Top 10 War Movies

Erwin Leder in Das Boot

Das Boot (1981, Wolfgang Peterson) — World War II
Some war movies are admirable for dressing WW II clichés in a new uniform. Das Boot takes another plunge into the black pool of memory and finds — surprise! — flinty nobility. Actually, no surprise for anyone who feasted on the submarine movies of the 1950s. Here is the dogged captain (Jurgen Prochnow), navigating the straits of political bureaucracy and a bungling high command. Here is the wild-eyed wraith of the engine room (Erwin Leder), who "cracks" during one crisis, then performs heroically in the next. Here are the hide-and-seek battles, the claustrophobic tensions, the respect for a valiant enemy. The novelty here is getting the inside German view. Das Boot has thrills aplenty; it moves full speed ahead through its 2½-hr. running time. Of the 40,000 U-boat men in World War II, 28,000 were killed, and the film is careful to emphasize the fatal futility of all this derring-do. Still, the movie holds a lesson for American audiences raised on movies about the beastly Germans. It shows that some of the bad guys were good guys too.

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