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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Startling image, authenticity and brutality of war.
Right from the start, this film grabs you by the lapels and forces you to watch - the titles appear over stills of Hitler Youth errecting a Swastika flag, German soldiers suffering in the Russian winter, partisans being executed... all to the tune of a children's rhyme, interspersed with a military marching tune. An unrelenting artillary bombardment ensues, amidst the mud...
Published on 4 Dec. 2003

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Germans ? English ? - doesn't work for me
It's a funny idea to have English speaking actors playing Germans who speak English. Even funnier when you have German actors playing Germans yet speaking English. For me this concept doesn't work, but not because I'm German. It's a worldwide problem with films. Take for example those English speaking Japanese actors in the recent terrible "47 ronin" film. Use of...
Published 10 days ago by Wilma


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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Startling image, authenticity and brutality of war., 4 Dec. 2003
By A Customer
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This review is from: Cross Of Iron [DVD] (DVD)
Right from the start, this film grabs you by the lapels and forces you to watch - the titles appear over stills of Hitler Youth errecting a Swastika flag, German soldiers suffering in the Russian winter, partisans being executed... all to the tune of a children's rhyme, interspersed with a military marching tune. An unrelenting artillary bombardment ensues, amidst the mud of Russia, where the Wehrmacht are being forced back. Steiner (Coburn) is the battle-weary veteran corporal, trying to keep himself and his squad of men alive, and at odds with his superior officers, particularly the newly-arrived Prussian aristocrat, Captain Stransky (Schell). The attention to detail will delight afficianados of the war - real T34 tanks, Germans preferring captured Russian weapons rather than their own - and the impending sense of doom as the story approaches it's bloody climax - well, this IS a Peckinpah film, after all!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Peckinpah masterpiece., 10 Dec. 2014
This review is from: Cross Of Iron (Digitally Restored) [DVD] [1977] (DVD)
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"Cross of Iron," named for the WWII German combat bravery medal the Iron Cross, is the story of a squad of German soldiers being squeezed to death by relentless Russian pressure on the Taman peninsula in 1943. Geography buffs, quick! Where's the Taman peninsula? (Answer: in southern Russia with the Black Sea on the south and the Sea of Azov on the north; it is southeast of the Ukraine and directly south, although very far away, from Moscow)

James Coburn stars as "Rolf Steiner," a grizzled soldier who leads an equally grizzled group of soldiers. He is held in awe by his commanding colonel, played by James Mason, and his section leader "Lt. Meyer" played by Igo Galo.

Less enthralled with Coburn is the martinet "Capt. Stransky" played by Maximilian Schell, who volunteered for duty on the Russian front (possibly the only German officer to do so by 1943) so he can win the Iron Cross in battle. He arrives sitting imperialistically on a pile of his luggage but soon is knocked off his figurative horse.

Scenes of Peckenpah's trademark slow-motion violence are interspersed with longer periods of dialogue between the characters.

Mason, who was nominated for three Oscars in his career, and his adjutant "Capt. Kiesel," played by journeyman actor David Warner, opine about the war on their dark terms while Schell is still the committed Nazi. While he should just be a pawn in games between officers, Coburn's character is actually both the fuel and spark to the fire that incinerates them all.

Schell, Mason and Warner all turn in excellent efforts here and the rest of the cast is solid in support of the main players. Senta Berger, who plays "Eva," is Coburn's love interest as a nurse at the hospital where he's sent to recover from battle wounds. Her role is almost an afterthought to the rest of the film.

Peckinpah uses the hospital as a scene to display the utter despair that had reached the soldiers on the Russian front. Wounded soldiers here have ghastly wounds and Coburn wanders through the recesses of his psyche.

The most memorable moment comes as a staff officer greets wounded soldiers. He reaches out to shake one's hand. The soldier offers a stump of a right arm. The general then offers to shake the left and gets another stump. The soldier then gives the Nazi salute with his foot.

The film winds through several battles and Coburn and his men cut off and having to fight their way back to their own lines and the final showdown between Coburn and Schell.

The action sequences are really superior, especially the penultimate fight for the tractor factory, and are very true to the period (especially since the ubiquitous U.S. Sherman or Patton tanks are not used as the pretend tanks of the combatants as seen in so many films).

