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175 of 180 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great movie, atrocious Region 1 DVD release!
Cross Of Iron is one war film that will take repeat viewings to truly absorb all the material. With that said, I won't elaborate on the film's strong points since they've already been mentioned by many before. And this DVD release from Hen's Tooth is not the one to view this film from. It is a shortened edited version and the transfer is Full-Frame, it doesn't even appear...
Published on October 31, 2003 by K. Cannon

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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great movie needs a Director's Cut treatment PRONTO!!!!!!
5 stars for the film, ZERO for DVD! I find the movie (wich was cut to ribbons!!!by at least 35 minutes)to be simply amazing. Now for the Dvd, I can only add that is the worst DVD in my collection. Bad Audio, Awful tranfer, Horrenduos picture quality, FULL SCREEN (Yuckssss!!!!!) and it's the CUT to shreds version. Where's the director's cut? Why does the Wild Bunch gets...
Published on December 1, 2003 by Xavier I. Ucar Conte


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175 of 180 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great movie, atrocious Region 1 DVD release!, October 31, 2003
This review is from: Cross of Iron (Full Screen) (DVD)
Cross Of Iron is one war film that will take repeat viewings to truly absorb all the material. With that said, I won't elaborate on the film's strong points since they've already been mentioned by many before. And this DVD release from Hen's Tooth is not the one to view this film from. It is a shortened edited version and the transfer is Full-Frame, it doesn't even appear to be Pan & Scan...simply a dead shot down the middle of the film. The quality of this Hen's Tooth release is absolutely atrocious for the DVD format. It appears as though it's almost a VHS transfer, or a heavily worn film transfer at best. There are numerous scratches and dust artifacts, and the color saturation is very faded in many scenes. The sound on the DVD is equally terrible during the entire movie, it's very hard to understand much of the dialogue at times.
I've purchased bargain DVD's for $3 before that are 100% better in quality than this! Just by the sheer fact that the film is edited would have Peckinpah rolling in his grave. Hen's Tooth knows and have admitted that the transfer is horrible, yet they still charge $30 retail nearly 4 years after their DVD release?!?? There is no way that this disc is worth that much money. I would gladly pay the price if it was a Criterion edition, but not this poor edition.
If you have the technical capability I recommend ordering either the UK DVD or Japanese DVD of Cross Of Iron. It won't cost you much more (perhaps less) than this unworthy Region 1 DVD release. The imports both present the film in it's original anamorphic widescreen format, with vastly superior picture and sound. If you don't have the technical capability, then buy a VHS edition of Cross Of Iron.
5 stars for the film itself, 0 stars for the Hen's Tooth DVD...hence my 4 star rating.
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140 of 144 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gruesome masterpiece -- intense, chilling, September 14, 2002
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This review is from: Cross of Iron (Full Screen) (DVD)
Cross Of Iron is a masterpiece, one of the greatest anti-war, anti-authoritarian movies. It is one of director Sam Peckinpah's two finest works -- the other being The Wild Bunch. It deserves to be ranked in the same great war movie company as Apocalypse Now, Das Boot, Full Metal Jacket, Paths Of Glory, Saving Private Ryan, Seven Samurai, and Zulu. Its setting on the World War Two Eastern Front, its gruesomeness, and its risk-taking viewpoint on ugly combat from the German side, have tended to count against fair assessment of its considerable artistic achievements. Viewers wary of the morality of its German viewpoint and its explicitness might find that it is fundamentally about humanity in general as a victim of war. The film reflects on the humanity which may be found on all sides of conflict--including Russian humanity portrayed variously as relentless, innocent, brave, and feminine.

Cross Of Iron opens with an intense, chilling montage of children's song, propaganda vision, combat newsreel and atrocity. By the end of the main title this montage subtly introduces the central characters, a German reconnaissance unit patrolling on the 1943 Russian front.

