Brother’s War

| June 13, 2009

The idea behind Brother’s War, according to actor/producer/co-writer Tino Struckmann, was to “not make just another war movie.” The subsequent collaboration with director Jerry Buteyn has yielded an exploration of the final days of World War Two as experienced by captain in the all but vanquished German army and a British officer traveling with the Soviet army as they race to take Berlin. Turning the typical World War Two plot line on its head, the German captain is presented as one of the protagonists while the Soviets- ostensibly fighting for the Allied cause- are shown to harbor nefarious plans for post war Europe.
While leading his out numbered and under supplied men into hopeless skirmishes, German captain Klaus (Tino Struckmann) is captured by the Soviet army. There he meets Andrew (Hugh Daly), a British officer/spy embedded with the Soviet army who is privy to knowledge that could threaten the union of the Allied forces. Determined to divulge this information to American or British forces, Andrew makes an escape with Klaus’ help. As they make their way through the war ravaged countryside they discover that they share the bond of Freemasonry and become true comrades. Accompanied by Anna (Hayley Carr), a Polish nurse displaced by the war’s maelstrom, Andrew and Klaus push on toward Berlin, pursued by Soviet Intelligence officers and dodging the frenzied German army in retreat.
Brother’s War does not begin with a bang as might be expected but instead shows an old man sitting in a forest, ruminating. Soon enough we are treated to the requisite combat footage, although the actual story unfolds at a rather sluggish pace with long sequences accompanied by the sonorous harmonies of German choral music. We understand the horror of war and the complicated motivations behind those who fight it, but this is secondary to real plot development.
The movie’s premise- showing cooperation between enemies and the final days of the war from the German perspective- is almost better than the actual execution. Some scenes stand out for their emotional wallop- particularly Klaus comforting a mortally wounded soldier who was once under his command- but those cannot be expected to take the place of a comprehensive plot. It must be said that Tino Struckmann indeed succeeded in his quest to make “not just another war movie” but that alone has not guaranteed a more than subpar cinematic product.

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