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|Index||12 reviews in total|
a very crude, beautiful, rarely near-truth war movie, rhetoricless. it reflects the story of italian war drama, fought against allied extrapowered forces. the italian armed support of that campain is usually undervaluated by historian and worldwide literature to favour of little contribution given by rommel's africakorp. I think they have right to obtain a more correct history-revision to give truth to the truth. the movie soundtrack is very exotic and fashinating, so you can feel the right atmosphere of desert land. a particular appreciation for the use of italian realistic vintages motorcycles, trucks, guns and a beautiful FIAT 508C militarizzata (command-car)in the right camouflage. the movie has given a simple, real chronicle of the time. enjoy yourself-bye
History has not been kind to the Italian army for it's efforts in WWII,
garnering a rather depressing image. Ill-equipped, ill-trained and
ill-led, they were trounced by the British in North Africa prior to
Rommel and the Afrika Korp's arrival, and later gave up the ghost in
their own country with little resistance. So it is interesting to get
the viewpoint of that nation on the subject of their part in the war.
This film portrays the trials of a division on the front. It dispenses
with the traditional war movie clichés, guns blazing, American heroics,
you're more than familiar with it... choosing instead to focus more on
the lives of the soldiers who have tired of a conflict that is heading
nowhere bar the inevitable defeat whilst the British horde their
forces. The initial hour covers small tales and little moments that
break the boredom of life on the immobile front. An artillery attack
here, a swim in the ocean there, a bullet dodged, a mortar shell
detonating just far enough away to allow the soldiers to see another
day. I enjoy this style of movie, where it does not attempt to tell a
grand story, rather give us an insight into how people cope with being
alive in such a morbid situation.
The second half of the film sees the British finally assault the Italian lines, which are overwhelmed by the sheer weight of numbers that are brought to bear. The division is over-run and forced to retreat, and no longer is anything relevant to these men but the slim hope of survival, pushing on, hoping to make it home. Ridiculous orders to stand fast come down from Il Duce, far removed from the ravages of desert war. The film becomes a detached, dreamlike affair as the dwindling force stumbles through the dry desert, pushed westward, severely lacking food and water.
This film may also hold the distinction of being the only WWII movie to feature full frontal male nudity, but I can't qualify that comment. Beyond that, this is an excellent movie - devoid of the trappings of Hollywood and presenting the conflict from the viewpoint of a bitter, soul-crushing defeat for the Italians. They may have been over-matched, but they were no different to any other soldier who just wanted to make it to the end of the war.
A very realistic depiction of the famous World War II battle, from the point of view of some common Italian soldiers, this movie lack of any kind of rethoric, nor pacifistic neither heroic. It's something like a good Vietnam movie from American directors, as "Platoon" or "Hamburger Hill". A must for everyone who wants to know more about Italian war in Africa
Given its small budget, this is a fine little film about Italian troops
abandoned in the face of the British counter attack at El Alamein in
More films and books need to be made about this sad chapter in the history of Italy, whose international military reputation is somewhat lower than that of the French.
Italian troops gave no less to their cause than did Germans or the British, the Russians, the Americans, and the Japanese. But because of poor leadership from Mussolini on down, they were forced to surrender in droves, and as much as we don't want to admit it, we Westerners hold those who surrender in pretty low esteem.
This film goes a long way toward correcting the historical record through its touching story, beautiful acting, wonderful art direction, and absolutely stunning cinematography.
No heroism. No victory in the end. Only the uneasy feeling of the omnipresent heat, the lack of anything else required for whatever war you're fighting and a growing feeling of despair. Yet the story touched me because it was brought in a way that made it quite believable. The optimistic student who goes to war in the belief that the Italian army will be in Caïro in no time at all, because he believed the public opinion and the promises of Il Duce back home like everybody else did. I must hereby add, that that feeling of believing the story was very much fed by the fact that in my opinion the director and his camera crew knew exactly what they were doing and I also would like to give a big compliment to the casting people. Maybe over the years I have seen better war movies, but not many and certainly not from Italy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
El Alamein is a movie well deserving of being watched and appreciated.
Surely one of the best Italian movies from the turn of the millennium,
and a an apt and just requiem for those who gave their lives, or their
best years, in the sands of Sahara.
The ensemble of imagery and music is haunting enough to give us an idea of what war in the desert was. The director takes no definite political stance, limiting himself to describe things as they historically were for too many of our soldiers and officers. The young student volunteer, Serra, goes to war excited at the prospect of conquering Egypt, but being a well-read, clever boy, soon realizes the failure of Mussolini's army, and the power of the British and Commonwealth enemy. The other roles are a bit more rhetorical, in the sense that they recall some old clichés: the wise sergeant, the numbed-out lieutenant, living in a sort of permanent shell-shock and crushed under his responsibilities.
The best part of the movie is the dry (we are in the desert, aren't we?) narration of the soldier's life, made of boredom, heat, dirtiness, thirst and hunger, with sudden moments of absolute panic when the Brits, an ominous presence in the (short) distance, send ahead a marksmen, or launch random artillery or mortar attacks. The night battle scenes are short and frantic, while miles away from the video clip style so dear to Americans. They are made really creepy by a haunting soundtrack, plus some quite gory and realistic depictions of wounds, shell-shock people going crazy and disappearing on the battlefield and so on.
