25 September 2011

Das Boot.


For the analytical blog entry, I chose to watch the film Das Boot, a German film about World War II U-Boats. And I am very glad I watched it because this movie is choc full of wonderful Mis en Scene.
The German U-Boat is the main Mis en Scene employed through out this movie. It is the main character in this movie and you get to know the boat better than you get to know many of the characters. But this help makes this movie so wonderful. The most important Mis en Scene the boat brought was a feeling of close quarters.
Through out the film, it is drawn out over and over again, the fact that there is no room on this boat for anything. One of the first scenes of the movie, one of the characters is explaining to the other that there is only one bathroom for fifty men. The other one is full of food. The walkways are not even wide enough for two people to pass by shoulder to shoulder. When the officers are eating, multiple times during the meal the crew has to ask permission to pass and walks right through the eating quarters. There is one hallway that runs through the middle of the boat and that is how you get from one section to another. The men share two to three people per bunk. You immediately get the impression that this boat is all about business. Anything that is not needed to get the task done and keep the crew alive is thrown out. Any excess space that isn't needed is put to use. You only get the necessities on their boat. When they encounter enemies, and alarm is shouted and the boat goes alert. At this point men are full out sprinting to get to their posts jumping, diving and doing whatever it takes to get where they need to go. This system is borderline broken as people constantly fall over each other, but they have no choice. This is their job and they will do what is necessary.
The camera work here is phenomenal. The director does a wonderful job of giving you the look and feel of tight quarters throughout the movie. Every scene that happens within the boat, which is 3/4 of the movie, always feels cramped. The camera is always placed in the perfect spots and really drives that cramped feeling home. The editing is also superb and the cutaways are timed perfectly. One scene, you see one of the crew enter the bathroom. As soon as the door closes, the next shot is a man screaming alarm, and everyone immediately shift priorities. This is such a good tactic as it gives you a very vivid sense of the constant fear and adrenaline that could strike out of nowhere.
This cramped feeling that is so well laid out by the cameras serves another purpose however, which is to add another layer of mis en scene; the crew. Throughout the movie, you really never get to know the characters in depth. You really only see the current state, and not much else is said about their future or past. But this is what makes this film shine. You don't need to know their past or future. You know whats going on at the present. And you then realize theses aren't a bunch of individuals, but rather a core of brothers fighting together and overcoming insurmountable odds. All through out the movie, I found myself rooting for them to come out on top. And this was not my conscious thought. It was just my reaction. And I think this was a deliberate choice by the director to show something about the human condition. I became attached to this group of men, who were one entity working together just to survive. But these are Nazis. I should have wanted them to die right from the beginning. But the director wanted to show more. He wanted show that these weren't read devils we were fighting, or horrible creatures, these were humans. Humans who happened to be on the other side of the fence so to speak.
I really loved this film, and I has definitely moved up on my list as a favorite. A wonderful movie and wonderfully done.

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