FILM 1473: DAS BOOT
TRIVIA: Originally filmed in German, all of the major actors could speak English. When the movie was dubbed into English for USA and UK distribution, all of the principal actors actually dubbed their own voices into English.
The bulk of the film's $15 million budget was spent on constructing U-boats. Specifications for the original Type VII-C U-boat were found at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. The plans were taken to the original builder of the subs, who was commissioned to build a full-sized, sea-going replica, their first such assignment since the war ended. A second full-sized model was built for interior filming.
The submarine models built for Das Boot were also the ones used in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
Because the original TV mini-series was severely criticized in Germany for portraying World War II Germans sympathetically, the producer greeted the first American showing of the film at the Los Angeles Film Festival with great trepidation. They weren't sure how a former enemy nation in that war would react to the film, especially in a city with a large Jewish population, and their fears were reinforced when the audience applauded the opening caption saying 30,000 of 40,000 German men that went into war in submarines didn't come back. However, when it ended, the audience gave the film a standing ovation in appreciation of the artistry of the filmmakers.
The cast was deliberately kept indoors continually during the shooting period in order to look as pale as a real submarine crew would on a mission at sea.
The full-scale model was little more than a hollow shell with an engine, and could be used only in calm waters. While it was being filmed in rougher weather, it cracked in two and sank. It was later recovered, patched with wood planks and used for the final shots.
The picture was nominated for six Academy Awards which was at the time the highest number of Oscar nominations ever received by a foreign language film. The record has since being beaten by such films as Life Is Beautiful (1997) and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000).
Steadicams were not yet in use during the production of the movie. In order to get the fast tracking shots through the U-boat without a shaky image, director of photography Jost Vacano created a system of heavy gyroscopes together with his father that kept the camera steady as he ran through the hallways. The set of the U-boat had intentionally been built slightly bigger to give Vacano more room to work. Even so, as he had to look through the camera, he had to wear a helmet because he would regularly bump his head.
One of the few foreign language films that is primarily referred to on the American market by its original foreign title rather than its translated English title.
With production costs of 31 million DM, it was for a long time the most expensive German movie ever made. It was beaten in 2006 by Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006), which, however, was a German-French-Spanish co-production shot in English.