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When Trumpets Fade (1998)

Ron Eldard , Frank Whaley , John Irvin  |  R |  DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (176 customer reviews)

Price: $18.09 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Ron Eldard, Frank Whaley, Martin Donovan (I), Dwight Yoakum
  • Directors: John Irvin
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: HBO Studios
  • DVD Release Date: November 10, 1998
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (176 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305161941
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #141,246 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "When Trumpets Fade" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

First broadcast on HBO in June of 1998--shortly before the theatrical release of Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan--this World War II drama offers an equally intimate and devastating study of combat and its tragic aftermath. Set in Germany during the closing days of the war, the film uses a little-known episode of U.S. military history--the bloody battle of the Hurtigen Forest--as the backdrop for the story of a battle-weary private (Ron Eldard) who is the only surviving member of his platoon. Despite his request for dismissal on the grounds of mental disability and shell-shock, he is considered a promising soldier by his superiors, promoted to sergeant, and assigned to command a fresh platoon of young, inexperienced soldiers. The cycle of war continues, and the film ends as it began--with one soldier carrying a mortally wounded comrade from a scene of devastating loss. A veteran of several war films, director John Irvin emphasizes the gritty, physically exhausting realities of combat with keen attention to detail on location in Hungary. This film is decidedly downbeat (don't look for any Spielbergian uplift here), but its depiction of warfare is undeniably powerful, earning praise for Irvin and HBO for tackling such an uncompromising project. --Jeff Shannon

