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When Trumpets Fade

3.8 out of 5 stars 1,823 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

When Trumpets Fade (DVD)

Heroes are born when bullets fly, when the earth explodes, when cannons roar. From the director of Hamburger Hill and The Dogs of War comes an explosive new film set during one of World War II's most shocking and unforgettable battles -- the battle of Hur Year: 1998

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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

Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: Various
  • Directors: Various
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC
  • 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: May 30, 2006
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,823 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305161941
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,567 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "When Trumpets Fade" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Patrick King on 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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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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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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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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