Italiani brava gente (1964) - full transcript

During the summer of 1941, Germany and its European allies invade the Soviet Union. Fascist Italy participates at the invasion. The first trains carrying Italian soldiers arrive in the Soviet Union during grain-harvest season. The Soviet Army withdrew during the initial German onslaught that spearheaded the invasion. The newly arrived Italian soldiers wonder at the size of the Soviet countryside that seems to never end. The soldiers also notice the Soviets withdrew so fast that many fields have not been harvested yet. Fields of wheat, sunflower and corn glow golden under the bright summer sun. The Italians attempt to make friends with the Soviet civilians whom they meet at various stopping points along the way. But the civilians are scared of the invaders and rightfully so. The German troops have already passed through, terrorizing the Soviet populace. The Italian soldiers even try to share their bread rations with the civilians and they try to cheer the Russians up by singing a left-wing anthem, the Internationale. The Italian officers tolerate this, but things get out of hand when all the Soviet prisoners, and civilians alike, join in a chorus of defiance by singing the anthem. The German military police intervenes with brutality, causing a rift between the Italian and German soldiers. A German staff car appears and the Italians are given a lesson in how to treat one's enemy by the German commander. The Germans view their Italian allies as soft, undisciplined, militarily inferior and ideologically unreliable. The appearance of the Italian colonel in charge of the newly arrived Italian troops calms the spirits. A few of the Soviet civilians who, during the confrontation between Germans and Italians, escaped in the countryside, are slowly recaptured, one by one. Some are shot by the Germans. The Italian division occupies its established position. Later, they are entrusted with crossing the major Bug River. Despite their heavy losses, the Italians cross the Bug river and push the resisting Soviet troops further east. The Germans attempt to take credit for the forcing of the Bug river but the Italian colonel ensures that his troops get the credit. Grudgingly accepting the outcome, the German commanders congratulate the Italian commanders. The Italians continue their advance, on the flanks or behind the crack German units that spearhead the attack. On the wake of the Germans, the Italian troops find only destruction, death, mayhem and terrorized Soviet civilian survivors. During the fall, fanatical units of the Italian Fascist Militia arrive. They are commanded by a fanatical Fascist officer, Major Ferro Maria Ferri. They reinforce the regular units of the Italian Army. They also treat the Soviets with brutality, just like the Germans. The humanitarian Italian soldiers dislike the Italian Fascists just like they detest the Germans. When the winter arrives, the Italians, just like their German allies, discover that without winter clothing and equipment they face a cruel fate. News of Stalingrad make them uneasy. The Soviets rally a huge number of divisions and they launch several counter-offensives on the entire length of the front. The Italians and the Germans are caught unprepared and are reeling from the powerful Soviet blows. Outnumbered, outgunned and outmaneuvered, the Italians fight-on, with heroism and bravery, to cover the withdrawal of the more important German units. The Germans have sacrificed and abandoned the Italian troops in order to be able to flee. Some Italians try to surrender to the Soviets, encouraged by the Soviet propaganda leaflets dropped by airplanes on their positions urging them to surrender to good treatment at the hands of the Soviet troops. The Italian officers, try to dissuade their men from surrendering to the enemy. It's a matter of pride, more than ideology. Overrun by the Soviet hordes, the remaining Italian soldiers commence their withdrawal. But it's too late.












Hey, boys! We’ve entered Russia!

I’m sick of this damn war!

You can gripe all you want.

But if not for Il Duce, we Italians
wouldn’t have seen another country.

What more can you ask?
We took Albania, Greece, France, Africa…

And now, damn it, even Russia!

Did we come 6,000 miles
just to look at wheat?

Well, it’s all ours now.

Hey, Bazzocchi, what are you dreaming about?

That wheat, it’s a blessing from heaven
But if it rains, it’ll all go to hell!

July is over
and they haven’t even harvested yet.

Why should you give a damn?
It’s not your wheat.

But wheat means bread.

If I were the Colonel,

I’d stop the train
and send everyone out to cut it down!

- Cut with what?
- With bayonets. Hands, even.

It’s good hard grain, I tell you.

Oh, now he’s starting a war over wheat!

- You hick!
- Next, he’ll want a collective farm!

Sergeant, what exactly is a collective farm?

It’s something that doesn’t
belong to anybody.

