Emotionally powerful war drama based on a true life event.
This is a low budget made for TV movie that portrays the impact of the Italian armistice with the allies in 1944 on the Acqui Division garrisoned on the island of Cefalonia. The German troops on the island do not trust the Italians who are looking forward to returning home to Italy and give them an ultimatum: fight on the German side, surrender their weapons and become prisoners of war or fight against them. After a democratic referendum of all ranks they choose to fight and the film deals with the aftermath. We follow events primarily through the eyes of Sergeant Saverio,who is not only central to the war story but has a strong romantic subplot with the central female character,Feria,an Italian, who had settled on the island but whose husband, Mikis, had disappeared ten years ago.The first half of the film is driven by an underlying tension about what might happen in this unusual war situation and the second half by the conflict felt by Saverio between what he feels for Feria and his identification with his comrades in the the awful events that occur. The subplot with Feria's daughter, Elena, and her father, Mikis, was well integrated with the central story line and did not disturb the flow of this well acted movie.Although a war film,its central theme is the importance of relationship and individuality in spite of the extreme events and this drives many of the anti war statements that emerge through both the dialogue and the action. It is also the source of the deep human emotions that the film taps into. I have probably never been moved so much by a war film! With this focus and its relatively slower pace it is not primarily an action movie, although its depiction of violence is realistic. For this reason I think it will particularly appeal to women. Despite its length(2 hours 16 minutes) and the subtitles my attention was held throughout. I much preferred it to Captain Corelli's Mandolin and it is much harder hitting. As a film, it isn't perfectly crafted by any means, but its emotional journey is so powerful, I had to award it five stars. In some ways it was an old fashioned film::- no gratuitous sex and violence, so if this is what you are looking for, avoid! However,I warmly recommend it to you.
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