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In 1943, in the Russian front, the decorated leader Rolf Steiner is promoted to Sergeant after another successful mission. Meanwhile the upper-class and arrogant Prussian Captain Hauptmann Stransky is assigned as the new commander of his squad. After a bloody battle of Steiner's squad against the Russian troops led by the brave Lieutenant Meyer that dies in the combat, the coward Stransky claims that he led his squad against the Russian and requests to be awarded with the Iron of Cross to satisfy his personal ambition together with his aristocratic family. Stransky gives the names of Steiner and of the homosexual Lieutenant Triebig as witnesses of his accomplishment, but Steiner, who has problems with the chain of command in the army and with the arrogance of Stransky, refuses to participate in the fraud. When Colonel Brandt gives the order to leave the position in the front, Stransky does not retransmit the order to Steiner's squad, and they are left alone surrounded by the enemy and... Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The pistol Stransky draws to shoot the teenage Russian prisoner at the first meeting with Steiner is a Model 1934 Beretta. See more »
When Steiner and his men are waiting to cross the road, the Russian soldiers on the tanks are singing "Oy Kozaro", a Yugoslav fighting song, which Russian soldiers would not know. The Yugoslav extras probably didn't know any Russian songs and figured nobody would know the difference. See more »
I can't add much to these reviews except to comment that I've found this film to be a great favourite among real soldiers. I once got to deliver the classic line to a Major and a Captain about hating all officers. Luckily(?) they knew I was quoting from the film!
I'm not bothered about the assortment of accents in the cast (that others have mentioned). It seems to me that if you believe in their situation and have immersed yourself in the film, as it was easy for me to do, then you don't even notice them after a while. I would argue that the cast (in terms of dialogue) in Private Ryan is far more of a problem, since these seem to be 1990s guys transported back to 1944 and are far too 'knowing'. Moreover, in Private Ryan I kept stepping back from the film feeling that I was simply being manipulated by the director. COI is far more chilling. I really liked (if that's the word) a scene where an artillery explosion killed both Germans and Soviets. Kind of emphasises the 'war is hell' message without preaching or being manipulative.
I think Steiner is one of the greatest military characters ever to appear on film (for what its worth, Gregory Peck as Savage in Twelve O'Clock High, and Jeff Daniels as Chamberlain in Gettysburg are also up there). I must say I didn't really like the ending, but I can't suggest a better one, but as an alternate "ending" I would certainly recommend that people *do not* see the awful sequel 'Sergeant Steiner' with Richard Burton(!) as Steiner.
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