Claustrophobic and awesome.
Before starting, note this is a review of both the movie and the book. I'll start with the movie.
Besides the great acting of the actors, how they're developed (they're WWII Germans but by no means they're Nazis and it's difficult not to be sympathetic with guys like the Captain or the Chief Engineer to cite two), and the way it portrays how War is Hell
-the tragic end after their odyssey or the hellish fate of the poor crew of the tanker they find after re-surfacing having evaded the enemy destroyers-, what makes this film outstanding for those who like World War II
and/or submarine warfare is the realism of the submarine as well as of procedures like crash dives, the way a WWII submarine attacked -in the surface, only submerging to evade persecution or for daytime attacks, and making calculations with a mechanic computer (the TDC)-, and the cramped and claustrophobic life aboard. This movie is a must for anyone who loves war films.
I think the best moment is when the U-96 dives deeper and deeper attempting to escape of the British destroyers after attacking the enemy convoy and has to do it under the mind-breaking pressure of the sounds of the enemy ASDIC (that, by the way, in Real Life
, it's stated they were as if someone threw sand to the hull of the boat), knowing that if one depth charge hits too close everything will end for them, and within that When Number One is announcing with more and more desperation the U-96's depth and the hull starts to creak. That part is truly thrilling and breathtaking and continues to be so for me despite having seen it many times, and, like the rest of the movie, becomes Nightmare Fuel
when one thinks that was the last thing experienced by many submarine crewmen (not only German ones)... and that in Real Life
things could have been worse.
While the book is by no means bad and one can recognize many events of the movie, the latter outshines it and the best is how we see the journey from the eyes of the equivalent of Werner in a rather innocent way. Can't understand why the author says the movie glorified war while -to give an example- in the book the Heroic BSOD
of Johann ended quite differently to what we see on screen; perhaps 'cause in the former the U-96 arrived to La Rochelle in a much worse shape and in the latter they did not find lifeboats with the remains of crewmen of sank ships.