sat 13/07/2024

Das Boot, Series 3, Sky Atlantic review - submarine warfare finds new horizons | reviews, news & interviews

Das Boot, Series 3, Sky Atlantic review - submarine warfare finds new horizons

Das Boot, Series 3, Sky Atlantic review - submarine warfare finds new horizons

Look out U-boats, Commander Swinburne is coming for you

Trouble ahead for U-boat skipper Robert Ehrenberg (Franz Dinda)

The challenge for the makers of Das Boot is to keep finding new ways to move the show forwards and outwards without losing touch with its foundations in World War Two submarine warfare.

This wasn’t a problem faced by Wolfgang Petersen when he made his original Das Boot movie in 1981, because the interior of a U-boat – U-96, to be specific – became the all-encompassing universe of his film. But he did call it “a journey to the edge of the mind”.

Previously, Das Boot (the TV show, dubbed Das Reboot in some quarters) has delved into the Nazi occupation of France and the activities of the Resistance, probed the personal and political antagonisms and affiliations of various representatives of the all-conquering Third Reich, and even managed to fit in a trip to the USA, where U-boat skipper Klaus Hoffman ended up after being cast adrift in mid-Atlantic. The murky collaboration between certain US businessmen and the Reich may yet come back to bite us.

Das BootFor this third series, a further avenue opens up in the shape of Royal Navy Commander Jack Swinburne (Ray Stevenson). In the opening scenes, we see Swinburne’s destroyer HMS Perseverance hunting down a German submarine and forcing it to surrender. However, Swinburne is no mood to pick up survivors, and after the German skipper tauntingly tells him he has destroyed any useful secret information and is now his prisoner, Swinburne shoots him and his second-in-command dead.

It transpires that Swinburne is on a revenge mission, following the death of his son in an Atlantic convoy that suffered a ghastly mauling at the hands of the Germans (this seems to be based on the real-life disaster of convoy PQ17). His determination to annihilate as many Germans as possible will be given full rein as the series develops, as, equipped with the latest sub-hunting technical innovations, he pursues the U-boat skippered by Robert Ehrenburg (Franz Dinda) on its secret mission in the South Atlantic.

Meanwhile, the father-and-son theme is echoed by the continuing story of Hoffman (Rick Okon) and his venerable dad Wilhelm (Ernst Stotzner), a legendary submariner from the previous war whose book Don’t Fear the Depths has become a bible of undersea warfare among the sailors of the Kriegsmarine. His son’s moral anguish about the war and the Nazi cause is another issue waiting to bounce back strongly in this third series. Back, too, is Gestapo official Hagen Forster (the reliably chilling Tom Wlaschiha, pictured above), whom we meet again when he visits Lisbon to investigate the killing of a Gestapo agent. He’s about to unearth a (spoiler alert) vast conspiracy involving plundered gold.Das BootWhile the plotting can sometimes teeter out on a limb, Das Boot continues to impress with its plausibly atmospheric evocation of life during 1940s wartime. Clothes, buildings, motor vehicles and street furniture all feel eerily convincing, enhanced by cinematography which illuminates both the bombastic opulence of the German top brass and the sullen misery of everything else the German war machine touches.

This time around, the German U-boat base at Kiel has been plausibly recreated, while the totalitarian horrors of the Reich are glimpsed when a couple of youths made homeless by Allied air raids and surviving on petty crime are arrested and given a stark choice. Either go to a concentration camp and be forcibly sterilised at age 18, or join the U-boat service (underwater training, pictured above). They choose the latter, but while one of them, Harri, wants to knuckle down and make a success of his unexpected nautical career, Pauli is already a hardened criminal determined to exploit any illicit angle he can find. Any boat with him on it is unlikely to be a happy one.


Tom Wlaschiha's performance in this series is a work of thespian genius and Shakespearean tragedy. No ordinary actor can portray an ambitious man thoroughly corrupted by Nazi power while exuding pitiable human weakness and a tortured conscience. Absolutely brilliant. Bravo!

I have nothing but praise for Das Boot season 3. The script, the atmosphere, every actor played their role wonderfully, I couldn't stand out any of them. Unlike season 2, season 3 left me wanting more! Hopefully we'll enjoy of a season 4 next year.

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