Holy shit, thanks! I'm really glad you got a chance to watch it, and REALLY glad you liked it.
SOME SPOILERS AHEAD
It's told very realistically with a lot of attention to detail, I have to ask how closely it mirrors actual events happening at the time? Were there any particular incidents involving POW's that you pulled from for this?
The story follows the general thrust of the historical moment, but takes plenty of liberties for the sake of telling the story we wanted to tell. We actually did read a ton of personal histories from POWs, but didn't take any specifics instances from them, just a general tenor. Basically, we wanted to be respectful of the history without being beholden to it.
It was a little hard to believe the Germans would treat their prisoners as honorably, though. Again, I'm not very familiar with how the military operated then. ... The way that Beckett is dealing with his injury through the whole thing makes that clear, but I would've thought the Nazi's would be so much meaner and give him way less sympathy. And I hate to say it, but there's no way those women wouldn't have been gang raped.
One of the things I very consciously wanted to steer clear of was presenting the German soldiers as a monolithic evil. A key theme of the story is maintaining humanity in the midst of war, and that only works if you allow the enemy to be humanized as well. Obviously the Nazi commander is more one-dimensionally villainous, because we did want someone for people to really root against, but most of the soldiers they encounter are literally kids. They weren't fighting for an ideology or a cause, they were fighting for no greater reason than they were unfortunate enough to be young German men at the wrong point in history.
This is why Dittrich is probably my favorite character in the movie. He's fully bought in to the cause, he's willing to fight and die for his country, but he has a genuine sense of honor. When he experiences his enemy acting mercifully and his commander acting cruelly, the resulting dissonance forces him to make a choice about his own humanity. That was so much more interesting to me than if we had just gone, "He's a Nazi. Nazis are evil. Ipso facto."
As far as the women go, it was meant to be heavily implied that Vera was raped by Hesse during her solo time as a prisoner. Beyond that, we get into that murky area of assuming all the Germans are cruel and evil enough to participate in something like that without reservation, which simply isn't a leap I'm prepared to make, at least not within the context of the story I wanted to tell, which is largely optimistic about humanity as a whole.
This is no slight against you, but I think the best thing the movie has going for is it is the look. It feels authentic for this region and period, and there does seem to be a palpable atmosphere of war in the air. You really lucked out with that location, must be a giant property because it never seemed like they were in the same place for too long.
Agree completely. Our cinematographer is a genius and we're lucky to know him.
The property we shot on was huge; something like 4,000 acres, if I remember right. We spent a lot of time finding distinct areas within that space to make sure each sequence stood out from the others. I'm happy it paid off.
The faults I find in the movie are less with your script or the actors than the editing and score in a few places.
Yeah, the score is probably my biggest complaint. I like the actual music, I just disagree with some of the use of it, particularly how overbearing it gets in what should be quiet dramatic moments. There are points where it undercuts some really fine performances that should have been allowed to speak for themselves.
There's one note in the movie that didn't seem right at all to me, though. Towards the end, when Lt. Maxwell is in a struggle with the Nazi, why would Lewis shoot? That's the most asinine idea on the planet. It's two against one and YOU'RE ARMED. Go up and give him the beating we've been waiting to see these German's get the entire movie! I guess there is an aspect where I wish there was more physically brutality than gun violence, just to drive the point home of how much things can HURT a little more.
Interesting point. I guess the argument I would make is that Lewis panicked. Their half-assed escape plan was already going wrong, and he was rushed into making the first decision that popped into his head. I don't know if that's a good answer, but it's how I justify it in my head.
Congratulations, man. Keep us posted on where else it'll be available and it's DVD release!
Will do! My understanding is that the Redbox contract gives them exclusivity for a certain period of time, at which point we can get it on Netflix and whatever streaming and on-demand services we can interest in it. Meanwhile, the distributor is busy selling rights in various foreign markets. I'm looking forward to the streaming release, as that might be the only way people will be able to see it in HD, since it doesn't seem like a blu-ray release is in the offing.