This 1977 film set rarely matched standards of cinematic mayhem. Cross Of Iron explosions don't look merely like pretty fireballs -- they blast fragments, rocks and debris, leaving no doubt as to why blood gouts from stumps of limbs and shrapnel-shredded entrails... Amid the screams of wounded and dying, as dust subsides from a mortar barrage, an artillery piece shorn of its crew by a near hit swings across a pocked battlefield, its traversing wheel spinning under its own momentum. The carnage occurs in the choreographed slow motion which Peckinpah made his signature.

James Coburn turns in one of his finest roles as Rolf Steiner, a highly decorated NCO who leads a German reconnaissance squad. Steiner fights less for his country than for his comrades. He has low opinions of class and rank distinctions. He is contemptuous both of Nazism and the aristocratic Prussian arrogance of his new superior officer, Captain Stransky, played with great style by Maximilian Schell. But there are hints of a dark side. Although Steiner is articulate and philosophical he has no answer when his love interest during an enforced break from battle, nurse Eva (Senta Berger), bitterly accuses him of being afraid of what he would be without the war.

Among the many fine supporting performances, James Mason plays the war-weary Colonel Brandt. He sees the immorality and futility of German war aims, but his sense of honour and duty about the prevailing struggle makes ceasing to fight unthinkable. David Warner plays Brandt's out-of-place and out-of-time adjutant, Captain Kiesel, who represents to his colonel the hope that a more enlightened postwar Germany might arise from the ashes of inevitable defeat.

War movie buffs irritated by the technical inaccuracies common in many examples of the genre will find some satisfaction in attention to authenticity of weaponry. A range of genuine WWII German and Russian small arms appears. The T 34/85 tanks are real, although the very picky might argue that this is at least six months premature, and that for the summer of '43 they should be T 34/76. Tactics at times deviate from the textbooks, but this is a drama, not a combat manual.

Cross Of Iron is a five-star movie. The Hen's Tooth Video release was a two-star DVD, with sub-standard picture and sound. It was worth owning only while this great film of a great American director lacked the high quality collectors' edition Zone 1 DVD release it deserves, or the far superior European DVD and Blu-ray releases it later received.

Update in September 2011: It appears that only the DVD and Blu-ray releases of this film for the European market - notably those published by Studio Canal - are good quality transfers, as well as being in the original widescreen aspect ratio. Studio Canal's Blu-ray release (encoded for Region B only) is significantly better even than their DVD. It shows so much more detail compared to the DVD releases, for example, that the lettering and designs of German military awards like the Krim and Kuban Shield shoulder insignia can be seen clearly on screen, and wine and beer bottle labels are easily read. The Blu-ray is available from Amazon.co.uk, but can be played only on Region B-capable Blu-ray decks. Extras on this Blu-ray include a gem, a documentary by Mike Siegel called "Passion & Poetry - Sam Peckinpah's War". This gives fascinating insight into the making of "Cross of Iron" and Peckinpah's directorial style through contemporary and later interviews with James Coburn, David Warner, Senta Berger, Maximilian Schell, Roger Fritz, Vadim Glowna, Katy Haber and Peckinpah himself. It includes a shot of Peckinpah reminiscing proudly about receiving a telegram from Orson Welles saying it was 'one of the finest war films ever made'. Welles was so right.
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91 of 99 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Realistic Russian Front Epic, Far Better than Stalingrad, December 17, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Cross of Iron [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Take it from someone who was an Army "grunt" for 12 years -- this movie was filmed as realistic as one could get without being on the battlefield, and during my time in service, Cross of Iron was one of the favorites of infantrymen and WWII buffs everywhere. Many wellknown (at least in Europe) German actors were featured in this film. It is one of the few movies I've seen that accurately depicts the spite and tension that exists between officers (seeking career advancement at the expense of their men) and enlisted men (just trying to survive). Having lived in Germany and conversed on many occasions with Wehrmacht veterans who were on the Russian front, I found Cross of Iron to be very close in detail to the conditions and experiences they described. A previous writer describes the movie's mood as depressing (not as much as Das Boot or Stanlingrad, IMHO!); yet it reflects exactly the realization of fighting for a lost cause that many German soldiers experienced. And hell, war IS depressing! Aside from the farmhouse scenes involving a female Soviet unit, this movie is as real as any German depiction of fighting on the Russian front that I have ever read, and there are many books in this genre. If you want to know what it was really like to fight in the elements in East Europe in WWII, in the mud, sweat, and shrapnel, and to understand what comaraderie is about (without all the surrealism and eccentricities of "Stalingrad") then this under-appreciated classic is the one to see! The artillery and trench warfare scenes are incredible, some of the best I've ever seen... Sam Peckinpah was able to effectively show all the sharp contradictions of war: courage and cowardice, sensitivity and crudeness, mercy and cruelty, and in the end, irony and justice.
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52 of 57 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Peckinpah's first and only war film is savagely beautiful, March 6, 2006
By 
A. Sandoc "sussarakhen" (San Pablo, California United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Cross of Iron (Widescreen Special Edition) (DVD)
1976 saw Sam Peckinpah release the only war film he ever made in the form of Cross of Iron. Peckinpah hadn't made any relevant films as the 1970's rolled around as his bouts with alcoholism and reputation as an impossible director to work with cut into the amount and type of projects he was allowed to make. But with Cross of Iron, we get to see once again what made Sam Peckinpah such a maverick director and the first true auteur of cinematic violence. Another thing that was surprising was the fact that despite all the westerns and other violent-laden films in his library of work, Peckinpah never made a war film. One would've thought that Peckinpah's penchant for creating innovative, almost balletic mayhem on the screen would've been a perfect marriage with a war film script. Cross of Iron might be his first and only war film, but Peckinpah brings to it his very own style that would help influence future directors such as John Woo, Quentin Tarantino, and Luc Besson.

