The Theme Of Failure As Presented In Das Boot

1061 words - 5 pages

The Theme of Failure as Presented in Das Boot

  "When 'Das Boot' was first released in the United States, its running time was 145 minutes, and it won huge audiences and no less that six Oscar nominations-unheard of for a foreign film." The genius of Wolfgang Petersen's "Das Boot" is that to Americans it is considered a foreign film indeed; not only in the sense that the film is from Germany, but because the film offers a unique perspective of World War Two, the German perspective. This point of view allows American audiences to walk away from theaters and be impacted by themes which are common in the cinematic industry. However, because the film is the story of a German submarine, ...view middle of the document...

When the Captain is triumphant, so too is Germany.


Under no circumstances can the men onboard the U-96 fail. They are literally trapped in the boat, and all mistakes quickly lead to the same fatal end. Whether the Captain mistakenly surfaces and has the periscope spotted by an enemy ship, or Johan abandons his post in the engine room, the consequence each time is disastrous. Every sailor on the boat depends on one another to perform his duties satisfactorily. When the boat is stranded on the bottom of the Straight of Gibraltar, all of the sailors work until they are no longer of any use. The Chief Engineer toils particularly hard, as he is the only man who can restore power by draining the flooded batteries. Even when the Captain suggests for him to rest a while he still refuses. Eventually the sailors succeed in lifting the boat from the bottom. The Germans succeed because every one does his job to completion, no one quits.


The war effort of the Allies is represented in two separate events. The first occurs when the U-boat is under attack from a destroyer's depth charges. When experiencing the most severe attack, the boat is shaken violently time after time by enemy explosives. During the attack the Captain is impressed by the destroyer's efforts, which symbolizes the Allies. "Not bad for a beginner!" he exclaims. Although acknowledging the skill of the destroyer's captain, the Captain at the same time is ridiculing the overall Allied offensive. To him the Allied sailor's skills are inferior compared to his own. Whereas he would be able to hit his target, the Allied man is not. Therefore, although a good effort is made by the Allies, their attacks still end in failure.


The second personification of the Allied forces are the men who are left aboard the burning oil tanker. When the Captain delivers the final blow to a disabled tanker, he looks through his binoculars in horror to find that there are still sailors on board. Infuriated he screams: "What are they doing still on board? Why haven't...

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