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Sunday June 23rd 2024

Das Boot | 1981

Das Boot filming location: La Pallice, France
Das Boot location: the submarine pens: La Pallice, France | Photograph: flickr / Thierry Llansades

Wolfgang Petersen’s epic (the TV version is six hours long) and excruciatingly claustrophobic account of life beneath the waves aboard a German U-boat during WWII was shot on a deliberately cramped set at the Bavaria Studios in Munich.

Even the opening ‘Bar Royal’ was a studio set. The studio, built back in the silent era in 1919, was also used for such disparate movies as Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory, Ingmar Bergman’s The Serpent’s Egg (made when the director was briefly exiled from Sweden), Uli Edel’s controversial Last Exit to Brooklyn, Wolfgang Petersen’s own The Neverending Story and Bob Fosse’s Cabaret.

You can tour the studio – including Das Boot’s submarine set – and sets from Astérix et Obélix Contre César and The Neverending Story, among others, at Bavariafilmplatz 7, 82031 Grünwald on the southern border of Munich.

The submarine pens the sub sets out from, and site of the tragic air raid at the end, are real. They are at La Rochelle near Rochefort-sur-Mer, built by the German Command in 1941, on the Atlantic coast of France. The U Boat pens are situated in the town’s commercial port, known as La Pallice (I believe they’re not open to the public). The same base was used in Raiders of the Lost Ark, which also borrowed Das Boot’s submarine.

The sea scenes were shot in the North Atlantic around Heligoland and in Bodensee (Lake Constance) in Bavaria.