In 1977 a war movie was released that followed a German platoon and was a massive anti-war story.
It bombed almost everywhere except Germany, which isn’t that surprising as the Cold War was still going on, but also, you know, Star Wars came out.
46 years later I heard of it for the first time, and have finally witnessed and appreciated this gem.
Cross of Iron kicks off with a German platoon taking out a bunch of Soviets led by their sergeant before returning to their base. When they get back they discover a Captain who has come from occupied France, for the honorable reason of wanting to earn his Iron Cross for status reasons. When the camp is attacked Steiner finds himself waking up in a hospital.
Steiner jumps at the chance to go back to fighting, not because of believing in the cause, but because fighting is what he does.Returning he discovers that this fancy pants captain has claimed to have led the troops to drive the Soviets out from the attack and wanting to get his Iron Cross.
We then follow the story as an actual soldier deals with a rich boy trying to earn his stripes without earning his stripes.
I don’t want to spoil Cross Of Iron more than that because the story holds up better than you may expect.
There is a weird feeling where because the actors all have varying accents, you regularly forget they are portraying Germans in WW2.
This works in the movie’s favor as it winds up being a story about a class system, and rich fancy boys vs men doing the actual work. Then you remember that even the good guys were, you know, German soldiers in WW2 which is an uncomfortable feeling.
This movie holds up so damn well. There is the odd scene where effects are dated as hell, but it is incredibly rare. The acting is very solid, especially given it’s time, and the bulk of the effects are practical so they stand up so well.
As a package, this release is a stone cold banger.
There is the 4K UHD disc which looks fantastic. Then there is a blu-ray disc of the same content. The third disc is a pretty special gem. The Grindhouse version of the movie is pulled from the old original film. It gives the whole movie a grainy look that feels even more legitimate for it’s time and is a cool as hell addition to the collection. There are a handful of great features in there too which is especially impressive given the age of the movie.
If you are a fan of the Cross of Iron then this is a package you need to add to your collection. If, like me, you hadn’t seen it before then you need to check it out.
The movie isn’t perfect, but for a movie that old telling a war story that still holds up, that is a feat that you deserve to see.