As a rule of thumb, modern Hollywood would rather give us video game-style editing, one-eyed spoofs and binge movies than to try to make sense of the Second World War or even to salute the heroism of the age.
All of those Willis, Stallone and Schwarzenegger action movies have carried a price greater than we might have imagined.
Laughing at their one-liners and beefcake muscles was fun at the time, but their sense of combat has no historical legacy.
Even the recent 70th anniversary of The Dambusters wasn’t deemed worth of a remake when the marketing men think audiences want Fast & Furious 6 instead.
On the other side of the fence, you might expect a World War Two Russian-language film called In The Fog to be all doom and gloom in the visual sense.
But the title is more metaphorical. A Dutch co-production, this harrowing story is brighter than you’d imagine, yet still feels believably of its time, with ‘real’ faces amongst the cast and authentic looking materials warming their bodies.
Based on the novel by Vassil Bykov, the action is set in Belarus on the Western frontiers of the USSR in 1942.
A German officer spares the life of an innocent man arrested with a group of saboteurs who derailed a train.
The local partisans, who are fighting a brutal resistance campaign, think Sushenya (Vladimir Svirski) committed treason.
Two of them, Burov (Vladislav Abashin) and the more cowardly Voitik (Sergei Kolesov), go after him.
Before long, Sushenya is in the woods where the film explores trust – between individuals and groups – and how war effects change.
If you’ve spent your life living with neighbours, why would any of them trust other nationals (Germans in this case) more than their own? Sushenya thinks his own wife no longer knows who he is.
Native Belarussian director Sergei Loznitsa opens his second film with a panning shot of a disparate, almost disinterested crowd offset by a man’s voice talking about rebuilding the country. We then hear the words: ‘Hang them’.
Hollywood would have shown the men swinging. Here we see a sheep next to a trolley of skeletons.
The pace of In The Fog is not slow, it’s measured.
The stunning cinematography by Romanian Oleg Mutu (The Death of Mr Lazarescu) is natural, not glossy.
The sound includes distant barks, birds and the rustling of the wind, not a tub-thumping Hans Zimmer score.
With ingredients like this, you don’t need special effects. Just 128 minutes of your time.
Hollywood action movies build up to a frenzied crescendo. Here, it’s exactly the opposite.
But you’ll still end up holding your breath. In the fog.
* Showing at MAC Birmingham from Tuesday to Thursday, June 11-13.
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