This WW2 psychological drama plays out at Christmas. US GIs hold an isolated cabin in the Ardennes against a handful of Germans cut off from their main force. Combat-weary and short of rations, both sides are determined to survive.
In WWII Western Germany, Private David Manning reluctantly leaves behind a mortally wounded fellow soldier and searches for survivors from his platoon, only to learn from commanding officer Captain Pritchett that they have all been killed in action. Despite requesting a discharge on the grounds of mental disability, Manning is promoted to sergeant and assigned to lead a new platoon of young inductees. Written by
The map used by the Lt. Col. at the company command post to show the Captain where they are to secure a river crossing on the advance to Schmidt is not standard U.S. Army issue, which were black and white, but a modern color version mounted on cardboard. See more »
Narrator, news footage:
August 1944. The outcome of the Second World War appeared to be no longer in doubt. Paris was liberated. After four years of fighting, victory against the Germans seemed assured. Since the Normandy landings, American and Allied forces had battled their way across northern Europe, and pushed the German enemy to within its own homeland.
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While people keep calling this film realistic (and it probably is), I saw this film at a time when I couldn't deny its relevance to events in my own work life. More than the futility of _just_ war, it speaks to a mentality that allows a system to dictate what must be accomplished by the people under its thumb, without regard to whether it's possible or how many people it will destroy to accomplish that thing. Almost more than other war movies, it reminds me of Rod Serling's _Patterns_ (another fine movie that never made it off the small screen).
And it's also a great exploration of that dark, strange area where what's selfish in the moment can turn heroic in hindsight. I think the writer may have actually _read_ Audie Murphy's _To Hell and Back_, which dwells in some of the same strange and gritty territory.
As someone else said, it's not perfect -- but up-&-comers Orth & Eldard turn in great performances, and there's none of the usual Spielbergian sentimentality in evidence. See it, but don't expect to be uplifted.
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