A rarity amongst WW2-based films, Cross of Iron is told through the eyes of the Nazis as they try to survive their retreat from the Eastern Front of 1943. Rarely do Germans play the protagonists in WW2 films and Cross of Iron helps show that the German soldiers, beat-up and shellshocked, were not so dissimilar from the typical American and British soldier. All they want is to live another day as they try desperately to retreat from Russia. This theme is seen most evidently in the character of Sergeant Steiner (well-played by James Coburn who seemed born to play the tough, hardened veteran) who stoically, almost resignedly, lives day to day through the crucible of perpetual battle that was the Eastern Front. Steiner is well-loved and respected by the men he leads for they know that he would try to find a way to save them all. The fact that Steiner also has an antiauthoritarian streak in him makes him popular with the grunts. Finally, having won his own Iron Cross (German military's award for bravery above and beyond) from earlier engagements earns him the respect of his men. On the polar opposite is their new commanding officer, the high-blood Prussian Colonel Stransky (played with an aloofness that only Maximillian Schell seems perfect for) whose aristocratic upbringing ill-prepares him for the horrors of combat. But despite his lack of charisma with the men and for not being anything like Steiner, Stransky's still wants an Iron Cross of his own even if he has to resort to outright deception to get one. Caught between these two dynamic characters are the soldiers who bleed and die during these pair's struggles against each other.

It's these battle scenes where Peckinpah makes his stylistic mark. Using the same techniques he relied on for his seminal and best work, The Wild Bunch, Peckinpah shows the horror and brutality of war (especially that of the Eastern Front). Through slow-motion scenes of bullets ripping into flesh and bodies being blown into the air as explosions rip the earth. The effects work in Cross of Iron is abit more advanced than in The Wild Bunch and Peckinpah might've used it abit too much of it for the film. It sometimes felt as if ever quiet moment was broken up by a sequence of battle and violence just so Peckinpah could showcase his talent for creating beautiful violence. Maybe he did it on purpose to show the unending cycle of horror inflicts on even the toughest of men, but after awhile even I became somewhat numb to the violence on the screen.

