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When Trumpets Fade [DVD]
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Towards the end of World War Two, American troops based in Europe see the success of D-Day as a sign that they will soon return home. However, the Battle of Hurtgen forest claims 24,000 lives in just three months. Private David Manning is promoted for his bravery after carrying a wounded comrade to safety and reluctantly placed in charge of raw recruits. Manning's only thoughts are of escape from the carnage of war as he embarks on a final mission.
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Top Customer Reviews
It is set during the battle of Hurtgen Forest, a particularly bloody battle in American history. Focusing on lowly Private D. Manning, the film begins as he carries the only other man from his platoon that wasn't massacred through the misty woods. Nobody except him knows what befell the unit, and frankly nobody cares, as he is immediately, against his will, promoted to Sergeant and sent back in to the "Death Factory" with a batch of fresh recruits. For him, history seems to be repeating itself, certain that these youngsters are soon to die as well.
If Private Ryan's style of shooting evoked combat footage, this musters something of the feeling of war photography, framing the story neatly and functionally, and often fading into sepia tones like O Brother, Where Art Thou? Directed by John Irvine it bears resemblances to Hamburger Hill but certainly stands on its own two feet.
The strength of the film over others is the central character's ambiguity. Is he a reluctant fighter, some sort of lucky freak, or just a plain heartless coward? It is certain, however, that this man is no hero.
The cast is completed made up of unknowns, none of which have really got anywhere since which is unfortunate as the acting is largely strong. Where the film fails, inevitably, compared to Ryans' big-budget spectacle, is its action, shot more traditionally. But don't miss it- this is a benchmark for how TV should be made
Director John Irvin made earlier (in 1987) another excellent (and also little known) war film, "Hamburger Hill". In this one he did almost as well. As for "Hamburger Hill" he selected actors who are not really known (well, at least I didn't know them) and he worked them very hard indeed - in the film we can almost REALLY see the terminal exhaustion slowly breaking people who just reached the very limit of their strength... As in "Hamburger Hill", the cast is exclusively male, the language is strong and the occasional jokes fly at the lowest possible level... However the butcher bill in this film is much, much heavier than in "Hamburger Hill" as here, the enemy has not only light weapons but also artillery and tanks.
Most of this movie was turned in a natural park in Hungary and the forest is indeed a very savage place, with enough fog and undergrowth to hide entire squads waiting in ambush, and enough steep hills and muddy banked rivers to stop in its tracks any amount of armor - which is exactly what happened in 1944-45 in the Hurtgen Forest and what made this battle so bloody for both sides. With only a handful of tanks managing to slip here or there and the positions of both sides being so close (sometimes only 25 metres separated Americans from Germans!Read more ›
The film itself portrays a campaign which itself was overshadowed by the 'Battle of the Bulge' although it claimed the lives of thousands of Americans. The film itself avoids a hollywood style affair and also uses a mainly unknown cast yet the acting in the movie is consistently spot-on. The camera angles used also add to the films quality.
Overall this film is perhaps the hollywood blockbuster that never was combining the gritty detail of 'Saving Private Ryan' with the emotional struggles portrayed in 'The Thin Red Line'. I recommend that you buy this spectacular film and I'm sure that you will find it a great movie.
By Ed Hughes (15)
The story itself is fiction and follows pvt Manning, the sole survivor of his group as he must lead new recruits into the meat grinder and is promoted against his wishes. Many of his comrades consider him to be flawed and question why he is alive when everyone else is dead. The new recruits must learn fast or die. So even if the story is fiction it tries to capture the spirit of the battle and its message is War is Hell.
War movie buffs will like it, attention is given to detail and even though it is a television production there are a lot of extras making the scenes convincing. Special mention should go to Martin Donovan as Capt. Roy Pritchett, pvt Mannings Company Commander. An intelligent man who sees the futility of the battle but must soldier on and push his men into the meat grinder while he wants nothing more than to keep them alive. A very strong preformance.
The script is well written and has connections to older war movies that some may spot and the story progresses well.
I enjoyed it and thought it was good and it has a worthy place in my collection.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was encouraged to watch this from the other reviews posted on Amazon. However, I found this film decidedly disappointing. Read morePublished 7 days ago by C. C. Dyer
This is not a terrible film, but neither is it anything special. The opening sequence made me think it might by a cut above the ordinary, and it does have some good moments mixed... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Big Cheese