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El Alamein [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Paolo Briguglia , Pierfrancesco Favino , Enzo Monteleone    DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: £97.95
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Region 1 encoding (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats.)

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Product details

  • Actors: Paolo Briguglia, Pierfrancesco Favino, Luciano Scarpa, Emilio Solfrizzi, Thomas Trabacchi
  • Directors: Enzo Monteleone
  • Writers: Enzo Monteleone
  • Producers: Giovanni Stabilini, Marco Chimenz, Pino Butti, Riccardo Tozzi
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Colour, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Fox Lorber
  • DVD Release Date: 16 Aug 2005
  • Run Time: 117 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009Y2618
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 123,694 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By Gisli Jokull Gislason VINE VOICE
This movie is among the best war movies in the last years and should not be confused with the older movie form the sixties "Battle of El Alamein", although both movies share the Italian prespective of the battle they are very different in subject and quality.

El Alamein tells the story of the rank and file fucilieri, common Italian foot soldier, seen through the eyes of Serra, a university volunteer in the Italian Army. When he comes to the front everything is very different from what he or indeed anyone else would have imagined. Thin soldiers, malnurished with no real access to clean water and suffering from diarrhea and despair is very different from the idea of a glorious conquering Italian Army.

There is very good character development as the older men take Serra into their care and they experience their share of joy and sorrow. Then on the 23rd of October 1942 all hell breaks loose when Monty and the 8th Army attack and the Italians are pushed to their limit until they break into a headlong retreat.

The movie holds very true to historical events and great attention is paid to detail (acute viewers with a passion for detail will notice that the British tanks aren't quite right but by adding camouflage netting this isn't half bad and everything else is very well done, besides there aren't that many vintage British tanks around). Cinematography is excellent and the Desert plays a part of a character in the movie and you can almost feel the dry heat. All that and it offers a fresh Italian perspective on this important battle and how it was to be an Italian soldier.

It is regrettable that such a good European movie should only be available in a region 1 DVD format, but it is well worth the buy and I have watched it several times.

It comes with my best recommendations.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By A.D.M.
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
History has not been kind to the Italian army for it's efforts in WWII, garnering a rather depressing image. Ill-equipped, ill-trained and ill-led, they were trounced by the British in North Africa prior to Rommel and the Afrika Korp's arrival, and later gave up the ghost in their own country with little resistance. So it is interesting to get the viewpoint of that nation on the subject of their part in the war. This film portrays the trials of a division on the front. It dispenses with the traditional war movie cliches, guns blazing, American heroics, you're more than familiar with it... choosing instead to focus more on the lives of the soldiers who have tired of a conflict that is heading nowhere bar the inevitable defeat whilst the British horde their forces. The initial hour covers small tales and little moments that break the boredom of life on the immobile front. An artillery attack here, a swim in the ocean there, a bullet dodged, a mortar shell detonating just far enough away to allow the soldiers to see another day. I enjoy this style of movie, where it does not attempt to tell a grand story, rather give us an insight into how people cope with being alive in such a morbid situation.

The second half of the film sees the British finally assault the Italian lines, which are overwhelmed by the sheer weight of numbers that are brought to bear. The division is over-run and forced to retreat, and no longer is anything relevant to these men but the slim hope of survival, pushing on, hoping to make it home. Ridiculous orders to stand fast come down from Il Duce, far removed from the ravages of desert war. The film becomes a detached, dreamlike affair as the dwindling force stumbles through the dry desert, pushed westward, severely lacking food and water.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A little gem . 28 Aug 2009
By S. Corr
Its nice to see these sort of lower budger antidotes to some of the more recent CGI driven Hollywood efforts which for all their drama often neglect fundamental story and character development .
The story follows a group of ordinary Italian soldiers dealing with the harsh desert enviroment and the calous indifference of those that have sent them to fight while dealing with certain knowledge that British and Commonwealth forces are preparing an offensive that they are ill equiped both in men and material to resist .
When the inevitable attack comes and despite their best efforts sweeps them away the plight of the the survivors as they try to keep together as everything disintergrates around them is very compelling as these are characters you will have come to care about .
The cinematography is at times quite stunning and the hauntingly beautiful score suits the stunning desert scenery pefectly,this film really does deserve to better known and appreciated .
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful Italian War film 19 Oct 2010
By Mr. P. Johnson VINE VOICE
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
A film about WW11 from the Italian perspective is a rarity in itself. This film is not about action, rather the futility, boredom, and neglect in War. Filmed in haunting desert scenery, you can feel thirsty just watching it! Unknown Italian actors lend an authenticity to the plot, so often lost in big star productions. The plight of the small group of infantry, overlooked by their superiors, left to fend for themselves at the front, is well portrayed. Despite some pitfalls of characterisation, war film fans should relish the unusual opportunity to see things from the other side. All those jokes about cowardly Italian soldiers won't seem quite so funny after this. There are few action set pieces but those present are well done and have an authentic feel.The battle depicted, El Alamein, was one of the great allied victories during the war. This film helps to show why we won it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  23 reviews
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Men of the Pavia Division 23 Dec 2005
By R. A Forczyk - Published on
El Alamein: Line of Fire is an Italian war film that depicts the Italian point of view in the pivotal Battle of El Alamein in the fall of 1942. The time period covered is early October to about 8 November 1942. Overall, this film was better than I expected but it has a rather mixed quality to it. The non-combat scenes that portray the grimy quality of life in the front-line trenches are excellent and the character development is very good, but the combat scenes are sub-par.

