We were recently asked to do a review of Saints and Soldiers: Airborne Creed by a Mormon themed Podcast called The Cultural Hall. They allowed us to share it on our site as well, but I encourage you to check out their site. While you are there you can listen to the Interview they did with the Director and Producer of the film and gain some additional insights into the movie.
On August 15, 1944 the 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team (PRCT) jumped over the south of France. Their mission was to support and protect the Allied Troops marching to Berlin. Landing in enemy territory, they fell under immediate attack. In their effort to complete the mission and rendez-vous with their unit, three isolated paratroopers come across a group of French resistants in desperate need. They decide to help liberate some of the captive Partisans. Doing so they risk their lives in an effort to live the Airborne Creed.
I got together with my Dad to watch Airborne Creed this week. He is a big World War II buff and thought he would enjoy it. I had seen the original and was very impressed with the high quality on such a short budget. This new and original story line continues that tradition.
If you are a fan of "Mormon Cinema" you are going to see some familiar faces. A face that will seem eerily familiar is that of Corbin Allred. He played the lead, "Deacon" Greer, in the previous Saints and Soldiers film. The ironic thing is, he is playing a completely different character. I was hesitant to this idea at first, but it works. While "Deacon" is a solemn and disciplined (assumed) Mormon. His role of Corporal Rossi is much more rough around the edges with a reputation for fighting and a haircut that would violate the BYU honor code. It is a credit to his abilities as an actor.
One of the things I noticed right off the bat when watching this movie is the excellent sound editing. I know it sounds funny, but good sound is essential for story immersion. In one of the fight scenes, which ends up a bare fisted brawl, the sound and tight editing really make the film come alive. It could have been torn from The Borne Identity, which won academy awards for film editing, sound editing, and sound mixing. Airborne Creed makes excellent use of it's budget with authentic costumes, weaponry, and vehicles.
The French sometimes get a reputation for being cowards for surrendering during World War II. After seeing the courage and resourcefulness of the French Resistance I might change my tune. Although France did fall, it was only after the English fled to their homeland and the French were about to be pushed into the sea. Afterward the Resistance led a guerrilla war against the Germans, causing acts of sabotage and providing essential intelligence allowing the Allied forced to advance into Germany after the Normandy landing. It is great to see part of this story told.
The rest of the cast is rounded out by David Nibley, The Best Two Years and 17 Miracles, and Jasen Wade, also of 17 Miracles. I must add that those are also movies essential to any Mormon Movie Collection. Wade's facial expressions of dread when a German K-9 scouting party is trying to sniff him out, put you on the edge of your seat. Newcomer, Virginie Anderson, seems to command every scene she is in. Perhaps because she is the only female in a cast of dirty, grimy men, but most likely because she is a natural. Being French, she has a believably that adds to the immersion of the story. An improvement from Kirby Heyborne's Englishman from the last film. (I loved you in The Best Two Years Kirby!)
The pacing moves very fluidly until about the end. The final battle sequence is not very well established as a culminating event. The aftermath of that battle has some of the most heartfelt dialogue though. "I hate this uniform and I'm supposed to hate you." The line, spoken through tears to an enemy soldier, really outlines the major theme of the Saints and Soldiers Films. Although they were all Soldiers, there were also some Saints (not necessarily Latter-day) on both sides of the conflict.
As a movie produced by LDS film makers you would be right to expect clean language. The most sexual content we see is a "kiss like only French women know how to give." But you can also expect some violence being a war movie. We are exposed to some of the brutality of the Germans, and many scenes of battle. But the one question we were left with that really troubled my dad and I was, "What happened to that dog?"