2000s Saints and Soldiers (2003)

Published on March 25th, 2008 | by Chris


Saints and Soldiers (2003)

Reviewed by:
On March 25, 2008
Last modified:October 6, 2012


Hunt down and watch Saints and Soldiers, if nothing else to get a refreshing and different perspective on the business of war, and what it means to be in it.

Saints and Soldiers (2003)Saints and Soldiers is by far the best war movie I've never heard of before.  Yes, it really is that good.  Starting off with a frank depiction of the Malmedy massacre of Allied soldiers by the Germans, Saints continues on into an incredible story of humanity and survival.  This tale is at the same time beautiful, and incredibly difficult to watch.

Every aspect of this film just blew me away, from the acting from a band of relative unknowns, the soundtrack, the camera work, the writing and the direction.  Sure there were a couple of moments I winced, but nobody's perfect, but this is really, really close.

Fleeing from the massacre are four US soldiers: Medic Gould (Alexander Polinksy), Private Kendrick (Larry Bagby), Sgt. Gunderson (Bill Pullman look-alike Peter Holden), and the real star of the film, Cpl. Greer (Corbin Allred) aka. "Deacon."  Along the way they pick up a downed British pilot, Winley (Kirby Heyborne.)

Their mission, at least once they pick up Winley, is to get him and the important intelligence information he carries back into Allied hands.  However, things are never quite that simple, and frankly the mechanics of the plot aren't what makes this film so great.

Saints and Soldiers is primarily an exploration of the men who fight, and that's where Deacon comes in.  Deacon has, quite by accident, done some terrible things in this war, despite his clean-cut and straight-laced persona (hence the nickname "Deacon.)  Because of this, he's suffering from a bout of shell shock, and at times puts the rest of his group in jeopardy.  Throughout the picture, Gunderson is looking after Deacon, trying his best to stick up for him, and keep him safe until he can get help.

Deacon also has been in Germany before, and has a certain connection with the people, as he was a missionary before the war.  As luck would have it, he runs across one of his former acquaintances, who helps them out of a predicament.

I could go into more detail about the plot, but I really don't want to ruin it.  The story is one about humanity.  That we're all more-or-less the same no matter which side we're on.  That sometimes doing what's right is more important.  Actually the film takes on an almost religious overtone at times, which is not a bad thing.  There are questions asked and discussed about what it means to be doing what they're doing, what happens to us, how we find redemption from it.

The only complaint I can think of would be the soundtrack, which for the most part is an excellent compliment to the film, but at times borrows heavily in sentiment from "Saving Private Ryan."  With the somber horns and snare rolls... when you hear it you'll know what I mean.

Surprisingly for a modern war picture, there isn't a lot of profanity, either.  Actually I'm struggling to remember a single instance.  You'll see this film rated 'R' in some places, and the DVD I saw had a PG-13 rating on it.  That actually surprised me given the "frankness" of the opening scenes of the Malmedy massacre.

The performances from all were well beyond what I had expected from a little-known film like this.  In fact, their combined performance, along with the brilliant direction is what brings me to the final nine for this picture.  It's a roller-coaster of emotion, and indeed suspense, and I'd rank the final "shootout" scene right up there with any scene from "Ryan" any day.

Hunt down and watch Saints and Soldiers, if nothing else to get a refreshing and different perspective on the business of war, and what it means to be in it.

Saints & Soldiers Saints & Soldiers
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Based on actual WWII events, the award winning Saints and Soldiers tells the dramatic story of a small band of Allied Soldiers trapped behind enemy lines with information that could save thousands of American lives...

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audience Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Manufacturer: Excel Entertainment Group
Original Release Date:
  • Corbin Allred
  • Alexander Polinsky
  • Kirby Heyborne
  • Larry Bagby
  • Peter Holden


Customer Reviews
Average Customer Review

282 of 297 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A moving, thoroughly absorbing film, June 3, 2005
Alejandra Vernon (Granada, Nicaragua) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Saints & Soldiers (DVD)
"Saints and Soldiers" is a gripping account of four soldiers who escape the brutal Malmedy Massacre in December, 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge. They are behind enemy lines, sleepless, hungry, and just trying to survive, when they find a downed British flight sergeant, whose mission is to reach allied troops with important coded information, so together they make the arduous and dangerous journey with that end in mind.
The plot is a compilation of true stories, and even the one that seems improbable, the meeting of the American and German soldiers who were friends before the war, was taken from a real event.

This film puts a human face on the horror of war. We get to know these men, their fears and their bravery, and they are characters who stay with you long after the film is over. Made on a tiny budget of under $ 1,000,000 in less than a month, with a cast of unknown actors, this film has won numerous awards, and deservedly so. Shot on location in Utah, which... Read more
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60 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best War Film This Year!, July 17, 2005
Gregory Canellis (Tuckerton, NJ USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Saints & Soldiers (DVD)
"Saints and Soldiers" could arguably be the best war film to emerge this year. Director Ryan Little packed a lot of punch into this low-budget war drama. It is not surprising that this film has won a slew of best picture awards at film festivals nationwide. Although supposedly based on actual events, Geoffrey Panos' screenplay stretches the historical truth somewhat. Nevertheless, "Saints and Soldiers" surely earned a place among the ranks of such films as "Saving Private Ryan," and "Band of Brothers." The film centers around the infamous Malmedy Massacre (Dec. 17, 1944) where eighty-six American prisoners-of-war were murdered by a German SS unit during the open phases of The Battle of the Bulge. Forty-three survived by faining death, or escaping into near-by woods. The film tells the story of five of those survivors hiding in the frozen snow covered Ardennes Forest evading the onrushing German spearheaded Panzer columns. When a downed British pilot is discovered with vital photo... Read more
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Anti-War-Movie, solid and recommendable, October 31, 2009
This review is from: Saints & Soldiers (DVD)
The so-called "Malmédy Massacre" is the debut of this stunning movie, which was produced with a budget under USD 1 Mio, but still comes up with astonishingly good equipment, particularly in the few fighting scenes.

The real circumstances of the Malmédy incident have - and probably never will be - fully clarified. SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lt. Col.) Joachim Peiper, who was later held responsible for the alleged massacre in the Dachau trials, had long left the scene when it occurred. SS-Sturmbannführer (Maj.) Werner Pötschke, whom Peiper had left in charge, didn't survive the war. Thus, there was and is no way to find out about a possible chain of commands.

In "Saints and Soldiers", the incident is caused by a POW who is trying to run away and gets shot, causing further panic and a spontaneous escalation of the dense situation, until the SS guards open machine gun fire on the POWs. I was surprised to watch a US movie coming up with this... Read more
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Saints and Soldiers (2003) Chris

Summary: Hunt down and watch Saints and Soldiers, if nothing else to get a refreshing and different perspective on the business of war, and what it means to be in it.


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About the Author

I've been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I've been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.

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