Kiedy ucichną działa / When Trumpets Fade / Las Hurtgen (1998)
GATUNEK – Akcja, Wojenny, Dramat, LEKTOR.PL
OPiS FiLMU – II wojna światowa. Krwawa bitwa toczy się już od trzech miesięcy. Szeregowiec David Manning dowiaduje się od kapitana Pritchetta, że wszyscy żołnierze z jego plutonu zginęli, a on sam zostaje awansowany do stopnia sierżanta. Wkrótce prosi swojego przełożonego o możliwość wcześniejszego powrotu do domu. Pritchett zgadza się, lecz stawia jeden warunek. Zadaniem żołnierza jest zlikwidowanie stanowiska artylerii wroga.
PLOT – Private Manning is a soldier in the 28th Infantry Division who, in order to survive, does just enough to stay out of trouble, but not enough to actually make a difference. Through the sheer bloodiness of the Hurtgen battles, Manning is left as the sole survivor of his platoon and is subsequently promoted to sergeant. He tries to get out of it, saying he is unqualified for the position, but his company commander, Captain Roy Pritchett, thinks otherwise. Manning then tries to back out of responsibility by asking to be filed on a Section 8 (mentally unfit due to combat stress), but is refused.
Manning now finds himself in charge of a squad of replacements, a prospect he is less than thrilled with. He meets with his new men, and during the evening, leads them into position on the line. The next morning, on patrol with his squad, Manning puts Private Warren Sanderson on point. Sanderson goes forward too quickly, getting lost and then narrowly avoids contact with the enemy. After some time, Manning decides that they must leave without Sanderson. At that moment, Sanderson returns. After the incident, Manning is scorned by his peers and berated by his platoon leader, First Lieutenant Terrence Lukas.
His company makes a push toward the town of Schmidt, to take and hold a bridge. However, they move into an enemy minefield and are shelled by 88s. They retreat and Pritchett comes to Manning with a mission that he requires volunteers for. Manning wishes him luck, so Pritchett offers Manning a Section 8 if he volunteers for the mission. During the mission, one of his men, Private Sam Baxter, routs and starts to run away, prompting the rest of the men to do the same. Manning shoots Baxter, hitting the flamethrower he is carrying on his back, which causes it to explode and burns him to death. Although the rest of his men are horrified by this, they stop running and assault the position where the two 88s are located, led by a crazed Sanderson, armed with another flamethrower.
Meanwhile, his company secures the bridge, suffering horrendous casualties, and after the 88s are put out of action, get shelled by German tanks. In the assault, Lukas is overcome with stress, and then, Sergeant Patrick Talbot, gives him a handful of dog tags from the dead soldiers in their platoon. However during a run from the pursuing Germans, both Manning, Sanderson, Lonnie, and Despin make a run from the German patrols but in a desperate escape it costs the life of Lonnie, and however Despin goes missing but later revealed he is now captured by the Germans as their prisoner of war. Manning and Sanderson escape, When the battalion’s commander, Lieutenant Colonel George Rickman, asks about the status of his platoon, Lukas snaps and assaults him. Manning confronts Rickman as Lukas is carried away, picking up the mass of dog tags Lukas dropped, and pressing them against Rickman’s chest. Through Manning’s insubordination, Rickman recognizes him and orders him to his command post. Manning is subsequently promoted to second lieutenant and given a platoon.
After an altercation with Talbot and Manning’s friend, Corporal Toby Chamberlain, who is the platoon’s medic, in which they confront him for shooting his own man, Manning tells them of a plan to destroy the German tanks the night before the assault. Chamberlain states they have no proof that Manning will not just shoot them, as he did Baxter, then Private Sanderson — who survived the raid on the 88mm cannons — defends Manning’s conduct by acknowledging the fact that everybody would have run instead of fighting. Manning also silences them by telling them that their company is making another push in the morning, which will be more dangerous. If they don’t attack the tanks, he knows that the entire battalion is in jeopardy.
He leads the three men (Sergeant Talbot, Corporal Chamberlain and Private Sanderson) in a pre-dawn raid on the German tanks. Manning clears the minefield and cuts the wire, enabling the group to continue on. The operation costs the lives of all but Manning and Sanderson — while Manning gets wounded. The film concludes with a wounded Manning being carried back to the American lines by the now battle-hardened Sanderson; a mirror image of his carrying back a wounded comrade at the opening of the film; Manning appears to die. The film closes with a little note that the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest was overshadowed by the Battle of the Bulge quite soon after.