First of all, the history behind the film presented on Metrodome’s recent DVD is incredibly convoluted. Metrodome themselves have described it to me as a “companion piece” to an earlier film The Fallen aka Letters from the Dead aka Last Letters of Monte Rosa. What is clear is that at a scant 88 minutes The Final Sacrifice is a heavily edited version of the earlier – critically well-received – film.
Italy, 1944: As the German army beat a hasty retreat toward them, a small group of soldiers tasked with routing Communist partisan guerrillas await the arrival of Italian reinforcements. When the Italians arrive, natural tensions are exacerbated by the lack of food, blankets and – eventually – radio contact with the outside world.
The Final Sacrifice does a good job of portraying the German soldiers in a human, sympathetic light, something which is of course very rare in film. And these men aren’t the embittered, authority-hating antiheroes of films like Cross of Iron, they’re as dedicated to their cause as the Allied soldiers are in most other war films. Having said that, they are – inasmuch as villains exist in the film – clearly presented as less sympathetic than the Italian soldiers.
It’s been made on an extremely tight budget but director Ari Taub does an excellent job of trying to disguise this. It’s clearly a labour of love, and great care has been taken with almost all aspects of the production. While it does lack a period feel – partly due to the digital photography – the uniforms, weapons and vehicles for example look authentic.
The film is let down considerably by some very poor performances, but while about half the cast do passable work, there are no great performances to balance out the weak ones. Finally – perhaps due to the heavy editing – there’s a vague sense that the film feels somewhat more muddled than it should.
But these flaws didn’t stop me enjoying the film overall and it held my attention throughout. Rather than combat sequences – it’s not that kind of war film – it’s made up of little vignettes which are more often than not successful.
Taub should be applauded for making a WW2 picture on a shoestring, and The Final Sacrifice is good enough for me to recommend seeking out the full film – which adds American soldiers into the mix, thereby presenting a truly balanced three-sided viewpoint which was so praised by critics – under whichever title it’s currently known as.
The Final Sacrifice was released on DVD on 24th January.
Extras: An enjoyable, lively 22-minute making-of documentary that appears at least to be quite informative until you start actually researching the film…
Director: Ari Taub
Cast: Frank Licari, Markus Kirschbaum, Carmine Raspaolo
Runtime: 102 min