Director: Russell Mulcahy Starring: Rick Schroder, Phil McKee, Jamie Harris, Adam James, Jay Rodan
I recall watching The Lost Battalion with a few friends when the movie came out. We sat around the sofa and talked about it, after the movie was over. The consensus was that it’s a good movie. The Lost Battalion was directed by Russell Mulcahy. It’s a war film that plunges audiences into the harrowing reality of World War I, telling the true story of the 308th Infantry Regiment of the 77th Division, led by the determined Major Charles Whittlesey, played by Rick Schroder.
Set against the backdrop of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in 1918, the film follows Major Whittlesey and 500+ men as they find themselves trapped behind enemy lines, surrounded by German forces. Cut off from communication and supplies, the battalion faces insurmountable odds, forced to endure relentless attacks as they cling to their position in the face of overwhelming adversity.
Rick Schroder delivers a powerful performance as Major Whittlesey, portraying the character with a compelling mix of determination, vulnerability, and leadership. The ensemble cast, including Phil McKee and Jamie Harris, also excel in their roles, capturing the camaraderie and tension of soldiers facing the horrors of war. The performances elevate the film, making the audience emotionally invested in the fate of these men.
Russell Mulcahy’s other notable film is Highlander, starring actor Sean Connery. Here, with The Lost Battalion, his direction brings the gritty realism of trench warfare to life. The cinematography effectively captures the claustrophobic and chaotic nature of battle, immersing the audience in the mud-soaked trenches and intense firefights. The use of practical effects and authentic locations adds to the film’s overall sense of authenticity.
The movie succeeds in telling a gripping and emotional story of survival against all odds. The screenplay, penned by James Carabatsos, masterfully balances the personal struggles of the soldiers with the broader context of the war. The pacing is relentless, mirroring the relentless onslaught faced by the battalion, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats throughout. Thank God, my friends didn’t talk during the movie. We loved the fact that the soldiers cared for each other.
The film is commendable in its commitment to historical accuracy. From the details of the uniforms to the portrayal of the weapons and tactics used in World War I, The Lost Battalion pays meticulous attention to authenticity however the technical advisors got so much wrong. This is only a minor distraction. The actors commitment enhances the film’s impact, providing viewers with a visceral understanding of the challenges faced by soldiers during this period.
At its core, The Lost Battalion is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of unimaginable adversity. The film explores themes of camaraderie, sacrifice, and the toll of war on the mental and emotional well-being of soldiers. It doesn’t shy away from depicting the harsh realities of conflict, leaving a lasting emotional impact on the audience. It is a war film that stands out for its compelling performances, realistic portrayal of historical events, and intense depiction of the horrors of World War I. Watch it. You’ll enjoy it.
MAJ Charles Whittlesey (later promoted to LTC) was a pallbearer, along with Alvin York, for the interrment of the first Unknown Soldier in November, 1921. Two weeks later, Whittlesey booked passage on a boat to Havana, and committed suicide the first night out by throwing himself overboard. He was said to be haunted for the rest of his life by the incorrect coordinates resulting in the friendly fire bombardment of his Lost Battalion.
GOOFS from IMDB
- When the plane is ready to take off for reconnaissance, the engine is started electronically. At the time of the war, engines were started by spinning the propeller blades manually, rather than by an electric ignition.
- Private Krotoshinsky mentions how he “took the test”, became an American and volunteered for military service. The real Abraham Krotoshinsky immigrated to the U.S. in 1912, worked as a barber until the outbreak of war, and did not become a citizen until after the war. Additionally he was one of the soldiers in Co K, 307th Infantry, not a replacement for the 308th.
- Lt. Holderman uses what is commonly known as the Weaver stance to shoot his pistol. This is a two handed stance. At the time the military trained officers and NCOs to fire sideways and one handed.
- (At around 1h 24 mins) The collar insignia shown with everyone’s collars now open, have clutch back devices, during this period they only had screw on or pin back insignia.
- Private Philip Cepaglia’s name is misspelled as “Cepeglia”.
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