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Cross of Iron [UK Release] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: English PCM 2.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English HOH
  • Classification: 18
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: Optimum Home Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: June 6, 2011
  • RRP: £19.99

[amazon-product align=”right” region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B004OQJSV8[/amazon-product]

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4.5/5]

Director Sam Peckinpah’s (The Wild Bunch) Cross of Iron is arguably the greatest anti-war film ever made. Right from the get-go it is from the point of view of the most unlikely anti-heroes for any World War II film, a group of German soldiers. Set in 1943 on the Russian front, Cross of Iron follows a platoon of German soldiers, battle weary and no longer fighting for any ideology, but fighting only to survive. The decorated soldier Rolf Steiner (James Coburn; Monsters, Inc.; The Great Escape) has just been promoted to Sergeant for his actions during a mission against the Russians. But the aristocratic Prussian Captain Hauptmann Stransky (Maximilian Schell) is brought in to command the troops. Stransky’s sole ambition is to win the Iron Cross in order to gain glory for himself and his family, but Steiner’s abhorrence for the aristocracy and the chain of command has him instantly butting heads with Stransky.

Soon the squad find themselves going into battle once more against the Russians led by Steiner, and the platoon’s brave Lieutenant Meyer loses his life. Afterwards, the cowardly, but ambitious Stransky claims victory and that he, not Steiner, led the troops into battle so that he can claim his Iron Cross. He calls the homosexual Lieutenant Triebig and Steiner as his witnesses, but Steiner refuses to corroborate the story. This instantly puts him and his men in jeopardy. When the order is given for the troops to fall back, Stransky fails to relay the information to Steiner and his men, leaving them stranded behind enemy lines alone, left to fight their way back to safety.

Cross of Iron is a bold and courageous statement against war and brutality, from Steiner’s constant battle to keep his men in line and stop them from all sorts of barbarities, such as rape and killing of children, to his open defiance of the German military’s chain of command and lampooning of the aristocracy, it is at once thoughtful and violent. An absolute classic.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

This is a stunning restoration from Optimum of this 1977 film. The numerous battle scenes filled with smoke don’t always allow for the strongest of details to emerge, but for the most part, this is a magnificently clean, sharp, and detailed 1080p AVC transfer that has spot-on flesh tones, inky blacks with extended shadow details, and a wonderful film-like appearance.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The LPCM 2.0 mono audio shows the limitations of the day and often sounds very thin and somewhat shrill, but the dialogue is clean an intelligible with little clipping.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

The strong host of interviews and behind-the-scenes footage make these extras well worth sitting through. The Mike Siegel documentary, in particular, is very interesting top watch and quite informative.

The supplements provided with this release are:

  • Passion & Poetry: Sam Peckinpah’s War (46 Min.) (New) – A documentary by Mike Siegel featuring James Coburn, , Senta Berger, David Warner, Vadim Glowna, Roger Fritz, Katy Haber, and Sam Peckinpah.
  • 5 Featurettes with 1976 on-set audio interviews:
    • Sam Peckinpah (5:06)
    • James Coburn (5:30)
    • James Mason (6:50)
    • Maximilian Schell (4:35)
    • David Warner (3:14)
    • Krüger Kisses Kern (8:27)
  • Letters from Vadim & Sam – Vadim & Sam: Father & Son – Cutting Room Floor (3:48)
  • Steiner in Japan – Mike’s Homemovies: Steiner & Kiesel Meet Again (7:16)
  • German Trailer
  • TV Spot USA
  • Trailer USA/UK

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Cross of Iron looks marvelous on this new high definition edition while its story has held up well some thirty-two years later. If you’re a war movie fan, then you owe it yourself to add this one to your collection.

[amazon-product align=”right” region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B004OQJSV8[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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