If you like war movies with good action and some depth of characters, then "Cross of Iron" is one you shouldn't miss.
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42 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Essential War Movie, 7 April 2007
By 
S J Buck (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Cross Of Iron [DVD] (DVD)
Cross of Iron is still, nearly 30 years later one of the great (anti) war movies. Its 1943 and the Germans are being overrun on the Russian front. Peckingpah's trademark slow motion is used to good effect in the battle scenes. Yes this being Peckinpah the battle scenes are very well done.

The cast give marvellous performances:

Maximilian Schell as Captain Stranszky perhaps steals the acting honours as a cowardly Prussian seeking the Iron Cross.

Coburn pushes him close as the officer hating Steiner.

In a supporting role an ageing James Mason gives a seemingly effortless demonstration of how doing very little can amount to a superb performance.

There are occasional lighter moments, but mostly this film is relentlessly grim. Even if you don't see their deaths, you know that all the characters will die.

Strangly though this is a film I want to watch again (and look forward to watching). This is because the main characters are so well drawn (and acted) and as I said above you don't see them all die.

In a typically perverse move Peckinpah ends the film on a moment of black comedy relating to Stranszky's incompetence; Steiner can't stop laughing. A great film.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An opera of bloody war., 28 Jun. 2005
By 
Pyke Bishop (Birmingham, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Cross Of Iron [DVD] (DVD)
Sam Peckinpah's only war movie, and his interpretation of war itself. The body count in his movies were so high he hardly needed the excuse to commence death in a WWII epic. But we're all glad he did, praised by Orson Welles as "Greatest war film I ever saw". Coburn (who plays the part of Corporal Steiner) is a seasoned combat veteran, and is sick of war in the eastern front and of the arrogance of his commanding officer (played by Maximilian Schell) who can't see past his own need to win the coveted Iron Cross. A bittersweet drama portraying the true gritty realism of war along the eastern front (not unlike Das Boot). This is a typical Peckinpah movie: slow motion death sequences of enemies/allies being shot or blown to hell and scenes of sexual violence. Although I thought the ending was a little abrupt - Coburn and Schell taking on the might of the advancing Russian troops just as the movie comes to a close. All-in-all a fantastic war movie not just for Peckinpah fans but all movie lovers alike.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cross of Iron, 9 Feb. 2013
This review is from: Cross Of Iron (Digitally Restored) [DVD] [1977] (DVD)
Firstly ignore the Amazon.co.uk reviewer who appears to have been watching something else (Max Schell not James Mason played the Iron Cross seeking officer) and ends by telling us to go and watch something else,this film as already stated by others is one of the best. A classic right up there with the finest.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing, 24 May 2014
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This review is from: Cross Of Iron (Digitally Restored) [DVD] [1977] (DVD)
It is hard to grasp that it is something like 37 years since I first saw this movie and, watching the DVD, there was nothing about it to suggest that it wasn't made yesterday. The colour and sound is fine, the rendition as excellent as I remember it and the opening montage sequence still as powerful. I know I will be watching this DVD again - the quality is far better than I had even dared to hope. I gladly recommend it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great watch!, 30 April 2005
This review is from: Cross Of Iron [DVD] (DVD)
I had never heard of this film until I was browsing my local DVD store one day, and decided to purchase it as it looked good. How pleased was I! It's a brilliantly filmed war epic which truly displays the gritty horror which soliders had to endure in WW2.
It's not Sam Peckinpah's best film, as I still think Straw Dogs and The Wild Bunch cannot be beaten, however it's typical Peckinpah; loads of blood and realistic gun fights and slow motion dives of dying soliders. It's not for the faint hearted either, as there is much gore and a scene in which a woman bites off one of the soliders genitals.
The only reason I gave it 4 stars is because there are no extras, only a poxy picture gallery and filmography. If a film like this is going to be re-released on DVD, it deserves a good selection of special features. The cardboard case it comes in is great though.
Peckinpah's first and last war movie. You must own it.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cross Of Iron - A Short Review, 18 Dec. 2002
By 
anthony lawrence (Uxbridge, Middlesex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Cross Of Iron [DVD] (DVD)
