Das Boot: Ready for Battle
By Sara Alessi
Three powerhouses in the television landscape—Sonar Entertainment, Bavaria Fiction and Sky Deutschland—have come together for Das Boot, an event series inspired by Wolfgang Petersen’s Academy Award– and Golden Globe–nominated film and Lothar Günther Buchheim’s best-selling novel of the same name.
“With three strong partners working in close collaboration in every sense, the series has many selling points: iconic, instantly recognizable source material; an epic, universal storyline with a compelling and tense dramatic arc; a feature-film-level budget; the highest possible production values; and a strong international cast and production team,” says David Ellender, the president of global distribution and co-productions at Sonar Entertainment.
“It’s such a great property, an incredible brand, and it absolutely fits Sonar’s strategy, which is looking for drama in the convergence of theatrical film and TV fiction,” he adds. “There are many elements of this particular project that we felt suited us creatively as well as commercially, so obviously, it was a tremendous opportunity that we grabbed straightaway.”
The eight-part event series picks up shortly after the 1981 feature film leaves off. It is set in fall 1942 in occupied France, as U-612, led by Commander Hoffmann, is about to make its maiden voyage into battle. Das Boot also follows a storyline on land, as Simone Strasser’s world begins to spiral out of control when she finds herself tangled in a love affair that has her torn between the two sides of the war.
The central storylines of Das Boot were shot in La Rochelle, France, one of the locations where the original movie was filmed. Filming also took place in Prague, Munich and Malta, both on the open sea as well as in a water studio, and a period-era U-boat was transported from Malta for the project. The series was filmed almost equally in three languages, with a budget of nearly $33 million.
Ellender adds that shooting in La Rochelle brought authenticity to the event series. “Some of the back streets of La Rochelle are like a movie set,” he says. “You believe you’re actually back in the 1940s, and it’s not constructed; it’s part of the city. From a cinematography standpoint, there are some stunning visuals.”
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