It was just and sobering to end the movie on the sight of the memorial to Italian soldiers fallen at Alamein. That's what remains, of all that action, of all those futile efforts to swim against the current of history. A country tragically defeated, since then only partly free, subjected, in one way or another, to its captors, deeply divided and at the same time always ready to the serve the strongest: that has been the enduring legacy of Fascism. Maybe those dead, despite having fought for the wrong side, deserved better: they themselves were the betrayed.
This is a good movie of men in war, not a war movie Hollywood style. It shows the madness of war and (at the beginning at least) reminds me of the surreal atmosphere of another great movie, "Il deserto dei tartari". El Alamein - Linea di Fuoco is a movie that gives at last some justice to the brave men who fought and died in Africa for their country, at that time led by a dangerous gambler, not because they were fascists (those stayed far from the battlefront) but because they felt it was their duty. They didn't lack courage or skills but the means of more advanced industrial powers - the German-Anglo-Saxon reputation in warfare being largely due to superior production and logistics. Showing how Italy could fall in love for "Il Duce" was clearly out of this movie scope and reach, but perhaps it will help reading again this quotation attributed to a world expert in this field, Herr Hermann Goering: "People can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country". In our days, our leaders do not even have to show us we are being attacked - see headlines for "preemptive war", "Iraq", "Iran"...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's the day to day effort(s), the gradual grinding down, of the "ignoto" (the "unknown" soldiers) that make wars of attrition like this one worthy of closer scrutiny. It's fertile ground for filmmakers, though it's ground seldom tread. (Most filmmakers opt for grandiose depictions of the Big Battles and totally ignore or dismiss outright the many unsung smaller battles that make up a war.) One of the most effective shorts I ever saw was A TIME OUT FOR WAR. Based on an Ambrose Beirce short story and featuring Barry Atwater (who played the vampire Janos Skorzeny in the original telefilm THE NIGHTSTALKER), A TIME OUT FOR WAR was set during The Civil War and focuses on a couple of Yanks dug in across a small creek from a Rebel soldier. They take pot-shots at one another from time to time in the name of God and country and all that, but finally decide to call a truce long enough to take a dip and get a sip from the aforementioned crick. Things seem to have taken a turn for the civil when one of the Union soldiers finds the water-logged body of a fellow blue-belly in the water. The Reb watches as the two Yankees retreive the dead man... and the short ends with them resuming hostilities. EL ALAMEIN reminds me of that short and, in like fashion, leaves one shaking one's head at the madness of Men who would make war on other Men (for whatever "reason"). Don't miss it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I generally enjoy war movies, particularly WW2, and I'm not obsessively
fanatical about true-to-life details. But this movie is just not very
It starts out with great potential. The new lieutenant's introduction to the dangers of the British 88's, where he burns one of his "three miracles" definitely grabs one's attention. The sniper incident is also interesting. The soldier's personalities are sympathetic and you do come to care for them.
But there is a bit too much lack of realism. The scene with Mussolini's horse is absolutely ridiculous. While it's evidently true that El Duce had his horse (which was white, not black as shown here) sent to Africa in order to ride it in a triumphal march into Egypt, I very much doubt it was loaded into an ordinary army truck strewn with hay and driven around aimlessly by a couple of lost-and-clueless Italian truck drivers! The other truck was loaded with shoe polish so the soldiers could polish up their boots for the event... pull the other one! There are also too many scenes of soldiers traveling through the desert hatless and with minimal gear... at times without even a canteen. In the desert of North Africa you're not getting far without head protection and without water. The actors aren't even particularly tanned... without hats their heads would be sun-burnt! Beyond issues of realism, which can be dismissed in pursuit of a good story... well, there isn't really a good story. The Italians are bombed presumably by the Brits (who are hardly ever seen) and they get their butts kicked, but any battle scenes are left to the imagination in mostly dark shots of night fighting with bombs exploding in the distance. I'm guessing the budget didn't allow for scenes of tank battles, although that would have been nice to include in a movie about a WW2 front where battles between tanks were the essence of strategy and tactics.
The film does give a sense of the hot white emptiness of the desert battle front but beyond that it's rather tedious. By halfway thru the movie I was counting the minutes to the end.
The problem with this movie is not so much the movie itself, though the movie does not lack in technical glitches, but rather the historical context in which the story is set. The director tries to tell a story about Italian soldiers in World War Two, suggesting that they are hapless victims of incompetent commanders who basically had them fighting in a hopeless cause, period. This narrow theme produces a two-dimensional story that completely ignores the fundamental reason why the Italians were in the fighting in the first place: to achieve the strategic goals of Adolf Hitler. As a result, this movie is dramatically flat. The Italian soldiers are portrayed as self-sacrificing, suffering and heroic when in fact they were invaders who were brought all their problems on themselves. In an interesting twist, the British are portrayed as faceless automatons who mercilessly drive through the depleted Italian lines, as if it were the British who were the bad guys. That the Italian soldiers were capable of acts of courage on the battlefield is not the question. Rather, the question is why were they fighting in the first place, and any movie, especially a movie that is set in World War Two, that avoids dealing with that question is fundamentally flawed.
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