When Trumpets Fade (1998)

Ron Eldard, Zak Orth, Frank Whaley, Dylan Bruno,
When Trumpets Fade is a TV movie starring Ron Eldard, Zak Orth, and Frank Whaley. A private in the latter days of WWII on the German front struggles between his will to survive and what his superiors perceive as a battlefield...
  • 7.0 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2020-03-15 Added:
  • W.W. Vought, Writer:
  • John Irvin, Director:
  • John Kemeny, Producer:


9/10 / 10

When Trumpets Fade is a great movie, with excellent action sequences,fine acting and a sound storyline. It's better than Platoon, and I'dput it up there with 84 Charlie Mopic, except that it deals withinfantry warfare during WWII. It came out after a series of real tolife WWII movies, Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line, but is madeon a smaller budget and apart from Ryan's opening scene, it is a bettermovie. The cast consists of thoroughly unknown but very skilled actors,and the movie gives you a feel of what it must have been like to be onthe front line in the Huertgen Forrest in Germany, late 1944. TheHungarian location adds realism as well.

The story basically revolves around the single minded efforts ofprivate (then sergeant, then lieutenant) Manning (Ron Eldard) to stayalive and out of the meatgrinder that is conventional warfare, nomatter what, even though ironically, the fact that he survives meansthat he has to put up for ever more dangerous tasks because he's theonly one near who has any close-up experience.

I'll add that the videostore I go to allows you to rent 5 movies forthe price of 3, and keep them for a full week. Every day after watchinganother movie, I couldn't help but re-watch "When Trumpets Fade", andevery time I found something new and something more made sense to me.

This is one outstanding movie, very well produced and if you like warmovies from the grunt's point of view, don't miss it.

9/10 / 10

In 1944, in Hurtgen Forest in the border of Belgium, Pvt. David Manning(Ron Eldard) is the only man of his company to survive a battle in thewoods. He joins a new company trying to get a medical waive, andalthough having difficulties to respect his superiors, he is promotedto sergeant due to his leadership and instinct of survival. After a newbattle, when he destroys the German cannons, he is promoted tolieutenant.

"When Trumpets Fade" is a great surprise: totally unknown in Brazil,without any publicity, it is indeed an excellent war movie. Based on atrue story, the Hurtgen Forest Battle, where 24,000 soldiers died, thisfilm shows, without any clemency or romance, how stupid a war is. Thesoldiers are moved by the instinct of survival, and not by patriotismlike other movies usually present. The battle scenes are amazinglyreal, showing shattered bodies or man losing parts of their bodies. Amust-see movie, recommended for audiences who look for raw and nakedtrue story, with magnificent interpretations and direction. My vote isnine.

Title (Brazil): "Quando os Bravos se Calam" ("When the Braves Silence")

9/10 / 10

A tense and unforgiving war epic that follows David Manning (RonEldard),an American soldier in World War II who tries to get a discharge for beingmental unstable although his superior officer, Captain Roy Pritchett(MartinDonovan) who immediately promotes him to be the squad leader of a platoonwhere all the members are new and inexperienced.

The performances here are nothing short of excellent, the battle scenesare well-executed, and Thomas Burstyn's photography isn't only gloomy, italso hides some unexpected surprises from Germans to mines, that arehiddenin the ground.

Director John Irvin, who is no stranger to making effective andintelligent war films ("Hamburger Hill", "The Dogs of War") and turningrawtalent into top-notch, has made another classic here. What this film hasincommon with the previous movies is that one or some of the characters arecynical or determined to survive. However, it's a shame that this film wasonly made for cable instead of being given a fair chance to gain someattention at the box office.

9/10 / 10

The film makers obviously intended a memorial to the soldiers whofought and died in the Hurtgen Forest. Though this was not a docudrama,the story had to be true to the context, and for what I could tell, itdefinitely achieved that goal. The Battle was not a victory for theU.S. forces. The Germans pushed back the Allies during this battle,creating the "bulge" in the front lines. The Battle of the Bulge was alater victory, and it is duly remembered. But the Hurtgen Forestcampaign, which was a defeat and by many commentators is viewed as ahuge strategic blunder paid for in American blood, has largely beenforgotten.

Why does everyone (including viewers) assume that Manning is a coward?Because he is the only survivor of his platoon? Perhaps that assumptionaccurately reflects the command mindset which caused so many deaths:death is so cheap that one more death is expected, in order to provevalor. (That is not a new concept, "The Red Badge of Courage" had it ina Civil War context; but it also seems to be a motivation forcontemporary suicide bombers.) Contrast that with these soldiers'motives for the last mission--when the objective was clear: to savetheir own lives, rather than to make a noble but unavailing gesture.

Usually war films have more plot. But the Hurtgen Forest campaign wasnot as carefully plotted as a screenplay. Did any mission in this filmseem to have any real point? The battle is accurately reflected here.This is not a compelling film, and it does not attempt to impart anygreat moral lessons, but it's best virtue is that it is honest.

My late father was in the "Bloody Bucket" (the 28th Infantry,Pennsylvania National Guard--note the red keystone insignia) duringthis battle, and he was fortunate to have survived. Decades later, heoften would say to me that the trees could kill you. I was never reallysure what he meant. This film showed me what he meant: the tree topswhich were blown off by artillery fire would fall on the soldiersbelow.

10/10 / 10

This is a must see film. It presents war realistically. Just as in realcombat, some soldiers are reluctant to attack, some officers are notthat smart, many soldiers are scared, and the mission is of dubiousvalue.

This particular story focuses on one soldier who was the lone survivorof an allied attack or the Germans. He is promoted to Sgt. against hiswishes because they are short of people. Put in charge of newreplacements, he is torn between training the new men, and staying outof the fight so he will stay alive.

After another failed attack by his company, he is promoted to Lt. Againhe does not want this responsibility, but now has to lead men intobattle.

Its one of the few films that show how inept some officers are. Band ofbrothers is the only other film I can think of that shows an ineptAmerican officer, Capt. Herbert Sobel (played by David Schwimmer).

Its also one of the few American films about the Battle of the HertgenForrest, which was overshadowed a few months later by the Battle of theBulge.