Despite that little quibble, I still think that Cross of Iron shows Peckinpah at his best late in his tumultous career. Despite a string of forgettable films through most of the 1970's, Sam Peckinpah gets one more chance to work his cinematic magic in 1976. After Cross of Iron, Peckinpah's descent into obscurity continues right up until his death years later. While Cross of Iron might not be on the same level as The Wild Bunch and The Killer Elite, it does have in its execution everything that made Peckinpah great.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great movie needs a Director's Cut treatment PRONTO!!!!!!, December 1, 2003
This review is from: Cross of Iron (Full Screen) (DVD)
5 stars for the film, ZERO for DVD! I find the movie (wich was cut to ribbons!!!by at least 35 minutes)to be simply amazing. Now for the Dvd, I can only add that is the worst DVD in my collection. Bad Audio, Awful tranfer, Horrenduos picture quality, FULL SCREEN (Yuckssss!!!!!) and it's the CUT to shreds version. Where's the director's cut? Why does the Wild Bunch gets the best treatment and not The Iron Cross. One of the most violent war epics before Full Metal Jacket and Private Ryan seems so weak and boring right now!!!...Do not get this edition because you will regret it and don't lsiten to does who have seen only the cut version of the film...someday they will also admire this masterpiece, when some wise distributor release the film in its correct way! Sam peckinpah is the Godfather of modern cinema violence!
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56 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WW2 Russian Front from German point of view, February 4, 2006
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This review is from: Cross of Iron (Widescreen Special Edition) (DVD)
This is an outstanding movie about the WW2 Russian Front as told from the German point of view during the retreat in the Crimea. More powerful and a better movie than "Stalingrad" and "Enemy At The Gates". Coburn plays a much decorated senior sergeant who is fed up with the war and just trying to survive. Schell plays an inexperienced officer newly arrived at the front and looking for a medal...The Cross of Iron. Is he truly a hero or a coward..??? Mason plays the regimental commander and their commanding officer. Brutal and violent. It tells of the hopelessness of the German position and the dispair of the men who are forced to fight this hopeless war and trying to survive. Well worth watching. NOT for the squeamish...!!!
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! A decent release., May 15, 2006
By 
H. LUI (Glendale, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cross of Iron (Widescreen Special Edition) (DVD)
A good release of a great and underrated Peckinpah film. The picture quality is a huge improvement over the previous pan & scan from Hen's Tooth and seems to be a little better than the recent Korean all region release. The audio commentary by Stephen Prince is informative but a bit dry like the one he did for Criterion's Straw Dogs. One can't help but think that this should have been a Criterion release but overall it's a descent release. A second disc with material about the making of the film would have been better.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars how to destroy a great film, February 29, 2000
This review is from: Cross of Iron (Full Screen) (DVD)
As with most of the other reviews I can say with total honesty that my DVD of Cross of Iron is the worst duplication of any film onto DVD. How can such a second rate company get the rights to one of the greatest war films ever made. Unfortunately for me, living DownUnder, returning this title is not possible finacially. I am thankful I still have a VHS copy.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Cross of Iron--DVD---Hens Tooth Video, February 20, 2000
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This review is from: Cross of Iron (Full Screen) (DVD)
Cross of Iron, Sam Peckinpah's last movie has been out of print on vhs for a long time. With a DVD release as poor as this it should have stayed in moratorium until someone who cared could have released a DVD worthy of this great antiwar film. I stilll have a vhs copy that looks better than this dungpile. So whether you are a fan of this movie or Sam Peckinpah do not support this horrible release of such a fine film.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie --Bad DVD, February 18, 2000
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This review is from: Cross of Iron (Full Screen) (DVD)
While I am a big fan of Peckinpah, and feel that this movie was unfairly overlooked for many years, it was almost painful to watch the Hen's Tooth Video DVD version of this film. The interpositive used in the transfer is scratched, pitted, and otherwise in very poor shape for much of the film. The compression rate is terrible, resulting in the worst artifacting I have yet seen on this format, and to top it all off the video does not even preserve the film's aspect ratio.
To sum it up: Very compelling movie, which does feel a bit "dated" in some of its techniques (but funding was also pulled out from under Peckinpah during production, and this film was made on a very low budget), but the film warrants viewing. It's merely unfortunate that the video distributor did not give the film the respect it deserved. I am returning my DVD copy today, and will wait for someone else to acquire the rights and do the job better.
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Cross of Iron (Widescreen Special Edition)
Cross of Iron (Widescreen Special Edition) by Sam Peckinpah (DVD - 2006)
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