My summary seems to imply I found this film tedious. No, that's not the case. If anything it's very close to a masterpiece. There's not enough space to recount its memorable sequences. In fact everything about it is memorable. What stands out is the way war reduces individuals to cogs in a machine of death and destruction. A person's background, education, social standing, his worth as a person, counts for nothing. All that matters is his ability to run headlong into a volley of bullets in what is surely diametrically opposed to his instinct for survival. The politics of war are useless, nobody really cares why they're fighting. They only want to stay alive. This is best portrayed in the scenes of the tunnel dug by the Germans to place explosives under the French positions. The French soldiers know full well what is about to happen but their superiors do nothing to protect them and in scene after scene they wait for the sound of the digging to stop. When they're relieved they rush to shoulder their packs and hurry out of their now compromised safe-place seemingly unconcerned for their replacements. They're safely away when the explosion takes place. All we see is the plume of smoke and are left to imagine the horror above, like the soldiers, who continue on their way, only too glad to be alive. And this is only one vignette of the many that make up this film. But if there's one thing it brings out most vividly is how tedious war is. As a civilian I have a distorted view of war as ceaseless combat. Intellectually I know this to be false but our arts concentrate on the action in war and ignore the endless hours in-between, when nothing happens and soldiers just wait and wait and wait. "Wooden Crosses" portrays this tedium better than any other I know of. We, the viewers, get caught up in it, are oppressed by it and want to turn away but can't because we have become involved in the nearly anonymous soldiers and want to see them come out alive even though we have come to expect the worst. This is not an easy film to watch. But it should be required viewing.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?