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Plot: In 1943, in the Russian front, the decorated leader Rolf Steiner is promoted to Sergeant after another successful mission. Meanwhile the upper-class and arrogant Prussian Captain Hauptmann ... Runtime: 132 mins Release Date: 26 Jun 1977
When Nazi Germany invaded The Soviet Union in 1941 it led to the worst carnage in human history . From June 1941 to the final battle of Berlin in April 1945 the conflict between the Nazis and red army cost the lives of 35 million people. IF you look upon the war between Hitler and Stalin as being separate from all the other campaigns of conflict in the second world war then the campaign in Eastern Europe is the bloodiest conflict in the history of mankind. Something that seems very unlikely to be exceeded . Alas however western film makers seem reluctant to acknowledge this . Off the top of <more>
my head I can think of only 3 American / European movies to be set on the Eastern front: ENEMY AT THE GATES , STALINGRAD and CROSS OF IRON.I first saw CROSS OF IRON in 1983 and have seen it umpteen times since then. This is an intelligent anti war classic and I never get bored with it. James Coburn , star of many a forgettable lightweight caper movie is perfect as the cynical Sgt Steiner. For the first time in his career he shows he has presence and probably gives his best performance in any film . James Mason is also good , though you have admit has Mason ever been bad ? but the best performance award goes to Maximillian Schell as the villain of the piece. It`d be all too easy to have Schell as a goosestepping Nazi , but Schell`s character is a Prussian aristocrat opposed to fascist egalitarianism . He dislikes the Nazis almost as much as Steiner does.That`s one of many good aspects of the script , it`s so thoughtful and with one exception it doesn`t show any of the Germans as out and out idealogue fascists. But notice the couple of ironic touches in the film where people say the excuse of " I obey orders. It was none of my doing. I was not responsible " Something that has been said a lot of times during the last century , and the century before that , and the one before that. Guess if you travelled a thousand years` in the future we`d still be hearing that. I also find the script perfectly paced, CROSS OF IRON lasts nearly two and a half hours but no matter how many times I watch it I never find it dragging in any way. I sometimes watch SAVING PRIVATE RYAN but I only watch the first half hour and last half hour `cos the middle of SPR is totally tedious. CROSS OF IRON has a much better script.Maybe the battle scenes of SPR are slightly more gory but at best they`re only as good as the ones in this film. I`d say this is Peckinpah`s best film . The editing during the battle scenes are absolutely superb as we see Soviet soldiers in slo mo , Germans in real time, cutting back to Soviets in real time then Germans in slo mo. Then seeing a cross cut with a Soviet and German dying at the same time.A classic and unforgivably forgotten film set during the worst conflict in history . In my opinion the greatest WW2 film ever surpassing even DAS BOOT
Cross Of Iron is a masterpiece, one of the greatest anti-war, anti-authoritarian movies. It is one of director Sam Peckinpah's two finest works -- the other being The Wild Bunch. It deserves to be ranked in the same great war movie company as Apocalypse Now, Das Boot, Full Metal Jacket, Paths Of Glory, Saving Private Ryan, Seven Samurai, and Zulu. Its setting on the World War Two Eastern Front, its gruesomeness, and its risk-taking viewpoint on ugly combat from the German side, have tended to count against fair assessment of its considerable artistic achievements. Viewers wary of the <more>
morality of its German viewpoint and its explicitness might find that it is fundamentally about humanity in general as a victim of war. The film reflects on the humanity which may be found on all sides of conflict--including Russian humanity portrayed variously as relentless, innocent, brave, and feminine.Cross Of Iron opens with an intense, chilling montage of nursery rhyme, propaganda, combat newsreel and atrocity. By the end of the main title the montage subtly introduces the central characters, a German reconnaissance unit patrolling on the 1943 Russian front.This 1977 film set rarely matched standards of cinematic mayhem. Cross Of Iron explosions don't look merely like pretty fireballs -- they blast fragments, rocks and debris, leaving no doubt as to why blood gouts from stumps of limbs and shrapnel-shredded entrails. Amid the screams of wounded and dying, as dust subsides from a mortar barrage, an artillery piece shorn of its crew by a near hit swings across a pocked battlefield, its traversing wheel spinning under its own momentum. The carnage occurs in the choreographed slow motion which Peckinpah made his signature.James Coburn turns in one of