When Trumpets Fade

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Epinions Product Rating: Excellent
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When Trumpets Fade (1998)

Feb 10, 2000
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:story, characters, direction

Cons:stereotypical confrontations, grim

HBO has a reputation for making the best made-for-TV films. "When Trumpets Fade" won't change that evaluation. It is an intense, grim war drama based on an obscure World War II battle with the Germans that cost 24,000 American lives. Continuing recent interpretation, war is depicted as a grisly, evil force in which there are no heroes or villains, only the dead and survivors.

It is late 1944. American GIs are pushing into Germany, but are overextended, and the Germans are putting up stiff resistance. The casualties are devastating: Private Manning (Ron Eldard) is the only survivor from his squad. Promoted to sergeant over his own objections, he is now forced to share his battlefield survival skills and experience, putting his life at increasing risk.

Manning's character is open to interpretation. He is not exactly a coward, but he certainly prefers some other guy to get shot instead. This extends to his field leadership; he has fresh-faced recruit Sanderson (Zak Orth) take the risks as point man, and in the assaults on the tanks and 88mm guns he waves the other soldiers forward. This is perhaps as it should be, since the other soldiers must be trained, and their lives are less valuable to the Army.

"When Trumpets Fade" succeeds in its depiction of battle scenes. However, Manning's heated conversations with his superiors aren't as credible. Officers generally come off poorly. Captain Pritchett (Martin Donovan) prefers to remain in safety while ordering his sergeant to lead raw troops to their certain death. Lt. Lukas (Timothy Olyphant) comes off even worse, turning into a shell-shocked coward on the battlefield.

"When Trumpets Fade" is a minor but respectable entry in the crowded genre of war films. While perhaps not worth tracking down, it is worth seeing if it happens to be on and your other cable movie channel is busy showing "Bride of Chucky". (61/100)


Recommend this product? Yes


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