Your cow and your land aren’t yours.
They’re everybody’s.

And so is your wife.
These Russians are all cuckolds!

Who gave that raspberry?




With those whiskers,
you look like an overgrown mouse.

tell me before the Sergeant comes back.

How does that Communist anthem go?

Damn, I never remember how it starts!

When I learn it,
I’ll serenade you with it.

Look, he chews even in his sleep.

These Florentines…

they never stop eating.

Will you cut out that Communist anthem already?
You know it’s banned.


No one can stop the Germans now, Colonel.
We’ll walk right into Moscow.

Well, we won’t just sit around
and let the Germans do our fighting for us.

Wouldn’t be the first time the Russian’s
retreated to Moscow, only to change their minds!

- Remember Napoleon?
- I know, colonel…

but in my opinion

Hitler is a much greater
military genius than Napoleon.

Mussolini knows
the Germans don’t need our help.

He’s just doing
what Cavour did in the Crimea.

Being present! That’s what counts.

Take a little walk, eh?
Then report back to me.

They send me all the mama’s boys
with fathers on the General Staff!

These youngsters think
fighting a war is a great big game.

Four aces, boys!

Is it a Russian attack?

Everybody out! Take your rifles!

What’s going on?

- Colonel.
- What is it?

Could you tell me
what’s going on?

This guy again…

You always want the inside story!
Get back there!

How do you do, Mr. Colonel?
Italian… good.

Already picked up Russian, eh?
A real Roman…!

- We Romans do the best we can.
- Go to hell!

I’m Italian.




I’m… Mussolini?


I died in a field like this.

Who knows if the sunflowers are still there,
where I fell?

I don’t even know how the war ended.

Whether we won…

or whether we lost.


you used to say that the dead
fertilize the land better than anything.

I’d be satisfied,

at least my death would’ve served a purpose.

Are you finished picking flowers?

The miles we marched…

and never an end in sight.

If only once we had seen a hill,
like in our own country.

Where was the front?

They said the Germans were winning,
advancing steadily.

But us?

Well, we were always following behind them…

but never catching up.

You think we’ll see Moscow
before this lousy war ends?

If they gave me some of this land,
I’d stay right here.

Who cares about Moscow?

How the hell
does the Colonel know which way to go?

It’s all the same!

It looks like the wheat
was sown by the wind.

They sow wheat with airplanes here,
not with the wind.

Where did you learn so much about Russia?

Hey, Mouse, you know everything about Russia.

What’s happening?

Get ready, you moron. It’s going to rain.


Well, why there has to make
such a damn fuss about it?

There, I knew it!

I said it would all go to hell.

What are you waiting for?!
Let’s cut it down!

Colonel, where’s that soldier going?

Let him go.
At least we’ll all get a little bath!

Come on! There’s equipment in here!

Grandpa, you have to harvest the wheat!

I’m a farmer just like you are!
We have to save the wheat!

They should be out harvesting
all that bounty from heaven!

What are they waiting for?
The Almighty Himself?

Hitler… Mussolini…

He says if they harvest the wheat,
we and the Germans will carry it away.

Let’s get out of here!

What are you doing? Taking a shower?

That was the first, and last time,
I ever saw a Russian girl smile.

Oh, maybe I was a fool…

but with all that wheat,
who remembered to act like a soldier?

I never found out
whether they harvested that wheat…

or let it rot.


what a downpour there was
that day in July, 1941!

Hey, doesn’t the ground
ever dry up here?

We’ve been in this muck for months!
It’s like a permanent grape-trampling season!

I don’t know anything
about grapes.

- No? What kind of hick are you, anyway?
- You’d better shut up!


I was a real Roman,
just like Colonel Sermonti said.

From the heart of the city,
Campo de’ Fiori.

In Rome, I worked as a plumber.

And my father was a cab driver.

The day I left, he said to me…

“Take care, son.
Come back home to me alive…

“or I’ll murder you!”

Well, I’d been gone four years.

They didn’t even
give me time to marry my Ginetta.

Why didn’t they send me back to Rome?

One soldier more, one soldier less…
We’re all unknown soldiers anyway.

And they already
built us a monument.

Hey, soldier,
what’s across the bridge?

Russia! Nothing but Russia
clear across the Pacific Ocean!