Given the scale and actual chain of events in World War 2 on the Eastern Front, it was fresh to finally see a movie shot from the German army's point of view. Peckinpah's bleak vision of a doomed army awaiting defeat and retribution at the hands of a wronged and now furiously powerful enemy come late 1943 has to be one of the finest (anti) war movies I have ever seen. It is interesting to see how cleverly Peckinpah uses in the opening sequence the rousing, patriotic but chilling montage of german nursery rhyme, Nazi propaganda, ( capturing the prevalent mood of the german nation at the time, that their army was invincible ) followed by combat newsreel showing the disaster for the sixth army at Stalingrad and then the hint of the onset of likely defeat for the Thousand Year Reich that at this stage is only ten years old. Peckinpah has clearly researched his subject well, and gives us a bitter taste of the horror, widespread brutality, and downright insanity that thoroughly characterized the nature of Germany's final blitzkrieg in Europe in the greatest racial conflict in all military history.
Central to the plot are the two main characters, the well-bred but combat inexperienced Prussian military aristocrat Stransky ( played well by Max Schell ) a fellow with an invincibilty complex still believing in the unassailable superioty of the german soldier. He represents what would have been a high percentage of the officer corp in the Wehrmacht throughout World War 2. He feels he cannot return to Germany without the Iron Cross, which he intends to get by fair means or foul.
Opposite him is the battle hardened anti-authority NCO Corporal Steiner ( played by James Coburn ) who has come to realise long ago that the campaign that decides the outcome of World War 2 for the axis powers is now doomed, and is resigned to final defeat, if not now, then in the future. His only remaining concern throughout the movie is to ensure that both he and all the remaining members of his platoon survive the war. His anger at the stupidity of continuing to fight for a doomed, flawed cause is directed primarily at the officer corp, for which Stransky makes a particularly good outlet, although as the film progresses, Steiner falls out with the one officer ( played by a thoroughly defeated and disinterested James Mason ) who quietly has similar views to him and has granted him unusual freedoms in the past.
In an interesting and probably coincidental reflection of german fortunes on the eastern front, the conflict between Steiner and Stransky closely mirrors the historical political wrangling between the Nazi party, German Army and their war production efforts that in many ways may have cost Germany the war.
The films' central themes of brutality, horror and the low price of human lives are supported by a plot revealing betrayal, cowardice, some humanity, but then revenge, murder and a determination to live in a film which reaches a nasty climax in which a fair majority of the characters in Steiner's platoon meet a grisly end when it seems they might just escape. The film, probably rightly, leaves you with a sense of regret, the bitter taste of defeat, but most importantly the notion that war is a senseless, amoral waste of young mens lives that nothing can justify.
Overall, the films set pieces are staged excellently with Peckinpah's trademark slow motion deaths littered throughout the movie, and with a combined German / English team behind the production, technical accuracy is generally superb throughout ( with one exception - although it is true to say that only a few hundred of the T34-85s had been delivered to the Red Army in late 1943, there is a scene where the Red Army commit an entire company of these new vehicles to overrun Steiner's battalion and force a rout from their entrenched positions, when in fact these were all employed to keep Germany's exhausted Panzer divisions on the back foot right up till the war's end. )
The film gets a 5/5, and is a must-see movie for anyone interested in World War 2 films with real grit.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cross of Iron blu-ray, 19 Jun. 2011
By 
mr david cairns "wesnut" (kennoway, fife Great Britain) - See all my reviews
For any fans of Cross of Iron this blu-ray is a MUST-BUY!!!!
The picture quality is the best it,s ever going to be,a huge jump in quality over the standard dvd,it,s not the same quality as Zulu/The Searchers,what is,but compared to the dvd,and that,s the comparison we should always make,blu-ray/dvd,the picture quality is excellent,soft but clear,the longer the film goes on the better the PQ is.
A wee disappointment was the sound,but this film was made in the mid-70,s remember.
The blu-ray has an excellent documentary about Sam Peckinpah too.
All in all,Cross of Iron blu-ray is a MUST-BUY,the guys who restored this gem of a war movie deserve every plaudit going,a marvellous restoration.
Davy Cairns,Scotland.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cross Of Iron., 12 Oct. 2003
This review is from: Cross Of Iron [DVD] (DVD)
Has to be my all time favourite. Shows the real struggles within the German Army, from the proud Prussian aristocracy, the Fanatic and the Ordinary soldier. How survival was the main issue of the day. Really great to see the German angle of the war. Most other films give the impression that all Germans were fanatics but this film puts this notion to rest.I must recommend it to everybody who enjoys a great film. If it is not already, it soon will become one of the all time classic war films.
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