This WW2 psychological drama plays out at Christmas. US GIs hold an isolated cabin in the Ardennes against a handful of Germans cut off from their main force. Combat-weary and short of rations, both sides are determined to survive.
In WWII Western Germany, Private David Manning reluctantly leaves behind a mortally wounded fellow soldier and searches for survivors from his platoon, only to learn from commanding officer Captain Pritchett that they have all been killed in action. Despite requesting a discharge on the grounds of mental disability, Manning is promoted to sergeant and assigned to lead a new platoon of young inductees. Written by
There are no female roles or lines spoken by women in the entire film. See more »
The map used by the Lt. Col. at the company command post to show the Captain where they are to secure a river crossing on the advance to Schmidt is not standard U.S. Army issue, which were black and white, but a modern color version mounted on cardboard. See more »
Narrator, news footage:
August 1944. The outcome of the Second World War appeared to be no longer in doubt. Paris was liberated. After four years of fighting, victory against the Germans seemed assured. Since the Normandy landings, American and Allied forces had battled their way across northern Europe, and pushed the German enemy to within its own homeland.
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Due to the fact that the two films came out close together, it is tempting to compare When Trumpets Fade to Saving Private Ryan. This would be a mistake. Unlike Private Ryan, Trumpets is not an epic set to a background of a crucial point in history, like D-Day, nor are the central characters members of an elite unit who are given a "heroic" assignment. Instead, the main character, Manning (Eldard), starts off as a private reluctant to risk his life, but who finds himself promoted and burdened with increasing responsibilities he does not want as his unit suffers horrendous attrition attempting to fight its way into Germany in late 1944. Manning's dilemma both contrasts and parallels that of his company commander, Captain Pritchett (Donovan), who has to balance achieving the objectives he has been assigned and keeping as many of his men alive as he can, and succeeding at neither. The greatest contrast with Private Ryan, however, comes in the form of the replacement troops, all green recruits with no combat experience - a far cry from Captain Miller's seasoned Rangers. Rounding it off is Dwight Yoakam as the nameless battalion commander who is unapologetic about driving his men to the slaughter, but whose face betrays the fact that, as with Captain Pritchett, their deaths weigh heavily upon him. When Trumpets Fade successfully showcases combat at its most gruesome and frustrating as Captain Pritchett's company batters itself to pieces against its target with nothing to show for the effort and bravery of the men except an ever-increasing pile of American corpses. But we get two good looks at the face of a German squad leader, portrayed by Frank-Michael Köbe, and in it we can see the despondency of a man who knows that he is fighting only to postpone the inevitable defeat of his country. A gritty, realistic, and depressing, but nonetheless excellent film.
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