In keeping with our vow to consume lots of classic flicks while banging out Draft Two of the Now the Hell Will Start screenplay, we launched into the uncut version of Das Boot. We hadn’t seen the movie in about a decade, so we’d largely forgotten about its splendor. It’s tough to imagine a better cinematic portrait of life aboard a vintage submarine—Wolfgang Petersen is an absolute master when it comes to conveying claustrophobia, boredom, and anxiety.
Yet our greatest joy in watching the film’s first hour came in marveling at the technology on display. Geeks that we are, we couldn’t help but fixate on the thousand-and-one gadgets that Petersen’s camera swoops by—the hydrophone, in particular, stayed in our dreams last night. And so we’ve accordingly spent much of the morning reading up on submarine tech, starting with the seaborne vehicle’s surprisingly lengthy history. (That William Bourne cat deserves far more credit.)
As fate would have it, The Providence Journal is also in the midst of a massive, multi-part account of the building of a $2.2 billion nuclear submarine. If you’re mechanically inclined, we highly recommend the step-by-step slideshow. We’re actually struck by the size of the hull; compared to those German U-boat crews, our contemporary submariners live large.