“Que el cielo exista, aunque nuestro lugar sea el infierno.”
Jorge Luis Borges: Deutches Requiem
“Let heaven exist, although our place is in hell.”
The above quotation, slipped into the dialogue by the end of The Final Sacrifice, is the only good characteristic of this rather anaemic film. Set in Northern Italy by the end of WW2, it follows the rather uneasy alliance between German and Italian troops, subjected to heavy aerial bombardment by the Allies, continuous harassment by partisans, and the prospect of facing the advancing Americans. There are conflicts simmering between the Germans and the Italians, aggravated by the refusal of the later to fight their compatriots, the partisans. The Germans face the prospect to protect the withdrawal of their panzer units from the Americans, while the Italian soldiers also withdrew.
The Final Sacrifice characterizes the Third Reich forces as being disciplined and trustworthy and the Italian soldiers are stereotyped as clowns. However, it does tackles the uneasiness of their alliance, and the contradictions facing the later between their duty as military men, and their reluctance to fight other Italians. It also points out to the flourishing black market prevalent at the time.
The significant reference to the Borges’ quotation slipped into the dialogue highlights the fundamental problem of this film, which is neither a parody or a justification of German heroism. Deutsches Requiem, one of Borges’ controversial short stories, can be read as a justification of the actions of the Nazis, yet this film does not have the courage to take this line, as Borges did, however repulsed we may be.
In short, The Final Sacrifice is a rather anaemic film, poorly acted, unexceptional cinematography, a confusing narrative and direction. However, a redeeming feature is the attention to detail taken, particularly in the uniforms and the military equipment used.
If you are interested in a rather overlooked aspect of WW2, this film is for you. Otherwise, stay clear. The disc contains a documentary about its making, which I found more interesting than the actual film.
Director: Ari Taub
Producer: Curtis Mattikow
Writers: Nick Day, Caio Ribeiro
Cast: Daniel Asher, Matthew Black, Justin Brett, Bob Brown, Hans-Dieter Brückner, Achim Buchner, Pierluigi Corallo, Nathan Crooker, Emanuele Fortunati, Britton Herring
DVD UK Release date: 24th January 2011
Running time: 102 Minutes