18 October 2001 | hartmut_berger
A film with a bad reputation - undeserved
This film was the first to have its premiere after Hitler became Reichskanzler (prime minister), so it is not a nazi film by itself but produced and censored before. The owner of the producing company (Hugenberg) was head of the monarchist DNVP (german nationalist peoples party), so the makers views displayed in the film are 'compatible' with the context (imperial Germany in WW1).The sometimes stilted way of talking is oldfashioned but authentic or even moderated(see below). The technical accurateness of the film is stunning (a hallmark of german sub movies). The warships are real (german T-boats equal to WW1 destroyers, a light cruiser and the last riveted german sub design based on a war type). The events in the film are based on specific real cases or (as the rumour spreading in the village) 'true to original'. E.g. the sinking of the cruiser en route to Russia resembles the death of Lord Kitchener, whose ship was sunk either by a mine layed by a sub or by a subs torpedo (unclear because the sub never returned home). The encounter with the Q-boat and the scene with more men than Tauchretter (emergency diving gear) 'everybody or nobody!' happened several times in reality. So this film is probably the most realistic sub movie ever made. But the film gained a very bad reputation, because nazi propaganda used it for its own purposes (including glorifying heroic death). Goebbels ordered one cut to be made: After the successful sinking of the cruiser the sub commanders mother (Adele Sandrock) refuses to celebrate with the officials because 'So many innocent people were killed just because they did their duty as our people do.They too had relatives now mourning the losses.So we should not gloat but thank god that this time our relatives will come back alive.'. This seemed unacceptable, so this scene was removed. After the war it was put back and another scene got removed: On one occasion, when the commander is forced to hold a patriotic speech he says 'About once a century a country needs a great war like a cleaning thunderstorm to stay united and not to become decadent'. Both cuts I consider as questionable. While it is quite doubtful if any common person in WWI would have said that killing the enemy is nothing to celebrate (so the film ist more moderate than reality instead of vice versa), the opinion 'too long peace results in especially nasty wars' was common and has some of truth in it. Conclusion: This film should be shown without cuts but maybe with some background information. It is in my opinion the best Sub movie made in Germany (far superior to 'Subs westward ho' [crude propaganda] and 'the boat' [even the books author complained about adulterations]),to say nothing of Hollywood junk like 'U 571'.