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Category:    Home > Reviews > American Soldier

The American Soldier

 

Picture: B- ††††Sound: B- ††††Extras: C †††††Film: A

 

 

The films in America during the 1940ís and 1950ís heavily influenced many directors outside of the U.S., especially that of Rainer Werner Fassbinder from Germany. He was strongly impressed by the work of Douglas Sirk, but his tribute to the noir and gangster genre was in The American Soldier.There are many directors that show tribute in their films and some do it in a very solid honorable way, while others just simply hack it all to pieces.Fassbinder was quite capable of doing mature work, even early in his career.He understood cinema in a way that few do.He understood life and was always searching for answers in a world where being a homosexual just did not seem to fit in.

 

The American Solider is in black & white, which was released in 1970 and deals with a man returning from Vietnam as a cold-blooded killer, where he is hired by the Munich police to work for them.Fassbinder was able to locate and outsider in all of his films.Looking back at his entire lifeís work his films always deal with a minority figure vs. the rest of the world.In Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, we are introduced to a couple that is in love, but the only problem is that the man is dark; while the woman is twice his age and is white.They are painted by the society around them. Fear of Fear also deals with a woman who becomes afraid of everything and establishes herself as an outsider.

 

Perhaps the strongest point of The American Soldier comes from its surprise ending, which was amazingly shot by cinematographer Deitrich Lohmann, who was responsible for many films in Germany then did the work on the European scenes in the 1988 series War and Remembrance (reviewed on this site) and the American film from 1997 with George Clooney, The Peacemaker, an underrated terrorist film.The film runs a short 80 minutes, but never leaves out much and accomplishes much in such a short time.

 

The full-frame picture looks dated, but not overly so.The picture does not quite have the depth and detail as with Veronika Voss (part of the Fassbinder BDR Trilogy through Criterion).Fassbinder did not like to shoot films in black & white with a lot of grayscale, but liked to keep the film almost strictly black or white with little in between.The biggest surprise is how clean the print is with very little scratches or dirt, certainly a big plus!Interesting enough a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix was created for this film, which was a shock. The mix is much more spacious in comparison to Fear of Fear or Rio Das Mortes and even Criterionís release of the BDR Trilogy and Ali: Fear Eats the Soul.While it might not contain the punch of some more modern sound mixes, this does do a nice job of giving more depth and dimension to the film.

 

This might be a nice starting place for those less familiar with this underrated, yet talented director who never lived past the age of 40.His death was tragic, but he left his impression with so many films and was able to do so much in such a short time.It is finally nice to see the American shores starting to get more product from this individual and see tribute to him on the big-screen in films like Far From Heaven, which was directed by another homosexual director Todd Haynes.The American Soldier is not to be missed at some point in time and this DVD from Wellspring delivers with an edition worthy of purchase.

 

 

-†† Nate Goss


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