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Cross of Iron

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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: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00003M5FX
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #80,872 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

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

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 29 2006
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Chris K. Wilson on July 4 2003
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By isala on May 7 2004
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R on June 21 2004
Format: DVD
I would rate it 3.5 stars, because it's better than average as compared to other ww2 films however there are a few small problems I have with this movie. First off, the opening minutes contain scenes of implied homosexulaity between the german soldiers. I'm not sure the accuracy of this, although no doubt it probably did happen, but seems to be a fairly important point thoughout parts of this movie. If this is supposed to further convince the audience of the depraved nature of the soldiers, it works in that regard but it is quite obvious that they are depraved anyway and that added nothing to the storyline nor to the plot.
The other problem I have is, although most of the battle scenes contain close to accurate german and russian weapons, the overhead bombing scenes contain shots of U.S. navy corsairs dropping bombs. These were probably stock footage taken from a navy film and look horribly out-of place here.
But despite those two issues, most of the rest of the movie is good and portrays an accurate, interesting and engaging portrait of battle in the russian theatre during ww2. I especially liked the use of light as most of the battle scenes were shot as daytime attacks and that indeed was the way it happened on the russian front. The sneak attack at the bridge by Steiner's platoon was filmed and sequenced to show all of the moves by the attackers, leaving nothing hidden or off camera. Certainly an interesting way to portray this kind of sequence and it came out quite effectively.
Sam Peckinpah uses the slow motion to good effect and has indeed changed the face of war films circa 1977. Every war movie that was released after this movie tends to show a more grimmer and graphic view of war and that is certainly how it should be done as there is nothing glorious or heroic about war.
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