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Cross of Iron

3.6 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: James Coburn, Maximilian Schell, James Mason, David Warner, Klaus Löwitsch
  • Directors: Sam Peckinpah
  • Writers: James Hamilton, Julius J. Epstein, Walter Kelley, Willi Heinrich
  • Producers: Alex Winitsky, Arlene Sellers, Lothar H. Krischer
  • Format: Color, DVD-Video, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • Studio: eOne Films
  • Release Date: Sept. 9 2003
  • Run Time: 119 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B00003M5FX
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #75,979 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Sam Peckinpah weighs in on World War II--and from the German point of view. The result is as bleak, if not quite as bloody, as one expects, in part because the 1977 film was cut to ribbons by nervous studio executives. The assorted excerpts that remain don't constitute an exhilarating or even an especially thrilling battle epic. The war is grinding to a close, and veterans like James Coburn's Steiner are grimly aware that it's a lost cause. The battlefield is a death trap of sucking mud and barbed wire, and the German generals (viz., the martinet played by James Mason) seem to pose a bigger threat to the life and limbs of Steiner's men than the inexorable enemy. Not even Peckinpah's famous sensuous exuberance when shooting violence is much in evidence; the picture is a depressive, claustrophobically overcast experience. The bloody high (or low) point isn't a shooting; it's a wince-inducing de-penis-tration during oral sex. For a fun time with the men in (Nazi) uniform, try Das Boot instead. --David Chute --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
After much anticipation, I received my DVD copy of Henstooth's
second DVD release of Sam Peckinpah-directed "Cross Of Iron."
This is well worth the wait.
The 'Widescreen Special Edition' is superior in video quality
and presentation.
Had Henstooth 'gone the extra-yard' and released an 'unrated'
version and remixed the sound-track in '5.1 surround-sound',
then "Cross Of Iron (Widescreen Special Edition) would be
worth its weight in gold.
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Format: DVD
Film director Sam Peckinpah's career was winding down in 1977 when he shocked international critics with his primitive, unconventional anti-war epic "Cross of Iron." To this day, critics and authors alike don't really no what to make of this ferocious film. At times inspired, at others pretentious, Peckinpah's "Cross of Iron" is kind of the black sheep of classic cinema war flicks - it is difficult to like, but equally deserving of respect.
I suppose the legend behind "Cross of Iron" has been told many times. Immediately after viewing this film, Orson Welles fired off a letter to Peckinpah calling it "the greatest anti-war film ever made." I agree with Welles' stance. One can never really relax while watching the muddy carnage of "Cross of Iron." Explosions constantly rattle the sets, dialogue is difficult to hear due to the cries of dying men in the background. Peckinpah's trademark rapid-fire editing, perhaps used a bit too much in this film (if not many of his post-"Wild Bunch" films), will leave viewers shellshocked. Battlefield distractions reign supreme. As a viewer, we are living with these filthy soldiers in the rat and lice infested bunkers.
In Peckinpah's "Cross of Iron" universe, told from the viewpoint of German soliders on the Russian front in 1943, there is no glory in war. Cynical men are trying to survive poor leadership, dying German philosophies and the constant thunder of Russain bombs and bullets.
James Coburn gives the finest performance of his career as veteran sergeant Steiner. He leads his weary platoon from one skirmish to the next, knowing all is for a lost cause. He rebels against the German leadership, shown in the form of two opposite commanders - one seeking glory (Maximilian Schell), the other survival (James Mason).
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Format: DVD
I would argue that this is the best war movie around, followed closely by Peter Weir's Gallipoli.
Peckinpah is such a brilliant director, and so much more subtle than is immediately obvious.
By chosing Germans and Russians as protagonists, classical bad guys, the viewer does not really root for any side. He also chooses Crimea 1943 as the setting. Therefore we enter the film with very few preconceptions.
To add gravity to his message he does not use typical war music in his score; he mixes it with children's rhymes!
The soldiers on both sides are just soldiers, not particularly bad, not particularly good. They are rather portrayed as beeing trapped in a game played by the people behind the front. Most just try to survive, the only exception is the German front line commander who still clings to the, more decent, values of a bygone era.
Even the "bad guy" is not really a typical film "bad guy". He is weak and egotistic, he does not want to be at the front, he does not want this war. In the end sergeant Steiner ackowledges that
and gives him a chance to redeem himself ('Take this submachine-gun and win your iron cross like a man.').
Where Peckinpah's other films are hyperrealistic this one has a more dreamlike (nightmarish!) character. The Russian tanks have a quality of angels of vengeance, and the devastation after the battles are more reminiscent of Brueghel's visions of hell than of the "great day out for the lads" type vision we have from the usual Hollywood fare.
This is great action, but it has a very strong anti-war message. I think that people who only want to see a war movie will feel oddly disturbed after watching it. I think that is the reason for some negative reviews.
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Format: DVD
Few films, I think, have the same feeling or flavor of "Cross of Iron." It deserves points not only for its style and grittiness, but as well for its unique take on the anti-war idea and its use of a different front not too well seen in films (with perhaps the exception of the recent films "Stalingrad" and "Enemy At the Gates").
In reality, I don't see it as so much being anti-war as it really mocks one of the most disastrous campaigns in military history: the German attack on Russia in World War II. The opening and ending sequences involving child choirs accompanied by footage of the Eastern front and Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime give a grand sense of irony and sarcasm, and through out the film questions are being asked such as "Why are we here?" and "Do you think the German people will forgive us?"
I suppose you could say that using the Russian front, they mock war altogether. The ending sequence of Lee Marvin laughing at the absurdity of the characters and situation around him most likely represents the absurdity of the times then and the times we will find ourselves forever in the future.
Altogether, an great film that is undervalued in the genre of war films.
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