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Time Out says
This belongs to that least enticing of genres, the submarine movie. Yet, despite a narrative almost wholly confined to the cramped interior of a U-boat patrolling the Atlantic, it isn't hard to understand why Germany's most expensive film ever became an international hit. Apart from the fact that, like Chariots of Fire, it exploits a contemporary soft spot for nostalgic, non-sectarian patriotism, Petersen's shooting style displays a breathtaking, if impersonal and faintly academic, virtuosity comparable to that of Lean or Coppola. As the brilliantly deployed Steadicam whizzes through the sweaty clutter of the vessel's living quarters, the film's unfailing (and paradoxical) sense of spectacle is rendered even more dynamic by appearing about to burst at the seams of its own claustrophobia. A pity, then, that its ironies on the futility of warfare prove trite beyond belief.