Published on March 25th, 2008 | by Chris0
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
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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 InformationBinding: 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
273 of 288 people found the following review helpful
A moving, thoroughly absorbing film,
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
60 of 64 people found the following review helpful
Best War Film This Year!,
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
133 of 155 people found the following review helpful
War and forgiveness,
This review is from: Saints & Soldiers (DVD)My 18 year old son and I just got back from watching "Saints and Soldiers," a PG-13 film set during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. While this film has many of the qualities of a classic war film, I doubt that it will ever be a blockbuster, mainly because it's too "Christian."
While a bunch of American prisoners of war are gunned down by the Germans during an escape attempt, a few manage to get away. One of them has the nickname "Deacon," because he doesn't swear or drink (including coffee) and he reads his Bible a lot.
As this ragtag group attempts to sneak back to the front while behind enemy lines, you learn bits and pieces about the backgrounds of these GIs, and the one smug British pilot who parachuted to safety near where they were hiding. Although "Deke" is suffering from battle fatigue, as well as guilt for accidentally killing a family, he manages to share some of his story with the atheist medic.
I don't want to give away any more of... Read more
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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.