Chronicling one German U-Boat's perilous search-and-destroy mission as the tide has turned toward the Allied cause, Peterson's brilliant "Das Boot" has a claustrophobic immediacy. All the prevailing fear and pressure are etched on the brow of sub Captain Lehmann-Willenbrock (Prochnow), who nevertheless perseveres in his duty. All around him are the tense faces of young, inexperienced men doing their duty. Along with their Captain, most of them realize that even if they are lucky enough to cheat death, Germany's defeat is inevitable.
Originally a 210-minute German mini-series edited down to feature length, "Boot" feels hauntingly real, and works as an anti-war piece precisely because it is seen from the losing side. German actor Prochnow turns in an intense and affecting portrayal of the boat's desperate captain. The film's other star — Peterson's camera — roves through the sub fluidly, never allowing the viewer a breath of escape or boredom. Nominated for six Oscars (unusual for a foreign film), "Das Boot" is a masterful achievement. Board this boat.