Saints and Soldiers (2003)
July 31st, 2007 by Maxim · 2 Comments · 9,563 Views
The movie is based on actual historic events.
The plot: Middle of December, 1994. A unit of American soldiers is captured in Ardennes forest in Belgium. When one of the American soldiers tries to wrestle out a weapon from a German soldier, the Germans open fire on the prisoners. This event has later become known as the Malmedy massacre. Four soldiers survive by hiding in the forest and playing dead. As they travel through the forest they find a stranded British intelligence officer/pilot who has information about the plans of the German troops for the offensive (the Battle of the Bulge). They decide to sneak back to Allied territory from behind enemy lines and deliver this information, which can save thousands of lives of Allied soldiers.
Very good acting. Interesting to see each character develop and to see how their individual views on themselves and their enemies change as circumstances become more and more complex. The movie delivers a clear message: in war, as in life, stuff happens and there is not always a clear line between right and wrong, between humane and inhumane. Though “Saints and Soldiers” is a rather low budget movie without the luxury of cool special effects like in “Thin Red Line”, “Saving Private Ryan” and a number of movies in the same style like “Flags of our fathers” and “Battle of Iwo jima”, so they had to compensate with good acting and good story, though a rather simple one.
By now the movie has won 14 “Best Picture” awards. However I removed a star because:
- it was too slow at times – almost the entire movie is the walk through the forest and trying to avoid the “Krauts”.
- the sniper/marksman was hallucinating too many times. In one episode a ghostly figure zoomed through the screen with a “whoosh” sound that ghosts make in horror movies
- too many conversations were around “dammit, I just need a cigarette”
But it is well crafted, thought provoking and moving picture. Photography is excellent. A lot of attention is paid to smallest details, which makes the movie very believable. Then again, a lot of modern war movies do that. For all the deficiencies, the movie is worth watching for its humanitarian message.
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