A pragmatic U.S. Marine observes the dehumanizing effects the Vietnam War has on his fellow Marine recruits from their brutal boot camp training to the bloody street fighting set in 1968 in Hue, Vietnam.
France, 1942, during the occupation. Philippe Gerbier, a civil engineer, is one of the French Resistance's chiefs. Given away by a traitor, he is interned in a camp. He manages to escape, ... See full summary »
The original screenplay was written by Christoph Fromm but the producers disagreed with his more realistic direction and had it rewritten. Consequently, Fromm took his name of the film. See more »
The Stielhandgrenades in the belt of the German soldiers throughout the urban assault are clearly made out of rubber. See more »
You know we don't stand a chance. Why not surrender?
Capt. Hermann Musk:
You know what would happen if we do.
Do we deserve any better?
Capt. Hermann Musk:
Otto, I'm not a Nazi.
No, you're worse. Lousy officers. You went along with it all, even though you knew who was in charge. Hermann...
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Well-meant attempt to depict the events concerning the battle of Stalingrad, though the individuals Vilsmaier concentrates on, remain - due to his direction - too far away from the viewer to have him/her really involved and the result is that the drama of the war is never really felt. Thus the film's last and symbolic shot is devoid of a deeper meaning, Thè anti-war film based on the Stalingrad event - as Vilsmaier has clearly given himself as task - is never established. An anti-war film it may be, but "die Brücke" by Bernhard Wicki still has far more impact. It also noteworthy that the film concentrates on the German soldiers only and hardly shows anything on the Russian side.
Moreover as far as the political side is concerned the film never surpasses the level of the 08/15 films by Paul May: it is simple in its division between the politically "good" and "bad" soldier, finding the latter in the higher ranks only, while the lower and lowest in rank are basically decent people; the soldier is just another victim of the regime. Compare this, if you have ever the opportunity, to what 6 German ex-soldiers tell about their experiences at the Russian front in the documentary "Mein Krieg" by Harriet Eder and Thomas Kufus (q.v.). I certainly do not want to suggest that Vilsmaier excuses the war (or worse), but he does not succeed in incorporating the socio-political situation, if he had ever the intention to do so..
There are surely impressive scenes (short truce in the plant; attack of Russian tanks, shooting of Russian civilians e.g.) and the battle scenes ar extremely well choreographed; the cinematography is sometimes stunning. But on the minus side: the cast is never more than average and the music is heavy handed.
In short: despite elementary shortcomings, certainly worth a view.
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