Film #5 in the World War II Marathon!
Screenplay By: Robert Rossen
Directed By: Lewis Milestone
I continue marching through the World War II Marathon, and A Walk In The Sun became to me like its subject matter, a slow, tedious march that was unbearable at times. A Walk In The Sun is so slow that time feels as if it is lurching by, one minute feels like ten, it’s that bad. It’s not the pacing alone, it is a combination of the pacing and the way in which the subject matter is tackled. I know that this is considered a strict adaptation from the source material, I haven’t read the novel so I am going on second hand, but the subject matter needs to be spiced up by the director to appeal in visual form.
Talk, talk, talk. That’s all they do in A Walk In The Sun, talk. I’m not opposed to movies that are all talk, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset happen to be two of my favorite movies, but your characters need to grow and present different ideas as they talk. In A Walk In The Sun every idea has been presented by the fifteen minute mark. After that it’s repetition ad nauseum, there isn’t a single moment of revelation or single moment where I didn’t say to myself, “I just heard this, five minutes ago.” I understand the ideas that A Walk In The Sun wanted to express, but it wasn’t interesting to hear those ideas repeated over and over again.
Most of the blame falls on the writer, but just as much falls on the director, Lewis Milestone. It’s sad, but I almost dread All Quiet On The Western Front at this point. People have hyped it up to me, but I know it was directed by Milestone, and A Walk In The Sun is the third Milestone film I have seen, after The Purple Heart and Les Miserables, and they have all been sub-par efforts. In A Walk In The Sun Milestone has opportunities to change things up, to move his characters, to compel the audience and make me care about what is happening on screen. Instead he opts for a static camera, and the tiresome & never ending one shot/two shot technique. There are also moments when the screen is so dark that you can’t see a thing, maybe this was done on purpose, but it doesn’t add to the picture in any way.
The few action scenes in A Walk In The Sun are well done, but nothing special. They are interesting not because of any great quality, but because they break up the monotony of the picture for a few scant seconds. They don’t add to the story that much and the emotional impact that the final action sequence goes for is lost because I tuned out long before it gets to that point.
Hopefully things will pick up soon in the marathon, because after Lifeboat it has been one mediocre picture after another. I believe things will pick up, but A Walk In The Sun was not the movie to turn the marathon around. A Walk In The Sun isn’t bad, but it is thoroughly joyless, boring and fails to provoke thought or entertain in any way. Unless you are taking part in the marathon with me there’s no reason to subject yourself to A Walk In The Sun.