The TV Adaptation of ‘Das Boot’ Continues Where the Original Film Left Off

Photo Credit: CozlCan / MovieStillsDB
Photo Credit: CozlCan / MovieStillsDB

If you loved the 1981 film, Das Boot, then you’re going to love that there’s a recent TV series. Produced by Bavaria Fiction for Sky One, it doesn’t try to recreate the plot of the film or the book upon which the original was based. Rather, it breaks off into its own narrative, showcasing the Battle of the Atlantic, the events in German-occupied France and conditions throughout Europe during the Second World War.

Creating its own storyline

Almost 35 years after Das Boot was released, it was announced a TV series of the same name would serve as a sequel adaption. Directed by Andreas Prochaska, it’s organized into eight parts (or seasons), three of which have already been released.

Prochaska said one of the most important things the series needs to maintain is the film’s original anti-war stance, with him taking extra care to “explore the perennial theme of what war does to people.” Alternatively, he explained how, realistically, the show couldn’t be sustainable within the confines of “the original film’s relentless focus on a submarine crew.”

As a result, the TV adaptation of Das Boot begins in late 1942, nine months after the film. The events in the series take place “after the Allies have cracked the German military’s Enigma code and can track the movement of their submarine fleets.” In doing so, it opens the show to explore the impacts of this on the U-boat’s crewmen, their families and the subsequent events that took place during the Second World War.

Each season of Das Boot focuses on its own subject matter

Still from 'Das Boot'
Das Boot, 1981. (Photo Credit: mdew / Columbia Pictures / MovieStillsDB)

The first season of the TV adaptation of Das Boot immediately broke the setting of the German U-boat, showing life aboard U-612, as well as the French Resistance in La Rochelle, France. In setting this tone from the get-go, audiences recognize this isn’t a remake of the film, but, instead, will provide multiple viewpoints from those involved in World War II.

The subsequent two seasons take place from 1943-onward, centering around the exchanging of U-612‘s captains, as well as the impact of the conflict in areas like Portugal and Kiel, Germany. The highly-anticipated fourth season will focus on the naval war coming to a head in the Mediterranean, while resistance within the German military continues to grow.

The Das Boot TV series keeps some elements of the film

U-boat conning tower with the emblem of a laughing sawfish
Laughing sawfish emblem of the 9th U-boat Flotilla. (Photo Credit: Immanuel Giel / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

The Das Boot series stays true to the film in other, less obvious ways that only the trained eye might recognize. In the film, U-96 is a Type VIIC U-boat. The one featured in the show maintains this category, using a replica of the USS S-33 from the controversial 2000 film, U-571, and heavily modifying it to turn it into U-612.

Fans of the film may remember the laughing swordfish emblem that was painted on U-96 This characteristic continues within the series. Each featured U-boat can be seen bearing their own emblems, based on the captain and crew operating the vessels. Some include a skeleton, a falcon, a sewer rat and a fox.

Fans seem to love the TV adaptation of Das Boot

Still from 'Das Boot'
Das Boot, 1981. (Photo Credit: CozlCan / MovieStillsDB)

Unsurprisingly, the Das Boot TV series has performed extraordinarily well. This makes sense, as the 1981 film was highly received by audiences across the globe. It earned six Academy Award nominations, and the show itself has earned several nominations of its own, winning many.

The numbers from season one were telling enough to suggest that, not only will the series be successful, but subsequent seasons will be anticipated by audiences. On Sky Deutschland alone, 1.44 million viewers tuned in.

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Additionally, another 2.8 million European viewers were recorded as having watched Das Boot on non-linear platforms, while in the United States, 1.13 linear and 1.89 million on-demand viewers were recorded.

Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!