What does this 1981 German film, set in autumn 1941 during the period of most success for the German U-boats in the Atlantic, tell us about the leadership abilities of the ship’s captain, life in the submarine services during that war, and the rigors of that life? How does the Captain deal with the crew’s behavior before deployment, and why does he take the approach he does? How and why does the film contrast the anxious tedium and utter boredom over long periods of the deployment with the intense terror and action of the periods of combat? How does the film portray the thoughts of the German crew regarding their own Nazi government and their British foe? How does it portray the relative importance of ideology and camaraderie as motivators in the crew? How is the film reflective of Germany’s attitude toward its past, and efforts toward moral reparation?

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