The intentions of the filmmaker are obvious. Pacifism, realism, surrealism all mix into the celluloid brew that is concocted by director Keith Gordon. For those who do not have a vast exposure to cinema this effort would seem like a breath of fresh air.
If you consider pacifism and realism in World War II movies, "The Thin Red Line" of Terrence Mallick would make this film look juvenile in every department. If you consider surrealism in World War II movies, Sydney Pollack's "Castle Keep" and Mike Nichol's "Catch 22" are far superior in comparison to this effort.
Keith Gordon's well-intentioned film has several flaws. Someone with basic sense of visuals can see that the film is not shot in Europe. You see a young deer walk out of an abandoned house past soldier crouching with rifles just as a pet dog walks by the master in the master's house. Intelligent young soldiers drop their weapons in a knee jerk reaction to the enemy pointing rifles at them. Gordon could have made the action a bit slower to make the incident more credible.
The treatment of sound and music is like a breath of fresh air if you are not exposed to European cinema. The build up to consensual sex with a soldier's girlfriend reminds one of films made in France in the Sixties, including the shot of the girl walking between four soldiers on the road the next day. Most of the actors in the movie are credible most of the time.
I saw this film, probably a censored version, on late-night TV in Dubai. After the film ended the "realistic" treatment of the story seemed too artificial. It was a laudable effort that lacked punch. Compared to Pollack's "Castle Keep", this is kid stuff. Noting the positive comments of other viewers, I think "Castle Keep" deserves a re-release for today's audiences to savor and appreciate.
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