Thursday, May 17, 2012

Chat: Das Boot

Note: Although I don't think it matters to the chat, I watched the theatrical version because that's what we agreed upon; Tracy was saddled with the director's cut by Netlfix.

Tracy:  You know, I don' think I'd get super drunk the night before I was going to be on a submarine for multiple months.

 Natalie:  That's EXACTLY what I was thinking that whole opening scene! The last thing I want is to be hungover in a tight space that's submerged in water.

 Tracy:  Yeah. Gross. I don't know really where to start with this one. I didn't hate it as much as I thought I would, but I don't think it's that amazing either. It almost reminded me of Jarhead with the whole "war is mundane . . . until it isn't" thing, and then the overwrought ironic ending was pure cheese.

 Natalie:  I didn't hate it but I wasn't drawn in. Maybe I should have watched it in a closet with the heat turned on because I didn't really feel much of the tension except in the obviously tense moments (who wants to get hit with a bolt that has burst from the wall?) but I felt it should have been tense for the entirety. It's a thing to be in such tight quarters that you don't even get your own bed and crabs spread like wildfire while you're constantly damp and low on air. By the time they stop in Spain, I was over it. I figured they wouldn't live from the beginning so it just became a waiting game of when they would die. Not even that really because what else is the movie going to show if not them so I knew they'd have to wait until the end of the film to die.

 Tracy:  Right! There were some moments (like the bolt and the boat getting rammed all to hell by depth chargers) where I thought, huh, that's an unpleasant way to make a living, but I thought Wages of Fear did the whole tension thing better. And I wish, perhaps for the first time ever, that there had been more exposition. I couldn't figure out if, when they were descending lower than they were supposed to, if they could actually feel the pressure physically or if the dudes were wincing because they were scared.

 Natalie:  Yes! I could have used more exposition, too. The descent was lost on me because I have no clue how low those things can go. And, I read later that the submarine crews were some of the least political of the Nazi forces so that explains why they're not all Hurrah, Hitler. But I don't think the film does a great job of giving us the background information needed. Apparently the author of the book on which this was based was not happy with the adaptation, thinking the actors were overacting and the moments of camaraderie were disrespectful; but he wanted something like a 6-8 hour version. I could have done with a few more moments of humanity. The kid giving the love letters over so they could be delivered and then having them returned to him was heartbreaking--because I assumed he was dead in the water anyway. But I brought that to the film with my assumption that the kid would die. So, yeah, exposition and more moments like that would have pulled me in more.

 Tracy:  That's true! I think I wrote a note "dead meat with the French fiancee." And she's pregnant? With a half-German kid? And he's not even there to help her out after the war? Her life is over. I kind of wish the movie was about her. And that's interesting about the crews in general--I thought the movie was pretty apolitical, but I thought that might have just been more about the isolation of it. I like that it's historically accurate--but yeah, we need to know that. And maybe why. And after they get the boat off the bottom of the sea and are all like "we're going to be fine now and live such happy lives!" I was like okay, here's where the guy responsible for Air Force One is starting to show. could you project a tragic end more clumsily?

 Natalie:  I would have liked that movie better--I like things about France in the war. And then when the reporter finds the dead captain and was so freaking awkward and melodramatic? Ugh.

 Tracy:  So awkward!

 Natalie:  So, the book likes it because “Das Boot was nominated for six Academy Awards, a “mission impossible” for any foreign film. Capturing in authentic claustrophobic detail the sights and, most notably, the sounds of underwater warfare, the film sidelines issues of nationalism to focus on the dangerous task of manning a submarine in war-torn waters.”

 Tracy:  Well, it was in fact dangerous. And the sound thing was cool--I didn't realize sonar could pick up human voices. Actually, i didn't realize that from the movie. I "realized" it after my father told me that's why they were whispering. Exposition! I think it's decent, but could have been better. I wouldn't boot (no pun intended) it, but more because it seems to be sort of a seminal war film.

 Natalie:  I guessed that's why they were quiet but telling us would be helpful. And they had a built-in reason to add exposition--little reporter dude didn't have a clue what's going on. They gave us some when he first boarded but then no more. Yeah, fine, I'd keep it but now I'm more interested in it for other reasons like these the book gives:  “Much of the nerve-shattering realism of Das Boot is due to the three scale-model U-boats built for the production. Taking up a large portion of the film’s $14 million budget, they were later used in Raiders of the Lost Ark. As much a sonic as a visual experience, the entire film was shot silent; it was impossible to record live in the submarine interiors. The subtitled version is considered definitive, with all German and English dialogue added later—many of the German actors dubbing their own voices for the spoken English version.”

 Tracy:  See, now THAT'S interesting! And also makes me want to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark.

 Natalie:  Yes! That's an excellent movie (also on the list)!
So we begrudgingly keep it. Next up, gangsters? I think that's what Point Blank is about.

 Tracy:  I keep reading "Point Break" whenever I see that. Yes! Should be a change of pace!

 Natalie:  Ha! Me, too.

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