I don´t really know what to say about this movie. Basically I think it is a missed chance. It contains too many flaws to be really good but still has quite a few touching moments. One would like to grab the filmmaker and give him a good shaking because it would not have needed much to be satisfying.
Everyman´s War is based on the story of Thad Smith´s, the film director´s father. Sgt. Don Smith was part of the 94th Infantry Division fighting for Nennig, a small town in Germany during the Battle of the Bulge. The Battle of the Bulge was one of those notorious big battles that had to show up with an enormous cost in lives. Being one of the decisive battles, the last big Nazi offensive, it overshadows other battles like the one at Hurtgen Forest that was so skillfully depicted in When Trumpets Fade. The battle of Bastogne Forest that we saw in Band of Brothers is also part of the Battle of the Bulge. Smith lands in Europe around Christmas 1944, just when the offensive begins and stays in Europe until the end of the war.
The tragedy of the battle is well shown in Everyman´s War. The Army command misjudging the German´s will to fight thought they would never attack during ice-cold weather, snow and temperatures below zero. But they did.
Sgt. Smith´s courageous fight, the love for his comrades and his despair about losing them is well shown. So are the battle scenes. As long as there is no music all is fine. Sadly the choice of music is bad and ostentatiously corny. And so is the background story, the home front bits (think the end of Saving Private Ryan and dip it in sirup).
This is frustrating as the main theme, alluded to in the title, is nicely executed. This was everyman´s war. Everybody was in it. The French, the English, the Americans, but also the Germans and the German Jews. Moments where the film achieves to make us feel sorry for everyman involved are truly good.
One last word on the use of language that will only annoy people who understand German. 90% of the actors impersonating German´s are not Germans and have bad accents and an unintentionally funny way of pronouncing the German words. However this will not bother speakers of other languages. Apart from that the portrait of Germans is quite just.
Having said all this I just think it is a pity. This could have been a good film but now we are left with a 3 (out of 5) star achievement.
I’ll check it out and let you know how I feel.
Strongly disagree, I think the movie focused on war from the individual’s point of view and does a good job of that.
I’m a layman when it comes to judging movies, so the music, german, etc. means nothing to me, as does 75% of a professional critic’s thoughts.
Thanks for your comments Mike. I like hearing from people who have seen a movie in a totally different way, sometimes it makes me see things I hadn’t seen.
I think the intention of the movie is a good one, only the execution was lacking. Clearly you were able to see the good things.