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Movie Review

When Trumpets Fade

MPAA Rating: R for graphic war carnage and strong language

Reviewed by: Brett Willis

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Mature Teen to Adult
War Drama
1 hr. 33 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
Relevant Issues
Box art for “When Trumpets Fade”

What is the Biblical perspective on war? Answer

Featuring: Ron Eldard, Zak Orth, Frank Whaley, Dylan Bruno, Martin Donovan, Timothy Olyphant, Dan Futterman, Dwight Yoakam
Director: John Irvin
Producer: John Kemeny
Distributor: HBO

This film, highlighting the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest in late 1944, is of average production quality for its type. Worth watching if you’re a war movie fan.

The Allied advance has temporarily stalled; the Germans are now defending their own country rather than occupied territory and are showing more resistance. Casualties are very high. Private David Manning (Ron Eldard, “Deep Impact”) wants out. He repeatedly asks for a Section 8 (mental disability); but instead, he keeps getting promoted to higher responsibility. Does he survive combat situations because he’s a natural leader with battlefield instincts, or because he’s a slacker? You be the judge. Another interesting character is Sanderson (Zak Orth), an overweight, bespectacled replacement whom his buddies call “a dumb #@%* farmer from Wisconsin.” we’d assume that he’d be an immediate casualty when put into the line; but it turns out that he quickly learns the ropes.

Content Warnings: The profanity is severe, as is normal for an R-rated military film. The simulated battlefield violence is a mixture of “old-style” and “graphic.” We get to see a wide range of human responses to combat, including brave and not-so-brave. Manning executes one of his own men who retreats, to prevent him from spooking the rest of the squad; and in the opening sequence, Manning may or may not have engaged in “mercy killing.”

I have a strong interest in WWII films. I wouldn’t add this title to my personal video library, but I might watch it again sometime.

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