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'The Eagle has Landed' *** 040605
The Work = ****
I had my doubts that there was going to be too much for me to enjoy here and I was worried that somehow this film would, oh I don’t know, make the Nazi’s seem like a bunch of fun loving, misunderstood cowboys, or something. Thankfully Sturges does no such thing and sets up his main characters as being those with a code of honor. Indeed many of the Axis are shown to be without.
Steiner (Michael Caine) and his men care nothing for the parties anti-Semitism. He cares for the men next to him and fights for them. Devlin (Donald Sutherland) does not care for the Nazis per say, nor is one but works with them because they appose the British and he wants a unified Ireland (without British rule.) Devlin doesn’t like the IRA “hitting soft targets” (read: civilians) but wants to go after the British government head on. Of course his logic is paper thin since the amount of “soft targets” killed by the Axis is enormous. (Though he might counter that they are not his people.) In any event he, like many of the characters in this film, pursues his goals with a single mindedness.
Logic gaps aside 'The Eagle has Landed' ends up being an engaging drama. It has a slow build up (although that didn’t bother me) but some action does kick in by the end of the film. The main characters are all headed towards certain death and there would seem to be no plausible way for them to victorious yet they march on, all with their own strict codes.
I will not reveal the specifics of their plan (although it is mentioned very early on.) The film actually becomes a story about characters choosing to die with honor rather than live with disgrace. They have an opportunity to do something that might help the Axis lose the War in a manageable way. (The film takes place at a point in the War when they knew they were going to lose and when Hitler was becoming consumed by madness.) Steiner and his men have lost their rank and uniform but are given it back after they accept the dangerous mission. They have a chance to make enough of a difference to alter the end of the War.
Now I suppose I should say that although I mentioned that the characters had their own code of honor they were still working for the Axis. There are those that would say that if they truly had a code they were following than they would have left the country. I will say that I can’t really defend the character choices as this film is a fantasy. I think it is possible for soldiers who fought for the Axis to have been honorable but I would say that if you don’t share that sentiment than I’m not going to be able to convince you otherwise.
I enjoyed this film and recommend it. Although it has a slow build up, the second half of the film picks up the pace. Whether they are flawed or not, the characters are great. Michael Caine is good, as is the rest of the cast.
DVD = ***
All together = ***
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