The wounded Kriechbaum gets medical treatment. In the meanwhile, the others still try to save the sub. It's too much for Lt. Werner, so he takes a seat. He's asked if there was any chance by another mate. He doesn't know but he tries to take the initiative.
[-1 min 46 sec]
The Captain and the 1st Lieutenant talk about their strategy how to find airplanes. The 1st Lieutenant remembers the rumors about a new British tracking system. The Captain cynically mentions that it was true and that he wondered what was going to be under those circumstances. Then a part of the scene in the torpedo room.
Johann and Lt. Werner keep on repairing the leaks in the torpedo room.
The search for the wire continues.
[-1 min 5 sec]
The Captain offers a sandwich to the Chief Engineer, but he rejects it, drinks sth. instead and comes up with some commentaries about the fixing. Cut to the medic and Kriechbaum who still gets medical treatment. Another cut to the exhausted mates of the bucket brigade.
The Chief Engineer beats his way and asks Johann about the status of the machines while the others around him keep on scooping water.
Shot of the machine room, the sailors got rid off the water. One of them gets up to report to the others in the front and the Captain.
The last buckets are being stammed.
The medic rests longer before the Captain arrives.
Extended shot of the Captain in the base.
The Captain breaks his way through the diesel.
[-1 min 44 sec]
The Captain checks some reparations, finally he enters the torpedo room. He compliments the team, then they hear some noises by a destroyer. The Captain says that the tommies were celebrating their drowning. He also mentions that they shouldn't celebrate too early because they weren't dead yet.
Shot of Lt. Werner after the Captain's left. One of the mates is being woken up by him because he wants to tell him about the surfacing. The mate can't believe it.
To sum up:
In this part of the film, 15 minutes and 2 seconds are missing.
Return + Credits
The mates keep on drinking at the antedated christmas party. Brückenwilli and Dufte talk about sex again and about how they are going to have sex as soon as they're ashore. The others find that very amusing. Cut to the diesel machine room. A machinist finds the sleeping Chief Engineer (who wasn't woken up by the bumping).
The Captain talks to the operator, he comes up with some cynical comments about christmas.
[+2 min 53 sec]
The credits are completely different in both versions. For the DC, new credits were designed.
The TV Version shows an image of the film title at first, then Wolfgang Petersen and Lothar-Günther Buchheim are mentioned, then the cast list and the other credits moving slowly to the top of the image. Finally the producers, Südfunk and WDR are mentioned. The credits are in German, the original, slow "Boot" track is running in the background.
In the DC, Buchheim's name doesn't pop up and the credits start with a lot of mentions in big letters. The slowly-moving credits to the top of the image start in the middle. At the end of the credits, the publisher Columbia is mentioned. The credits are in English and the "Boot" track is extended (in comparison to the TV Version).
Due to these modifications, the credits of the DC are running longer.
To sum up:
In this part of the film, the DC runs 8 seconds longer (due to the credits).
Running time Director's Cut: 3:19:00
Running time German TV Version: 4:42:00
75 minutes und 5 seconds are missing because of cuts and 7 minutes und 55 seconds because of further tightening up.