his finest roles as Rolf Steiner, a highly decorated NCO who leads a German reconnaissance squad. Steiner fights less for his country than for his comrades. He has low opinions of class and rank distinctions. He is contemptuous both of Nazism and the aristocratic Prussian arrogance of his new superior officer, Captain Stransky, played with great style by Maximilian Schell. But there are hints of a dark side. Although Steiner is articulate and philosophical he has no answer when his love interest during an enforced break from battle, nurse Eva Senta Berger , bitterly accuses him of being afraid of what he would be without the war.Among the many fine supporting performances, James Mason plays the war-weary Colonel Brandt. He sees the immorality and futility of German war aims, but his sense of honour and duty about the prevailing struggle makes ceasing to fight unthinkable. David Warner plays Brandt's out-of-place and out-of-time adjutant, Captain Kiesel, who represents to his colonel the hope that a more enlightened postwar Germany might arise from the ashes of inevitable defeat.War movie buffs irritated by the technical inaccuracies common in many examples of the genre will find some satisfaction in attention to authenticity of weaponry. A range of genuine WWII German and Russian small arms appears. The T 34/85 tanks are real, although the very picky might argue that this is at least six months premature, and that for the summer of '43 they should be T 34/76. Tactics at times deviate from the textbooks, but this is a drama, not a combat manual.At the time of writing, this great film of a great American director lacks the high quality collectors' edition Zone 1 DVD release it deserves. The Warner Home Video Zone 2 release available through www.amazon.co.uk has the high quality video and sound which have been missing from the non-studio Zone 1 releases. This film is a must-have for war movie fans.Update as at September 2011: It appears that only the DVD and Blu-ray releases of this film for the European market - notably those published by Studio Canal - are good quality transfers, as well as being in the original widescreen aspect ratio. Studio Canal's Blu-ray release encoded for Region B only is significantly better even than their DVD. It shows so much more detail compared to the DVD releases, for example, that the lettering and designs of German military awards like the Krim and Kuban Shield shoulder insignia can be seen clearly on screen, and wine and beer bottle labels are easily read. The Blu-ray is available from Amazon.co.uk, but can be played only on Region B-capable Blu-ray decks. Extras on this Blu-ray include a gem, a documentary by Mike Siegel called "Passion & Poetry - Sam Peckinpah's War". This gives fascinating insight into the making of "Cross of Iron" and Peckinpah's directorial style through contemporary and later interviews with James Coburn, David Warner, Senta Berger, Maximilian Schell, Roger Fritz, Vadim Glowna, Katy Haber and Peckinpah himself. It includes a shot of Peckinpah reminiscing proudly about receiving a telegram from Orson Welles saying it was 'one of the finest war films ever made'.
Underrated Anti-War classic from Sam Peckinpah. (by Captain_Couth)
Cross of Iron 1977 was a low budget masterpiece from ace director Sam Peckinpah. After having a falling out from Hollywood, Peckinpah went to Europe to direct this W.W.II. anti-war film. The film centers around Sergent Steiner, a battle weary veteran who leads his company into battle everyday for the past three years. Unlike others his only concern is the survival of his men and the fact that he's a live to live another day. One day an officer of Prussian descent Maximillian Schnell decides to make his and everyone beneath him lives miserable. James Mason plays the battle hardened <more>
Colonel whilst David Warner co-stars as his cynical aide de camp.Using the limited time and budget to it's fullest extent, Peckinpah created a very stylish and action packed film. The bullets fly, shells pound the earth and the blood flows. The editing is brilliant and the cinematography perfectly captures the action. The battles are very well staged and the acting is executed very well. James Coburn earned his stripes with this film. He's the man! Senta Berger a Peckinpah veteran from Major Dundee has a small role as a German nurse who briefly becomes involved with Sergent Steiner. What I liked about this movie was the fact that Coburn, Warner and Mason didn't bother to use fake Teutonic accents.If you're a viewer of war films or a Peckinpah fan, this has to be on top of your list. This is one hell of an action film. War will never look the same again after watching this film. Sadly the domestic D.V.D. release is not only expensive but of poor quality. Try and find and alternate way of watching this neglected masterpiece. I have to give this film a very high rating.Highest recommendation possible.