Lieutenant, let me fire
a couple rounds of ammunition.

Hell, are these Russians
only fighting against the Germans?

What’s the matter with us?
Are we garbage?

Every day all we do is reconnoiter.

Why, I’ll forget how to load my rifle!

Don’t worry, you’ll remember fast enough
when the time comes.

Spread out!

On your left, keep cover!

Look at the size of this one!

I speak a little… I come from Rome.

Oh, Rome!

The Pope… sunshine!

Who are all these people?

Animals for work.

Italian, always make music, eh?
Italian, no good to make war.

Italian, good to make concert,
play mandolin…

Your father’s mustache!

You make music for me.

The Internationale?

Good… good…

Just a moment.

Sing the Internationale!

Sing the Internationale!

I don’t know it.

Sing, fellas!

I don’t know it.

Quick. Quick!

Lieutenant, are they even allowed
to sing the Internationale?

Bastards! Dogs!

Stop it!

Don’t you understand?!

Enough with that shit song!

Enough! Stop singing! Quiet!

Out of my way, idiot!

Sit down!

Shut your mouth, you filthy pigs!

Out of the way, whores!

Stop singing!


Silence, Russian!

Shut up!

Sit down!

Out of the way, commie bastards!

Keep calm, stay down.

- Sit down.
- Don’t move!

- Don’t move.
- Keep quiet!

And stay down.

The first who stands up, gets shot!

Many thanks, soldier.

No weakness…

That’s my bread.

- The hell is wrong with you?!
- Stop acting like a fool!

Are you mad?!

Hurry, follow me!

You two, take that side.

You, and you,
over there, fast!

The rest, come with me.

Don’t lose any more blood. Take off your shirt
and wrap it around your leg.

Ruining a shirt?
Because of some blood?

What nonsense!

Hell, why didn’t they let me volunteer?

Getting shot like a bird…

At least I would’ve had a rifle!

Where are you from?

From a village that no longer exists.
Come on, come on!

But how did you manage to survive?

Thank God I had a bicycle.

I wanted to get to the front line. But the
Germans caught me and took my bicycle away.

But I saved the watch.

- Do you have a bicycle?
- No, why?

I can’t do anything
without a bicycle.

You know, if we had a bicycle now,
we’d get the hell out of here!

If the Germans catch us again,
they’ll kill us!

They killed all my relatives.

I’m all alone now.

What are you going to do?

If we manage to survive…

- I want to get to my people.
- Me, too.

But now it will be
difficult for me to do it.

I won’t leave you alone.
I’ll help.

Gabrielli! Bazzocchi!

Get into the the church!

You, with me!
Let’s look in the bell tower!

- It’s locked, we have to break in.
- Let’s break down the door, then!

Grain in a church!
I never saw such a thing.

It must really be true that they
don’t care about religion here any more.

I’d like to slide down this,
like I do at home!

They left a Madonna behind!



You, take position
and gather the rest of the platoon.

Gabrielli! Bazzocchi!
Where the hell are you?

Is there anyone in here?

We didn’t see anybody.

That’s blood!

Don’t move, or I’ll shoot!

Where did you steal
that wristwatch?

Hand it over!

Here, take it!

Fascist scum!


Give it, now!

There was nobody here, eh?

If I told the Colonel, you’d be shot!
I won’t say anything this time.

Snap out of it.

And keep an eye on him, he’s dangerous.

You damn fool!
Do you understand the position you put me in?

You almost killed him!

Deliver this to the major.

And you had to pick a German, yet!

It was my bread, Colonel.

You could have landed in prison!

The Germans are our allies!

But that bread was mine.

It didn’t belong to Hitler…

or Mussolini.

Or even to you,

Forget the bread!

Do you have rocks
in that idiot brain of yours?

Go to hell!

You were right
to treat me like that, Colonel.

But you never explained
why you acted as you did one day…

It was the day our regiment
encountered the Russians for the first time.

You had quite the conundrum…

I may have risked prison…

but you risked the firing squad.

Do you remember, Colonel?

We were on the Bug River.

The Russians had retreated, but they were
still bombarding us with artillery.

We had to get across a bridge.

There were only a few Russians
left fighting.

But those few Russians
fought like a thousand men.

No one crossed that bridge.

But you were on your toes, Colonel.