El Alamein follows the standard war film conceit: the small unit drama. In this case, the unit is a company-size detachment in the 27th Infantry Regiment, 17th "Pavia" Division, stationed at the extreme south of the Axis line next to the Qattara Depression. The main characters are Lieutenant Fiori, Sergeant Rizzo and the new-comer, Private Serta. The first half of the film involves the tedium and suffering of static warfare in the desert, particularly with the emphasis on poor supplies of water and food. There are several minor episodes in this phase of the film which are used to "flesh out" the main characters, with the most interesting being Sergeant Rizzo and Serta going into the Qattara Depression to look for a lost Bersaglieri patrol. Uniforms, small arms and kit used in the film are authentic, but not quite as comprehensive as what was used in the better "Captain Corelli's Mandolin." The director also makes great effort to depict the utter lack of concern of Mussolini and the Italian generals for their troops at the frontline, including sending exhortations to "fight or die" instead of sending potable water. On the other hand, I was glad that the director chose to omit any type of conflict or tension within the unit, which so often is used to unrealistically depict life in combat units. The soldiers get along fairly well and Private Serta's adaptation to the front is fairly smooth, unlike other trashy films like "Platoon" that emphasize internal discord. Overall, this first half of the film is probably the best and compares well with other foreign war films, such as the Finnish "Ambush."

Once the British attack begins on 23rd October - about halfway through the film - the quality starts to decline a bit. Obviously, the film did not have a big budget and it is difficult to depict a battle that involved over 300,000 troops without spending some. Furthermore, the film becomes somewhat unhistorical as far as depicting the British attacks - British tanks (actually modern M60 tanks) are shown driving on line toward the Italian positions with headlights on! Nor do the Italian positions have much in the way of AT mines or AT guns in support (in fact, the Italians had 47mm AT guns and artillery supporting all the frontline positions), so the British just roll fight over them. Our boys from the "Pavia" are sent to reinforce the "Folgore" parachute division and suffer about 50% losses, but hold. In reality, these were diversionary attacks while the main British attack was to the north. Indeed, the "Pavia" division saw less action at El Alamein than most Axis units.

The end comes rather quickly once the British breakthrough in the north. Rommel and the Afrika Korps retreat westward, leaving the Italians to fend for themselves (the Germans are shown very little, only yelling "you're all going to die" as they drive by them). The men of Pavia begin walking westward in the desert, but soon all of the company is captured except for LT Fiori, Rizzo and Serta. At this point, once it becomes clear that they cannot elude the British and that their chances for survival in the desert are nil, the viewer will wonder why these characters would chose to press on. Indeed, it appears that one motive of this film was to portray the Italian soldier in the Second World War as more stalwart and resolute than popularly imagined. However, the reality is that the majority of the Italians who fought at El Alamein were captured and thousands sought out the British rather than die in the desert.

Aside from lack of proper heavy weapons in the film (a British aircraft is shown once), the other problem with the film is the omission of any substantial role for either the Germans or the British. This omission induces a "Robinson Crusoe" quality to the film, where you almost feel that these men are marooned in the desert with no friends or foes. In actuality, Rommel had inter-mixed German and Italian units at El Alamein to "stiffen" the weaker Italian formations. Instead, we only get a glimpse of retreating Germans and it is highly unfavorable. The British are shown only as casualties on the ground, or in silhouette as attackers in the night, but we are never shown any POWs or close-interaction, as in "Saving Private Ryan." Overall, this film is a commendable effort and worth viewing to gain Italian perspectives, but like many in this genre, it has sacrificed realism due to a combination of budget constraints and nationalistic conceits.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid war WWII movie from an Italian point of view 17 May 2006
By Virgil - Published on
El Alamein tells the story of the battle from the point of view of the Italian side, especially from that of a young Italian lieutenant volunteering for combat and the infantry company he's assigned to with the Pavia Infantry division. The film is a bleak look at how the Italian troops were left to fend for themselves by their own commanders and with little resources at their disposal. The battle scenes are decent, not as good as they could be in the sense they probably didn't have the technical resources or budget an American film would've had, but good enough to give a sense of combat.

