27 June 2014 | gudrunh-794-69037
A simple message
While Goebbels may have seen no great artistic merit in this movie, that wasn't of course a reason to dismiss it. Its appeal was to the Volksgenossen, and intended to create positive national sentiments.
Pretty much most every propaganda button is pressed, as it should be; no, as it must be, and in this it is no different from any similarly pitched movie, from any side of any trench in any war. Subtlety is lost on the masses and sledge-hammers are very good at cracking nuts. There is though, no tug on the heart strings that other examples of the propagandist's art such as Hitlerjunge Quex or Ohm Kruger, do so well.
Ritter has embraced all branches of the armed forces and from each planted examples of daring-do. Included is a Luftwaffe rescue from English soil and the Kriegsmarine ensuring that their once captive compatriots reach safety in the warm and welcoming arms of the Spanish.
The enemy here – the British, French and Poles - are treated with contempt and disdain: at once gullible, manipulative, conniving and treacherous, not to mention swarthy or subject to unflattering camera angles and lighting. They are no match at all really for German industry, bravery and cunning. And that relentless good humour and stoicism!
It is the German who is sporting; who is honest and forthright in his and her intentions.
While for the military hardware enthusiast, this movie doesn't quite rank with Besatzung Dora, DIII 88 or Stukas! (all of which are also available from IHF), there are nonetheless fine moments to be had.
This particular print is generally an excellent one, even if the sound is sometimes a little muddy. Subtitling was a challenge though in that much dialogue literally flies off the screen. A good case perhaps for less being more. But who am I to quibble? Despite the inclusion of the ubiquitous but execrable Carl Raddatz, for which I've docked it a star, this is a fine example of Ritter's superior skills, and the art of not so subtle movie making with a message. Even if delivered wrapped around a brick.