REVIEW: El Alamein: The Line of Fire (2002) – ManlyMovie

REVIEW: El Alamein: The Line of Fire (2002)

Today, we take a look at a movie from the North African front, here’s a rare movie from the Italian point of view.  There aren’t too many Axis-orientated movies about, so why not root another out. You can get some German, a few Japanese and very rarely, an Italian one. So given how few and far between those are, I thought this one would be interesting.  I mean, on the surface it has a few things going for it – unique perspective, respectable budget and in particular it follows the Pavia Motorised Division.  It’s a pity though that it’s a dull, sullen and uneventful showcase of cliches.  Here is a movie that is long on pontification, yet short on insight.  Only people with a hardcore interest in WW2 need look at this.  They had an excellent opportunity to make a decent North Africa movie with gusto here, looks like they hired the wrong people

This movie is about the Pavia Division and its particpation in the 2nd Battle of El Alamein in October, 1942.  The Italian Army paid a heavy price for Mussolini throwing them into a war probably two-three years earlier than it was actually ready for it – it performed poorly and lost.  Perhaps though the Pavia Division was an example of the fight still being in the men.  It performed well in the desert, despite the setbacks of being a motorised division without any transport and often outnumbered 2:1, it was known to have often sealed breaks in the line, repulsed and counter-attacked.  In the end, the Axis abandoned it during the general retreat in North Africa in November.  So why is none of this outlined in proper fashion here?  It’s like the makers of this movie/director aren’t even historically aware. For the most part, this is poor melodrama.

The tired old ‘greenhorn college boy wants to see war’ then narrates liberal ramblings about how war sucks is all over this.  It’s a liberal movie, it wants to be part Stone, part Mallick, part art.  Isn’t it funny how liberal projects always find it easy to make a movie about a war their Country lost, and ridicule things that didn’t go so well?  Platoon is a good example, which this movie borrows heavily from.  Here, one of Italy’s best Divisions is shown at it’s worst hour. But unlike Platoon there is no Bob Barnes here and the director puts on a mediocre show, with poor strategical narrative and bland aesthetics.  People not up on history will find it baffling. Some trivial annoyances too, such as armoured vehicles from the 60’s, driving around at night with red tail-lights on.  Would it have been so hard to put some duct-tape over the lights at least?  A tank doesn’t show its break lights at night in the field. There are no Volkswagen cars or highway codes in the fucking desert, it’s a hot war!

A keepsake for WW2 purists, with the occasional atmospheric home-run, but what a wasted opportunity, what with the backing and funds it got.