In Northern Italy, WWI has turned into a bloody stalemate. Bogged down in their trenches on a barren highland, the men of an Italian infantry division have been given one objective: retake a commanding height from the enemy. Unfortunately, the tactical ingenuity of general Leone, the unpopular division commander, consists of supplementing frontal attacks against machine-guns with medieval fighting schemes. His dispirited troops must be prodded with ever harsher measures into storming the Austrian positions. As casualties mount, indignation spreads amongst the rank and file. Disturbed by the decisions of his superiors, lieutenant Sassu is progressively led to question the purpose of the war and to reconsider where his real duties lie.Written by
Eduardo Casais <firstname.lastname@example.org>
You don't get that many films about World War One in comparison to World War Two, and you certainly don't get a lot of films about Italy's involvement in the War. The Alpine Front sounds just as a horrible and nasty as every other front. Better scenery I guess, but I'm sure that wasn't a priority to the countless youths blown up or machine-gunned in futile frontal attacks on machine gun posts.
It's in the Alps the film takes place, although I'm unsure of the exact year. The Italian Army has been ordered to abandon a mountain, but is then immediately ordered to retake it. The men are understandably upset about this, but General Leone won't accept anything but courage from his men, even if it means making an example of them over and over again. On the side of the men are officers Pier Paolo Capponi and Gian Marie Volonte, who repeatedly acts as buffers between the insane orders of the senior officers and the crushed spirits of the men.
There's not much background to many of the characters, and I think this was done on purpose. All the infantry are burned out by the time we meet them, and still they are thrown into battle over and over again, until even the Austrian defenders beg them to 'turn back - stop committing suicide'. The soldiers don't have a choice, however, as their own machine guns are trained on their backs. It's death in either direction and to quote from a British soldier involved in the Battle of High Wood "You had to go forward because at least you had a chance to stick a knife in the person shooting at you'.
There are grumbles of rebellion among the soldiers, and as the orders to attack despite little progress, who will even survive long enough to rebel?
This realistic, horrific film is kind of like an Italian Paths of Glory, only with a bit more action (if you can call it that when people are basically slaughtered). Both Volonte and Capponi are pretty intense as the officers who know how futile the situation is, and the whole film rolls along pretty quickly, just like the never-ending attacks ordered by the top brass. The only female character is Daria Nicoladi, who puts in a quick cameo as a nurse tending to a wounded man following a particularly costly attack, which also happens to be a turning point for a previously loyal soldier.
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