“The lives lost were precious lives — to their country, to their loved ones, and to the men themselves.”
Allied soldiers fight valiantly to liberate the rocky village of San Pietro from German forces.
John Huston’s documentary about the WWII Battle of San Pietro was considered too “anti-war” by the U.S. military to be seen in its original form, and was cut from five reels to only three; most existing prints run approximately 33 minutes long. Yet even this minimal footage makes for powerful viewing, with the action so vivid and gritty that one is amazed Huston and his crew managed to escape death while filming in the midst of it. It’s a shock to watch these handsome, grinning soldiers returning from the hills in white body bags, especially knowing that losses were so high (approximately 1,100 men needed to be “replaced” by the end). Although the final scenes of grateful Italian peasants were likely added for propaganda purposes, this footage, too, remains fascinating, simply for the valuable ethnographic glimpse it affords.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- A no-holds-barred look at the real-life casualties of war
- Footage of grateful Italian peasants after San Pietro has been liberated
Yes. This powerful documentary remains must-see viewing simply for its historical importance.
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)