Saints and Soldiers is loosely based on a true story, the Malmedy massacre. During The Battle of the Bulge, in 1944, a group of American soldiers got captured and subsequently massacred by Germans near Malmédy. The movie starts with the massacre and follows four of the men who manage to escape and are now deep behind enemy lines.
It’s a group of four very different men, one of them very religious. On their way back to their lines they save a British pilot who says that he has important information for the high command.
It is the middle of winter, the snow is high, the forest swarming with German troops and they are constantly in great danger. One of them, Deacon, the religious one, cannot sleep anymore. He has accidentally killed civilians, women and children and cannot forgive himself. He will have plenty of possibilities to atone, don’t worry, or the movie wouldn’t be called Saints and Soldiers.
Now if there is one thing that needs to be handled with care it is the blending of war and religion or let’s say war and Christian faith. There are religious or rather very spiritual undertones in The Thin Red Line but they are not Christian. Platoon got away with it but let’s face it, Platoon is one of a kind. A Midnight Clear, that is very similar to Saints and Soldiers, overdid it and this movie overdid it too.
Something I found insufferable was the pseudo-Brit. They really couldn’t find a British actor for that role? They had to take an American one who is supposedly good at accents? Well, he is not, he sucks.
This is too bad because from a purely cinematographic point of view this movie is beautiful. There are a few haunting images of the snow-covered forest and the story had, despite many clichés (a beautiful and helpful French woman, a German who is good although they are all monsters, some Germans that are monsters, many more Germans who are monsters) a lot of potential. I have a special interest in the Battle of the Bulge and the Battle of Bastogne (brilliantly shown in Band of Brothers) but we don’t see much of this. This is really only the adventurous story of a few men who had to cross enemy territory and find back to their line.
Despite all this I think it does deserve 3/5.