Reviews

  • Jan 24, 2021

    If you're going to make a fake documentary, you might as well make it with enough quality that people think it's real, and Huston made one that was so realistic that it took half a century for it to be debunked. Yes, the director deserves to be appropriately chastised for presenting San Pietro as something it wasn't - an on-location documentary in the heat of battle - but it was nevertheless a visionary and groundbreaking piece of film in the depiction of a genuine battle, opting for brutality and violence rather than airbrushed photography. The censors wanted Audie Murphy back home selling war bonds, talking about glory and Lugers taken from deserving, dead Nazis; Huston wanted to make something of an entirely new design, depicting real gallantry even if went against the "cowboys and Indians" fighting style the government wanted to portray. One thing though: San Pietro is not anti-war like some contemporary and modern critics seem to claim. The film is relentlessly star-spangled, just in a novel way that accepts a more realistic depiction of battle. (3/5)

    If you're going to make a fake documentary, you might as well make it with enough quality that people think it's real, and Huston made one that was so realistic that it took half a century for it to be debunked. Yes, the director deserves to be appropriately chastised for presenting San Pietro as something it wasn't - an on-location documentary in the heat of battle - but it was nevertheless a visionary and groundbreaking piece of film in the depiction of a genuine battle, opting for brutality and violence rather than airbrushed photography. The censors wanted Audie Murphy back home selling war bonds, talking about glory and Lugers taken from deserving, dead Nazis; Huston wanted to make something of an entirely new design, depicting real gallantry even if went against the "cowboys and Indians" fighting style the government wanted to portray. One thing though: San Pietro is not anti-war like some contemporary and modern critics seem to claim. The film is relentlessly star-spangled, just in a novel way that accepts a more realistic depiction of battle. (3/5)

  • May 10, 2018

    Okay, but a bit disappointing. John Huston's World War 2 documentary on the taking of the Italian town of San Pietro by US forces in December 1943. Okay, but a bit disappointing. Was interesting as it covers a battle that you never hear about in WW2 documentaries or read about in books. In a way San Pietro was a sample of the type of attritional war fought in Italy. However, like "Report from the Aleutians" the main problem is John Huston's narration. Dull, verbose, flowery, and quite irritating at times. Not as bad here as the aforementioned documentary, but still off-putting enough.

    Okay, but a bit disappointing. John Huston's World War 2 documentary on the taking of the Italian town of San Pietro by US forces in December 1943. Okay, but a bit disappointing. Was interesting as it covers a battle that you never hear about in WW2 documentaries or read about in books. In a way San Pietro was a sample of the type of attritional war fought in Italy. However, like "Report from the Aleutians" the main problem is John Huston's narration. Dull, verbose, flowery, and quite irritating at times. Not as bad here as the aforementioned documentary, but still off-putting enough.

  • Jan 15, 2018

    1001 movies to see before you die. Huston's voice is so powerfully distinct. It gives a support to this informative battle.

    1001 movies to see before you die. Huston's voice is so powerfully distinct. It gives a support to this informative battle.

  • Apr 11, 2014

    A wonderfully rousing propaganda film about american military might during the good war.

    A wonderfully rousing propaganda film about american military might during the good war.

  • Apr 02, 2014

    John Huston probably captured the true cost of War in his WWII films more than the other filmmakers recruited for propaganda at the time. With "Let There Be Light" he showcased the mental strain soldiers got under the pressure of war, with this he shows a specific battle and the death that came with it. It feels more real than Capra's "Why We Fight" series, because it isn't as sanitized. A good document of the cost of that war from a contemporary source.

    John Huston probably captured the true cost of War in his WWII films more than the other filmmakers recruited for propaganda at the time. With "Let There Be Light" he showcased the mental strain soldiers got under the pressure of war, with this he shows a specific battle and the death that came with it. It feels more real than Capra's "Why We Fight" series, because it isn't as sanitized. A good document of the cost of that war from a contemporary source.

  • Dec 29, 2013

    An early and unflinching war documentary on a minor but bloody battle fought in Italy in 1943. The realism is balanced with a deserved sense of hope.

    An early and unflinching war documentary on a minor but bloody battle fought in Italy in 1943. The realism is balanced with a deserved sense of hope.

  • Mar 24, 2013

    A documentary about soldiers in action in a World II battle. Fine editing.

    A documentary about soldiers in action in a World II battle. Fine editing.

  • Feb 02, 2012

    Fascinating documentary film

    Fascinating documentary film

  • Sep 18, 2011

    As with the opening of "Saving Private Ryan", you feel as close as one conceivably can to having lived through it... This is a fragment that has assumed more importance than Huston and his crew possibly realised at the time: in cinematic terms, if this battle hadn't been fought and won, there would have been no "Rome, Open City", that text so crucial to Italian neo-realism, so beloved of the French New Wave, so essential to the cinema's second half-century, a film whose images seem to be predicted here in the concluding shots of children and nursing mothers, rubble and restoration. Looked back on from the first decades of the 21st century, it's also fascinating to encounter a wartime documentary devoid of the neurosis inherent in, say, "Restrepo" or "Armadillo" - but that may just be an indicator of the differences between pre-Vietnam photo-journalism and post-Vietnam photo-journalism, and between images that see just enough and those that have seen too much. However you look at it, history was being made here.

    As with the opening of "Saving Private Ryan", you feel as close as one conceivably can to having lived through it... This is a fragment that has assumed more importance than Huston and his crew possibly realised at the time: in cinematic terms, if this battle hadn't been fought and won, there would have been no "Rome, Open City", that text so crucial to Italian neo-realism, so beloved of the French New Wave, so essential to the cinema's second half-century, a film whose images seem to be predicted here in the concluding shots of children and nursing mothers, rubble and restoration. Looked back on from the first decades of the 21st century, it's also fascinating to encounter a wartime documentary devoid of the neurosis inherent in, say, "Restrepo" or "Armadillo" - but that may just be an indicator of the differences between pre-Vietnam photo-journalism and post-Vietnam photo-journalism, and between images that see just enough and those that have seen too much. However you look at it, history was being made here.

  • Aug 30, 2011

    A prime example of what now is de rigueur on the History Channel, Huston's documentary has some frontline footage and exciting narration, but it still feels like it's glossing over what appear to be ill-advised decisions. Its treatment of the resilience of the town's population afterwards, while not the point of the story, feels naive as well.

    A prime example of what now is de rigueur on the History Channel, Huston's documentary has some frontline footage and exciting narration, but it still feels like it's glossing over what appear to be ill-advised decisions. Its treatment of the resilience of the town's population afterwards, while not the point of the story, feels naive as well.