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
Director John Irvin's third war film. Irvin had previously been in the Vietnam War filming documentaries. See more »
The insignia of rank of the German sergeant leading his patrol is of a design not used by the German army. 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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Two years ago a WWII veteran asked me if I saw WHEN TRUMPETS FADE, the story of the battle for Heurtgen Forest. He said that he was wounded in the battle, which history has almost forgotten because it was so overshadowed by the Battle of the Bulge starting several days later.
He informed me that it was chilling in it's dead-on accuracy, not only of the events within the battle itself but of the ferocity of carnage that permeated the senses 24/7 of everyone who was there.
After watching it, I realized this was not a "Let's travel to Middle Earth, and slay the dragon fantasy" but a testimony to the barvery, or lack of it, in battle, that men must endure to justify their existance, which is continually threatened by the enemy. There isn't room for sub-plots when all that is on your mind is staying alive; and at what cost?
All the performances are exemplary in this regard, Eldard creating a character that is not only believable but admirable in it's honesty.
It should be ranked among the new age of war classics of recent years. But please don't look for any love stories or soul searching introspectives, there wasn't any time for that when you are cursing the very ground to get lower than the bullets flying over your head.
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