Things are pretty tough on the line, water is in short supply, soldiers have to loot the packs of dead Brits (technically I think Anzacs may have been opposite them) in order to get things like canned fruit, investigate the loss of communication with a Bersagliari scout position and the constant artillery barrages which decimates much of the company's fighting strength.

It comes to a head in a final series of defensive battles prior to which much of the more mobile German army retreats leaving the foot infantry like the Pavia and adjacent Folgore Airborne Division on their own. Outnumbered and out gunned the company commander finally tries to lead the remnants of his unit back to the Axis rear through the North African desert.

While the truth is that German interspersed their units among the Italian units like the Pavia and Folgore, they also retreated leaving most of the line infantry who without transportation to fend for themselves. This included sacrificing the Italian Ariete Armored division to provide a screen for Rommel's retreat. Although the southern attacks were considered feints, they weren't by any means light attacks. The Folgore itself, adjacent to the Pavia, fought off several combined ANZAC attacks and destroyed 120 tanks with only a handfull of anti-tank weapons and armour.

Much of the negative treatment of Italians in the war was also misleading. While many of the Italian units were poorly equiped and poorly led, units like the Folgore, Bersaglieri, Ariete and even the Pavia conducted themselves well. The Ariete was destroyed in a final 'screen', while the Folgore by all accounts fought fiercly with or without Ramcke's troops alongside them. Of the main-line infantry the Pavia probably conducted themselves best with a decent cadre of junior officers most units only surrendered after being decimated or running out of ammunition.

'El Alamein' to a large extent reflects the abandonment felt by the line soldiers who did their duty, the resentment of much of Italian writings during the war which blames Rommel for scapegoating them for his own failings and an underlying sense of resentment at the negative treatment given the Italian soldiers on the line and attempts to present another side. Good film, worth a look by WWII buffs.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great War Movie! 27 Aug 2005
By The Machine - Published on
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I rented this film on a fluke from Blockbuster Video and enjoyed thoroughly. It is unusually good and gritty. It does not glorify war. In addition, you feel what the central characters are experiencing as they await their fate in the hot Saharan desert. You almost feel like you're right there with them sweating it out with no water or food provisions.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An accidential pick but.... 13 Mar 2009
By C. A. Temm - Published on
Like many of the other reviewers, I picked this out by accident. As an amateur historian and retired soldier, I've always been interested in the more obscure services that fought in wars like WW2. Despite the important role Italy played in WW2, they are at best sidelined in movies and most accounts of the war.

So I checked this out and never regretted it from start to finish. Italians get an almost uniform poor review (much of it undeserved) for their performance in the War. Because of that, the Italian role is always denigrated and therefore ignored.

But El Alamein, filmed from the viewpoint of an Italian infantry company in the deserts of Libya, centers on the forgotten men of the Italian army. It was the Italians who made up the bulk of Rommel's infantry and support troops. And this movie reminds the viewer that those soldiers had the same mix of reasons for being at the front as even the better armies like the Germans and as much pride as any of the others also. Filmed in Morocco, one could easily get into the heads of the men in their dusty trenches waiting in stalemate across from their British enemies. Poorly supplied and under equipped for a war of movement, the Italians were bitterly resigned to being underdogs in a war that none pretended to understand.

The movie centers on one platoon of the Pavia Division and develops the traditional characters out pretty well. The new volunteer replacement, professional sergeant, assorted corporals and other privates, wise company commander-in this case an older lieutenant, all come to life in this film. Short rations, poor water, and miserable conditions all get the attention due. Weapons and uniforms are generally straight (except mortars do not fire off plumes of smoke when used), as are the vehicles (except the M48A5s used for the British armor). The background of destroyed vehicles though is almost all modern Sov/American and will catch the eye of knowledgeable viewers.

The confusion of the Italians as their lines are crushed by Montgomery's massive offensive at El Alamein is well portrayed. Foot infantry trying to retreat ahead of armor and truck borne infantry, the hopelessness of that in the desert is shown over and over again. Still they try and do not just give up, trying desperately to regroup and fight. There is the obligatory portrayals of high officers being unrealistic and pompous but in the case of Italy, that was often true. Interestingly, there is reference of the tension between the Italian/German allies also.

The ending was quite sober and fitting. I for one, never knew the Italians have such memorials at the battlefield. In many ways, this film was both a work of love and a memorial to those forgotten men of Italy who died so far away from home.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars war from the loser point of view 9 July 2007
By Walter Volpatto - Published on
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I'm biased because I worked on this movie but it is a very good prospective from the point of view of the people who fought in the WWII Africa front and lost. No Hollywood visual effects to fill the time, just the simple story told by who eventually survived the massacre, told as my grand parents where used to tell us when we where kids ( for those lucky enough to came back ).
A sad story, a snippet for who doesn't know the history and the courage of the other side of the trench.

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