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Soldiers of the Damned (2015)

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Soldiers of the Damned Movie Info:.

It’s the Eastern Front, 1944. The Russians are pushing the German Army back through Romania. Major Kurt Fleischer, war-weary commander of an elite troop of German soldiers, is ordered to escort a female scientist into a mysterious forest behind enemy lines to retrieve an ancient relic. As his men begin to disappear in strange circumstances Fleischer realises that the scientist is part of Himmler’s occult department and there is something in the forest that is far more deadly than the Russians.
Director: Mark Nuttall
Writer: Nigel Horne
Stars: Gil Darnell, Miriam Cooke, Lucas Hansen

Movie Review:.

Any British movie where the majority of characters are not English-speakers faces a three-way choice. Do you do the whole thing in the characters’ real language(s), subtitled? Do you have the actors speak English with the appropriate accent? Or do you just have the actors use their regular accents? Obviously the first option is artistically preferable, but it requires actors fluent in that language and it can be a tricky sell to both distributors and audiences. So we’re left with two alternatives. Every character in this film is German (except for a small number of Russian soldiers): should they use German accents or not?

As a film-maker, you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I’m firmly in the pro-accents camp. I can believe that they’re German better if they at least sound German and not like they’re from Hampstead or Barnsley. But I know there are other people who hold the opposite view: that if the words aren’t German it’s ridiculous to use a German accent. I think it perhaps boils down to the quality of the actor. It takes skill to provide enough of an accent that we believe the character’s nationality without sounding like a comedy routine.

Bizarrely, one of the actors in Soldiers of the Damned does use a German accent (he’s not actually German – I checked). Also odd is that the actors playing Russian soldiers do use Russian accents when speaking English (which is presumably supposed to be German), while their Russian dialogue is actually in Russian but subtitled. Which I suppose does at least let us know when they’re speaking which language. But still consistent use of accents would have benefitted this movie.
But that’s not the film’s big problem.

Historical accuracy is hard, and gets harder the smaller your budget. I’m not a military history nerd and I can’t tell you whether the uniforms and weapons in this film are accurate for a group of German soldiers in Romania in 1944. I did spot one thing. An SS Officer who has an almost obsessive pride in the importance of the SS uniform wears his hat wrong. He wears his dress cap jauntily on the back of his head. The whole point of the low peak on a hat like that is that it comes down in front of your eyes and forces you to hold your head stiffly upright if you want to see anything. It was an idea developed by the Germans in the 1930s and, like so many sartorial/practical aspects of Nazi military uniform, is widely copied today around the world. Any SS soldier wearing his hat like this guy would have been given a serious dressing down, no matter his seniority.


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