If you like anti- war movies like All Quiet on the Western Front than this is a movie you shouldn't miss (by philip_vanderveken)
I have to admit that I had some reserves about this movie before watching it. Although my mother told me this is one of her favorite war movies ever yes I know, it may sound a bit strange, but we have the same taste for war movies , I also saw a rather bad score on IMDb about 6.6 at the time . Well, now that I've seen it, I can only say that this movie will be in my top 5 of war movies. This movie shows war the way it actually is: dirty, deadly, tragic,... and with plenty of losers, but no winners. In this movie you won't find any glorification of fake patriotism or dying for a good <more>
cause that only politicians in their ivory towers seem to know. No, this movie shows the war in its purest and most horrifying form.It brings us the story of Rolf Steiner, a veteran hardened by the war, who leads his men through every battle and dangerous situation, but who also takes care that they will survive the madness. Than a Prussian officer, who volunteered to leave the quiet, battle-free world of France for the real action in Russia, joins his fighting group. The man thinks of only one thing: to get an iron cross as fast as possible, so his family can be proud and shouldn't see him as a disgrace to their military tradition. This leads to a lot of problems between the two of course and gradually the tension cumulates until it explodes... I don't know if the story is based on true facts, but the movie certainly gives a good idea of what the war at the Eastern Front was like, especially after the Germans had suffered a major loss in Stalingrad. They had to retread, but had to take care that they didn't get overwhelmed by the Soviet troops when doing so; a lot of the man had lost faith in victory; no prisoners were taken, but were shot at the spot; optimism had made place for cynicism ... It all feels very real and believable.And the feeling of realism can also be found in the way of filming. Some might say Peckinpah experimented too much with slow-motion, hand-held camera's,... but personally I believe it only gives an extra dimension to this movie, giving it that extra touch that makes it different from so many mediocre Hollywood productions. I really liked the way he followed the action closely, making you feel like you are part of it yourself, but what really sparked my interest was the contrast between the child's voice singing a "happy" song and the images of the horrors of the war at the beginning and the end of the movie. That really made shivers go down my spine.If I thought about anti-war movies, I always used to name the World War I classic "All Quiet on the Western Front" the 1930 version as well as the remake from 1979 , but from now on I'll have to add one extra movie: Cross of Iron. If you are a fan of realistic anti- war movies, than this is a movie you shouldn't miss. I give it a 9/10.
And I will show you where the Iron Crosses grow. (by Nick Beaudine)
This is one of those movies that I needed to watch a second time and do a little research on. Once again, "Bloody" Sam didn't let me down. This is definitely a different war film from its time and now. Peckinpah's directed this in a great fashion that hasn't been seen I have not seen his films since "The Wild Bunch". I was lucky enough to have found the 133 minute version in a rental store. I hope one day to see this version on DVD in widescreen. James Coburn is once again in a great role as Steiner. He is also supported by the great James Mason, Maximillian <more>
Schell in his best role since "Judgment at Nuremberg", and David Warner. The film had some fine editing and slow motion shots, good underscore, and a solid script. It is a tragedy that Peckinpah went so over budget that they had to end the movie half way through the script. I hope one day that somebody will remake this in the eyes of Peckinpah, and be able to film the entire film.
I had read reviews of cross of iron well before my recent viewing of this incredible masterpiece on our local TV station during the small hours. None have given this remarkable film any justice. No war film is so unrelenting in portraying just a small sector of the largest conflict in history. With pitiless carnage from start to finish, one wonders how any who were drafted to fight on the eastern front could survive such inferno after so many written accounts of the brutality and suffering of eastern front warfare are made visual in this film. I can't believe the compassion I could feel <more>
for the characters considering the age of the film compared with the bubblegum war films of that era. The mosaic opening scene entwining images of the phoenix rise of Germany, prosperity and incredible evil against a child's nursery rhyme left me cold. No one could have any romantic notions of modern warfare after sitting through this film.This film satisfied something in me that has brooded for a long time. I have grown physically ill of films that portray German soldiers as useless cattle that were mercilessly butchered by brave American\British supermen. The soldiers of all sides were largely boys not a lot different to each other. All sides in the conflict had their brave and humane Steiners or their callous and evil Stransky's, even those who fought to rid the world of the heinous Nazi's. Cross of Iron's closest contemporary in terms of visual repulsion and subject matter - Saving Private Ryan is simply another Hollywood Dirty Dozen in shiny new clothes. It portrays rank and file Germans and their soldiers as hideous Nazi's and paves the way throughout the film for Spielberg to inflict a glorified orgy of death upon them in the final scene which can only be described as a very personal fantasy for the director that unfortunately we are all now privy to. The image where rays of light bathe an American soldier who has murdered a surrendered prisoner like some kind of suggestive sainthood is disgraceful and who knows how many are influenced by this kind of vicious manipulation of film-making. Cross of Iron shows the wholesale slaughter of all humans in war and the increasingly hopeless situation of all involved is a physical strain upon the viewer. There is no better anti-war film.