Product Description

Ron Eldard, Frank Whaley. Four rebellious WWII soldiers fight to complete a botched military maneuver in heavy enemy territory. 1998/color/92 min/R/fullscreen.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
277 of 283 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth Seeing December 3, 1999
Format:VHS Tape
This movie focuses on a sad chapter in the history of the U.S Army in World War II. The Hurtgen Forest was a deathtrap the could have more or less been bypassed. Certainly a low point in the annals of command, though through no fault of the G.I.s involved. This movie made a point to bring out the frustration and waste experienced by the men of the 28th Inf. Div. in that campaign. I think Spielberg set a new standard for the war movie genre with Saving Private Ryan. So far, When Trumpets Fade is one of the few recent military movies to even come close to that standard. It's a shame that, being a made for cable release, it hasn't been seen by more people. The movie is technically very well done. Uniform and equipment portrayal is excellent. For those reviewers above who find fault with a G.I. wearing his watch cap backwards, try wearing one under an M-1 helmet sometime. It's more comfy turned backwards I assure you. The only thing the movie couldn't represent, being filmed in Hungary, was the true geography of the Kall River Valley, which is much worse than shown on the film. Having hiked the Kall Trail quite a bit, it's a rough walk. Hats off as well to my fellow US military members, stationed in Hungary, that played extras in the film. A very well made movie that they can be proud to have participated in!
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142 of 154 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
The opening scene in this HBO movie is perhaps one of the grittiest and most realistic depictions of the realities of combat ever filmed, at least this side of the first 30 minutes of `Saving Private Ryan'. The viewer is immediately transported into the surreal world of death, decay, and destruction, where the panorama in view is a smoke-seared scene that the young soldiers labor through in the midst of all this horror. In this excellent depiction of General Omar Bradley's ill-fated decision to strike deep into the forbidding terrain of the Hurtigen Forest, accuracy and detail are everywhere one looks. The situation described in the film is quite accurate, and the young cast of mostly unknown actors do a convincing and credible job in conveying the insane circumstances surrounding combat, especially of the lonely, nerve-racking and suddenly murderous nature of isolated units moving cautiously forward through the sometimes impenetrable glades of the forest.
All of the craziness and chaos of battle is well presented, and the story line lends itself to the strong anti-war message of the movie. A friend expressed outrage at the scene in which a platoon leader shoots a deserting private, without realizing it is standard battle procedure. There is nothing uplifting about the scenes and situations the soldiers faced, no over-riding morality or contrived happy ending to dislodge the reality of the horror and futility of all this carnage. If you are looking for a pleasant evening of entertainment, a couple hours of mindless diversion, better find another movie.
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127 of 140 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Anti-Ryan January 25, 2002
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
If you watch films about WWII, and maybe even if you haven't, you've seen "Saving Private Ryan" which has apparently become the definitive movie about The Big One....well, if that film as a polar opposite, this is it. "Trumpets" follows a few days in the miserable life of a miserable man, Private Manning, a dogface who is part of the ... disasterous 1944 - 1945 campaign by the American army to seize the Huertgen Forest from the Wehrmacht. Everybody knows about D-Day and the Bulge, while the Huertgen is forgotten, probably because there is no glory in recounting the story of how 30,000 GI's got fed into a human meatgrinder they called "The Death Factory" for no purpose. The Germans never could understand why the American army chose to attack them at their strongest, most easily defensible point, but were more than content to let it happen. WWII histories, most notably Eisenhower's and Bradley's, who oversaw this idiocy, gloss it over, but "Trumpets" rips open the scab and gives a glimpse of what really went down. Unlike "Ryan" which stressed the nobility of the individual soldier even as it attacked the logic of war, "Trumpets" has no heroes. Private Manning is a no-account malingerer who doesn't give a damn about anyone but himself and as a result, keeps surviving while better men get killed off. His officers foolishly assume he is therefore a good soldier, and keep promoting him against his will. Thus he ends up having to break in the replacements soldiers being fed into the grinder, a task which requires empathy, leadership, courage, and patience, so naturally Manning is the worst possible choice. The battle scenes are not especially terrific, but the film does a good job of showing how the stress of combat can make good man bad and bad men worse. Read more ›
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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Accurate Portrayal of the Hurtgen Forest Fight February 19, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
I am a captain in the United States Army and have studied the battle for the town of Schmidt and the Hurtgen Forest. This movie accurately portrays one of the darkest moments in US Army history in World War II. Inept leadership from the highest levels down to the regimental and battalion level launched the underesourced 28th Infantry Division into a suicidal attack across 13 miles of dense forest. The movies characters very closely showed the horrible confusion and improper tactical decisions made by leaders under fire. The poor weather negated the American advantages of tanks and close air support. The American infantry as shown in the movie were victim to attacks by unrelenting artillery and tanks. In one real case, the American soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 112th Infantry regiment, so unnevered by constant artillery, actually got up and fled their positions in the forest village of Vossenack. This was 400 soldiers, including officers, who up and ran. The movie does the miserable conditions and combat fatigue faced by the soldiers justice. I recommend it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent movie. Moving story
Published 1 day ago by William R Nice
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A good movie with a nice twist.
Published 14 days ago by Michael Woodworth
3.0 out of 5 stars It is OK, kind of a low budget film ...
It is OK , kind of a low budget film.
Published 1 month ago by Silver Streak
5.0 out of 5 stars War is Hell and Patton was crazy but in a good way
What war is really like !!! J.D. Salinger was there and so was the beginnings of The Catcher in the Rye. Read the book and watch the movie.
Published 1 month ago by Lee Enfield
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent movie GM.
GREAT war movie, the action, personal struggles, horror of war.
Published 1 month ago by Glen Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars A must see for WW2 buffs!
A great movie of one of the most ignored and disastrous battles in US history. A must see for WW2 buffs.
Published 1 month ago by Elizabeth M. Nickerson
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent War Movie
This was purchased as a gift but my friends say it was perfect for them because this was about a battle her father fought in.
Published 1 month ago by Catherine Pumphrey
5.0 out of 5 stars Top 10 war movies
This is a brutally true slice of combat. Reviewers saying this isn't like their history book or not how soldiers are promoted were never in the any war. Read more
Published 1 month ago by pepper
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by ARTHUR TRAVIS
5.0 out of 5 stars not an army recruitment film
this is more like the real thing than one usually gets from film. i was impressed with it's raw, unvarnished feel. Read more
Published 4 months ago by will crow
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