War seen through the eyes of Serra, a university student from Palermo who volunteers in 1942 to fight in Africa. He is assigned to the Pavia Division on the southern line in Egypt. Rommel ...
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A true story about four Allied POWs who endure harsh treatment from their Japanese captors during World War II while being forced to build a railroad through the Burmese jungle. Ultimately ... See full summary »
David L. Cunningham
Drama-documentary recounting the events of the 1st July 1916 and the Battle of the Somme on the Western Front during the First World War. Told through the letters and journals of soldiers who were there.
War seen through the eyes of Serra, a university student from Palermo who volunteers in 1942 to fight in Africa. He is assigned to the Pavia Division on the southern line in Egypt. Rommel and the Axis forces are bogged down; it's October, the British prepare an offensive. At first, boredom, heat, hunger, and thirst bedevil the Italians; then the Brits attack, and there's no luck or heroism in death. Finally, it's retreat in confusion. Serra, his sergeant Rizzo, and his lieutenant Fiori take a last walk toward home. It's said that each soldier gets three miracles; when Serra's are used up, what then?Written by
A rare chance to get the Italian perspective on WWII in the desert
History has not been kind to the Italian army for it's efforts in WWII, garnering a rather depressing image. Ill-equipped, ill-trained and ill-led, they were trounced by the British in North Africa prior to Rommel and the Afrika Korp's arrival, and later gave up the ghost in their own country with little resistance. So it is interesting to get the viewpoint of that nation on the subject of their part in the war. This film portrays the trials of a division on the front. It dispenses with the traditional war movie clichés, guns blazing, American heroics, you're more than familiar with it... choosing instead to focus more on the lives of the soldiers who have tired of a conflict that is heading nowhere bar the inevitable defeat whilst the British horde their forces. The initial hour covers small tales and little moments that break the boredom of life on the immobile front. An artillery attack here, a swim in the ocean there, a bullet dodged, a mortar shell detonating just far enough away to allow the soldiers to see another day. I enjoy this style of movie, where it does not attempt to tell a grand story, rather give us an insight into how people cope with being alive in such a morbid situation.
The second half of the film sees the British finally assault the Italian lines, which are overwhelmed by the sheer weight of numbers that are brought to bear. The division is over-run and forced to retreat, and no longer is anything relevant to these men but the slim hope of survival, pushing on, hoping to make it home. Ridiculous orders to stand fast come down from Il Duce, far removed from the ravages of desert war. The film becomes a detached, dreamlike affair as the dwindling force stumbles through the dry desert, pushed westward, severely lacking food and water.
This film may also hold the distinction of being the only WWII movie to feature full frontal male nudity, but I can't qualify that comment. Beyond that, this is an excellent movie - devoid of the trappings of Hollywood and presenting the conflict from the viewpoint of a bitter, soul-crushing defeat for the Italians. They may have been over-matched, but they were no different to any other soldier who just wanted to make it to the end of the war.
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