Ossus Library Index Young Indy Index

TRENCHES OF HELL

Directed by Simon Wincer (1999, Lucasfilm)
Starring Sean Patrick Flannery and Ronny Coutteure (guest cast)

Indy experiences trench warfare at the Somme, and meets Charles de Gaulle after he is captured by the Germans.

View Count: Twice

 

 

4 stars

February 13th, 2000 on Video  
   

I loved this episode the first time around.  I think I liked it even better this time.  The truth about warfare shows through Indy's depression and desperation, and the lunacy of some of his soldiers. 

The first part starts just after Indy's regiment is decimated at the battle of Verdun.  There are only seventy people left, and all the officers are dead.  Indy has the highest rank.  So temporarily, the French give them a French lieutenant, which the Belgian troops resent.  But the hatred is, I think, more due to their restlessness and nervousness at trench warfare. 

The battle of the Somme begins, and the troops do fairly well, capturing the German trench closer to their target.  But then it goes horribly wrong.  The Germans regroup, and use mustard gas to retake the trench.  To watch it is gruesome.  The one guy who can't find his gas mask writhes in agony.  Even, of course, the horses have masks, and that is the saddest part of all.

The Belgian group is sent on leave, what remains of it.  They go into the nearest town, and spar with a group of British fighters, among them two poets, who seem to be getting their inspiration from the war, however much they hate it.

Indy is wary of one of his soldiers, who seems quite unbalanced, and whom he thinks killed their captain.  But he ends up saving Indy's life later. 

They go for the Somme again, capture the German trench all over again, and go on to the castle they are trying to capture.  They succeed, after Indy, the French second-in-command, and the unbalanced soldier help each other take out the machine guns and cannons.  But they can't hold the position with the thirty men they have left, and are overrun quickly.  Indy is taken captive, and he believes Remy to be shot.

One of Indy's company gets them both French officer's uniforms, which they think will get them better treatment.  It probably does, but they still end up in a POW camp.  There, they immediately meet a group of British officers who are digging a tunnel out of the camp.  They decide to help, but Indy's friend is shot, and Indy is recaptured, along with a few of the other British. 

It turns out that the person Indy was impersonating had four other escape attempts on his record, so he is sent to an impenetrable fortress, complete with large moat and sheer walls.  There he meets two Russian POWs, and Charles de Gaulle.  The Russians get him to help them swing a giant rope to some spires across the moat.  That scene is hilarious, with the Russians barely containing their excitement when they discover Indy can lasso like a cowboy! 

The Russians are killed in the attempt, but Indy gets away.  He and  de Gaulle realize that they might get out of prison if they take the place of the dead bodies.  But true to Indy's luck, the Germans have stopped burying the bodies.  They are beginning to cremate them!  Of course Indy and de Gaulle escape before they reach the crematorium, but there is a very funny scene where Indy doesn't know if de Gaulle (whose box is on top of his) had heard about the change of plan.

They make their way to a German village, where they steal two bicycles, and outrun a patrol, but de Gaulle is recaptured by a motorcyclist, though Indy escapes by biking over a train crossing just before the train.  Whew!  It was pointed out to me that this seems inconsistent with Indy's personality -he would probably try to ensure that de Gaulle made it, or show some sadness at knowing he was recaptured.  But I guess still being deep in German territory made him bike as far as he could before stopping to think about such things.

This episode was grim and humorous.  The first part shows how unbalanced war is, and how unbalanced the people involved can be.  The look on the French commander's face during the briefings showed that he knew that he was sending many, or even most, of his soldiers on a suicide mission.  The second part showed that the POWs had a better life than the soldiers.  But of course, whenever the war ended, who knows what happens to POWs?  But for now, they ate well, didn't have to do much, if any, labour, and had semi-comfortable beds to sleep on.  What more could they ask for, except freedom?

 

  Guest Cast: Stevan Rimkus as Siegfried Sassoon
Jamie Glover as Robert Graves
Herve Pauchon as Charles de Gaulle
 
   

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