U-boats were often called “floating coffins” in the final years of World War II. The Allies sank 780 German submarines, and of the 31,000 U-boat drivers in total, 26,000 lost their lives serving in the Navy. But while the submarine weapon became increasingly blunt at the end of the war, the story “Das Boot” by former war correspondent Lothar-Günther Buchheim, which is based on his own experiences through his novel, the cinema adaptation by Wolfgang Petersen and the following TV series, is apparently forever unsinkable.
And what is even more astonishing: The third season of the newly launched series from Sky and Bavaria Studios, which will be broadcast on the pay-TV broadcaster from this Saturday, is really taking off with its ten episodes. The previous seasons were sold in over a hundred countries, the sequel is even more international.
However, it takes a long time before the command “full speed ahead” is given for the first time. Before that, the newly commissioned submarine and its crew of mostly inexperienced sailors, led by a captain who got this post mainly through political protection, only “shuttle” and “blow on” for practice. But of course it was again “Yes, 1 WO” for the first officer on watch, and Franz Dinda, alias Oberleutnant zur See Robert Ehrenberg, as chief engineer, was briefly addressed as LI.
Head writers Tony Saint and Colin Teevan crafted a blend of emotion and action – “the war is really getting personal now” – that the directors translated into often extremely dark imagery. Hans Steinbichler calls Petersen’s “Boot” “the German film par excellence”. And for Robert Gansel, with whom he shared the directing work, the novel and film are “like all great anti-war stories, a constant reminder of how hard we should strive to pursue peaceful and humanitarian solutions. You can see from the current developments that these messages never get old.”
Technically interesting: While the first two seasons were filmed in Ultra HD, season three was filmed in a much higher 8k resolution. World War technology from the first half of the 20th century thus meets a television standard that still has to prove itself in the future.
The horizon of the plot has been greatly expanded since Petersen’s film. The third season oscillates around three locations: on the home front in Kiel, in the theaters of war at sea and in the neutral city of Lisbon, where spies from both sides are stalking each other. The new season was shot in 104 days in Prague and Malta.
The suffering of the population as a result of the war is addressed even more strongly than before, both in Germany and in Great Britain. Hardly anyone who has not yet suffered any losses. First Lieutenant Ehrenberg lost his son in a British bombing raid, the son of the British destroyer commander Jack Swinburne (Ray Stevenson) died in an attack by German U-boats on an Allied ship convoy.
As different as the roles of the two officers in this war are, they deal with their grief in different ways. In any case, the duel between the two protagonists on the high seas is inevitable. Especially since the German fighters, who hunted the ships of the enemy navy with their “wolf packs”, became the hunted through technical advances. The German submarines can now be located and sunk both above and below water. Swinburne was explicitly chosen as a “submarine killer” by “upstairs”. That’s not the only reason why the German side says: “The shitty war is getting shitier.”
Gestapo man Hagen Foster (Tom Wlaschiha) has to fight a completely different battle. He is sent to Lisbon to expose a traitor. But the mole hunt turns out to be a large-scale conspiracy. Almost a film within a film, in which U-949 plays a not unimportant role. In any case, no emotion is left out. Love and loyalty, grief and betrayal, companionship and insidiousness, the desire for peace as well as overwhelming feelings of revenge. The plot wasn’t overloaded at all.
The third season is told in a dramaturgically contemporary way, but the events remain within the historical framework. Only the emphasis on the soldier’s concept of honor, which is sometimes even placed over explicitly different orders from the high command, seems exaggerated in places. On the other hand, there is no lack of convincingly presented conflicts.
The increased depth is joined by an excellent ensemble, which also includes Ernst Stötzner, Rick Okon, Johann von Bülow, Trystan Pütter as well as Anna Schudt, Fritzi Haberlandt, Luise Wolfram and Elisa Schlott – to name just a few.
The list could be extended indefinitely. As timeless as the basic tension of “Das Boot” is, the war will also be over for this series at some point. In any case, there will be a fourth season, and filming for it will begin in the summer.