I still rate this as the best and most honest war film I've seen. It ignores the Hollywood schmaltz that spoiled Saving Private Ryan and manages to portray the soldiers as human beings and particularly for German soldiers this is an exception. The battle scenes are expansive and very bloody as we follow the German platoon trying to get back to its own lines. The soldiers are heroes in an unheroic war and the film captures the chaos, cynicism and heroism of the German retreat. Well worth checking out.
Gritty Realistic WWII Drama (by bsmith5552)
"Cross of Iron" was Sam Peckinpah's only war movie. It deals with a company of German soldiers retreating through Russia at the close of Hitler's ill-fated Russian campaign. Unusual for a war film, the story is told from the German point of view. Being a Peckinpah film there are explosions and blood-spurting bodies a-plenty. The rough terrain and cramped quarters that the soldiers have to deal with lend well to the declining German fortunes in Russia. As in his other films, notably "The Wild Bunch", Peckinpah utilizes his now famous slow-motion technique to <more>
illustrate the violence and show the effects of the destruction. James Coburn stars as the battle wise Sgt. Steiner who has survived the war thus far by his wits. Maximillian Schell plays his aristocratic Captain whose main goal is the pursuit of the Iron Cross, Germany's highest decoration and who will go to any lengths to get it. James Mason is the Company commander and David Warner is his adjutant. Coburn is excellent in the lead who continues to do his duty in spite of the inevitability of impending defeat. Schell is suitably ambitious and cunning as the chief villain and Mason and Warner convey the hopelessness of the situation while maintaining stiff upper lips. "Cross of Iron", in it's uncut version 132 minutes ranks as one of the greatest of all WWII films in my opinion. One of Peckinpah's best.
One of the Best Movies of War of the 70's (by claudio_carvalho)
In 1943, in the Russian front, the decorated leader Rolf Steiner James Coburn is promoted to Sergeant after another successful mission. Meanwhile the upper-class and arrogant Prussian Captain Hauptmann Stransky Maximilian Schell is assigned as the new commander of his squad. After a bloody battle of Steiner's squad against the Russian troops led by the brave Lieutenant Meyer Igor Galo that dies in the combat, the coward Stransky claims that he led his squad against the Russian and requests to be awarded with the Iron of Cross to satisfy his personal ambition together with his <more>
aristocratic family. Stransky gives the names of Steiner and of the homosexual Lieutenant Triebig Roger Fritz as witnesses of his accomplishment, but Steiner, who has problems with the chain of command in the army and with the arrogance of Stransky, refuses to participate in the fraud. When Colonel Brandt James Mason gives the order to leave the position in the front, Stransky does not retransmit the order to Steiner's squad, and they are left alone surrounded by the enemy and having to fight to survive.The impact of "Iron Cross" in the 70's was amazing and even thirty years later and having watched this movie for the third time, it is still one of the best war movies of the 70's. The story disclosed from the German side, showing German soldiers as human beings was quite unusual in that decade. James Coburn has one of the best performances in his filmography, in the role of an experienced rebel soldier from the lower classes, hardened by the war, but committed with his subordinates and exerting a perfect leadership. On the other side, Maximilian Schell is also perfect in the role of an arrogant aristocrat aiming only be awarded with a medal and capable to step on his men. The scenarios and the action scenes are awesome, and the battles have an amazing choreography, with Sam Peckinpah still in good shape. Senta Berger has a minor participation, but her beauty was impressive, and I believe this was the last time that I saw a movie with this actress. My vote is eight.Title Brazil : "A Cruz de Ferro" "The Iron Cross"