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Bulgaria near the end of World War I: Conan, warrior and wolf, leads a band of 50 ruthless French fighters who love hand-to-hand combat. Their motto: "We forgot to take prisoners, Captain." At war's end, the unit goes to Bucharest, where Conan tries to keep them out of trouble, defends them when they behave as warriors, and finds he's unsuited for peacetime. His friendship with Norbert, a teacher turned lieutenant, is tested when Norbert accepts a job as court-martial prosecutor because he's learned that Conan will be facing charges and he wants to protect his friend. When they are sent to the Russian border to fight Bolsheviks, Conan is back in his element and Norbert is off the hook. Written by
Interesting but also a bit slow and uninspiring at the beginning
Historically speaking, this is a very interesting film, as very few films have dealt with what occurred between the Armistace in November 1918 and when the troops were ultimately brought home--some as late as 1920 or 1921. During this period, an undeclared and practically forgotten war raged off and on between soldiers from several nations and the Red Army along the Russian borders. Apparently, France, the United States, Germany and several other nations were worried that the Russian Revolution might spill into other nations and so troops were sent to eastern Europe. Not a whole lot was gained from this, though it did help to keep some of the problems from spreading somewhat. The problem is that while I am familiar about this period, I wonder just how many non-history teachers know about this. While the film does give us some information about this, it's a shame it wasn't more clear and exactly why the troops were sent into Bulgaria and Romania and who they were fighting wasn't really discussed. Perhaps the writers and director wanted this confusion in the film in order to mirror the confusion of the troops, as they seemed to have no idea why they were there either--but still, more information would have been nice.
Despite the setting for the film being this undeclared war, the theme running through the film was the extreme difficulty some soldiers had adjusting to peace. Captain Conan and his group of irregulars were savage guerrilla fighters and could not adapt to a post-WWI world. This all came to a head when some of Conan's men were accused of committing crimes against the Romanians as well as when Conan was drug into resulting trials for these accused soldiers as well as a deserter. This is where the film became more interesting and I started to enjoy the film after a very slow start. Once again, the film was important because rarely is this transition to "normalcy" addressed in war films.
So do I recommend the film? Well, it really depends on your tolerance for a slow film (in the beginning) as well as your ability to follow the script--after all, if you don't have at least a basic knowledge of this period, you might feel a bit lost.
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