Cross of Iron (Widescreen Special Edition)
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Cross of Iron (Widescreen Special Edition)
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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
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.
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).Read more ›
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
One of the five best war films ever made and for me at least the greatest Eastern Front film beating out Enemy at the Gates, Stalingrad and a slew of foreign films from Russia and... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Van G. Wilson
This was really a weird war movie. The cast was what drew the eye. However, after beginning to watch it - you want to see the end because it is so weird.Published on June 14 2014 by Marsha Frey
I ordered this for my dad and I like this one too and I give it a five star rating buy it and watch it and you will see why I like it it is one of my favourites.Published on Feb. 5 2013 by brynthegamer
Some people want blood and gore...an government sponsered slasher movie.
But for the rest of us....
Take a common rock. A common rock. Read more
Sam Peckinpah, in his 1977 effort "Cross of Iron", darred to look at the war throught German eyes. Read morePublished on July 18 2004
I disagree entirely with what that idiot simon gurney said. I read the novel and have seen the film, and not only is it a faithful adaptation, but the few changes which are made... Read morePublished on July 7 2004
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