Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Battle of San Pietro (1945)

Real soldiers, real death, but no humanity in this Doc

Genre: War Documentary Short

Narrated By: John Huston (Chinatown; Cannery Row)

Directed By: John Huston (Annie; The African Queen)

Overview: This documentary details the Italian battle of San Pietro, a small village and their surrounding hills. Over 1000 American Soldiers died taking this valuable target, punching through the Southern front line.

Acting: This director did Treasure of The Sierra Madre, Key Largo, The Red Badge Of Courage. These are classics! My tip to Huston? Stay in Adventure and Film Noir. The narration was something out of a recruitment video. Ugh, so bland! No interviews or anything besides his own yappin'.
Rating: 4

Cinematography: The cannon shots and the smoke on the hill, the crying peasants and children, that's powerful enough stuff, if they hadn't sterilized it with all the military talk and all the repeat shots of the same stock footage. Obviously they had nowhere enough film to make a full documentary, but that seems to be the curse of the low-budget doc: constant repetition of the same shot.
Rating: 4

Script: How dry is a telling of military targets full of numbers and pointing at maps? Dry enough to pick up my 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die with an eyebrow raised and keep browsing through it while the movie went on. This was too flag waving for me, and "the ultimate futility of war" that I read about? No Sir, didn't catch that one bit.
Rating: 3

Plot: Totally and utterly boring. I found myself wondering why this was considered a classic documentary to the point that it's quite possible I was watching the wrong one. This seemed more like some dry military debriefing report rather the impassioned tale of tragic sacrifice that I read about. I disliked this so much that when the second little movie came on, I stopped the tape altogether.
Rating: 2

Mood: The mood I expected was one of death and sadness with a small victory that did not amount to the sacrifice of the men, a tragic tale of the fight against the Germans. I don't know what message they tried to get through to me, but it seemed like they met their objective and headed straight towards Berlin partly due to this advance, though difficult it was. This is not D-Day or Dieppe class tragedy. It didn't get the intended message across, period.
Rating: 3

The rare shots of the people behind the action. Sadly the film focuses on terrain maps and little flags and pointers.

Overall Rating: 32% (The Battle To Stay Awake...)

Aftertaste: A completely forgettable and bland film about the seeming tragedy of war. Only took it from the library because it was in my 1001 Movies book, and I found it a complete waste of time. Number 47 on my list? Booooring.