You were determined
to win the Battle of the Bug River.

I only talked with you once, Colonel.

I don’t even know
if you got out of this hell alive.

I would have liked to be your friend…

when rank no longer counted,
and the war was over.

What are you doing here?
Go back to your company.

Get ready, boys!
Let’s see what you’re made of!

Don’t smoke now! Idiot!


Forward, boys!

Wait until they get closer!

Now, forward!

Let’s hold it some more.
Our people will have time to move away.

First company, retreat!

Third platoon, move back!

I’ll be damned!

They’re shooting at us like ducks,
where the hell are we?!

Oh, you poor bastard!

- Have you gone mad? You’ll get killed!
- But, this guy--

Think for yourself instead!


Easy! Easy… Come here…

They’re killing us off like flies!

We have heavy losses, Colonel.
Should we retreat…

- or ask the Germans for help?
- “Ask the Germans”?!

We’d rather die! We reached that bridge,
and we’ll get across it!

Send in the Black Shirts!

Mussolini’s little boys finally woke up!


It’s easy to let victory slip through your
fingers. A moment of indecision will do it.

The Germans are trying
to claim our victory!

Have our machine guns fire on them.

- But, Colonel…
- That’s an order.

We need the factory in the city.
We have to get there before the Germans.

But they’re our allies.
We can’t fire on them.

Get me the Captain of Company C.

Fire a few rounds
in front of the Germans.

That’s an order!

Don’t cross on the bridge.
It may be mined!

Who gives a damn? We’ve won!

Wait for me!

I guess it’s time for bath now.

Come on boys,
this river will get us home sooner!

If only this were wine…!

My God, my shoe… I lost my shoe!

Listen, did we win, or not?

We’ll find out
when we get to the other side!

Occupy the factory.

And post sentries around it
before the Germans get there.

Congratulations on the battle.

But Italian machine guns
have very bad aim.

They almost hit us.

I gave the order to fire.

Your soldiers tried to claim our victory.

Hardly protocol between allies.

All foreign troops in Russia
are under German High Command.

If you dare fire again at German feet…

I’ll give orders to fire at Italian heads!

Lieutenant, take a patrol
to the back of the factory.

I’m stopping right here.

I can’t fight a war with only one shoe.

You go ahead.

Learn how to fight,
you need the experience!

Hey, if you find a shoe,
remember I’m right here!

Did they pass out
rations already?

We should live so long! Can’t they give us
time to eat before we occupy a city?

Crazy fanatics, why don’t they surrender?
They’re beaten.

Sergeant, what good is this peashooter
against a tank?

Shoot, shoot!

You see that?! I told you all
not to bother him!

Step out, and surrender!

They blew up the factory!

- Who did it?
- The Russians, of course!

They’re the ones who did it!

The Germans captured them.


we’ve rounded them up.

Give your soldiers this order…

Shoot these bandits!

They blew up the factory.

The Colonel explained
this is an Italian victory.

You’ve occupied the city.

My soldiers cannot take away from you
the honor of this execution.

Major, should I get a firing squad ready?

Very good.

Pick the men out at random.

Sir, yes, sir.

You, you and you, step forward.

You, what are you waiting for?

You and you!
Come with me for the selection.

Leave the girl alone.

She isn’t guilty.

It’s the first time we see her.

No need to persuade them.

He says… the girl is innocent.

He says
you should not execute her.


what are you waiting for?

The girl was with the others.

She is a criminal like the others.

Please, no Italian gallantry!

Line up the prisoners against the wall.

The squad is ready, Lieutenant.

All right, you give the command.

They’ll fire at your backs.

Turn around and face the wall.

Do you need a special invitation?

You dirty collaborator!

You have to turn around! Face the wall!

Move out of the way
and let’s get this over with.

Shoot the girl!


My dearest wife and children…

Now we, too, have really begun
to fight the war in earnest.

And yet…

today Russia looks like
the fields in our own town.

Like that land behind our house,

with all the sunflowers.

Do you remember I wrote to you
about Bazzocchi?

The farm-boy who’s always happy,

who doesn’t have a care in the world.


after the battle,
he ran into a field after a Russian girl.

Who knows what happened to him?

Since that day,
none of us have ever seen him again.


You know…

Maybe, deep down,
I’m a bit of a Russian myself…

Back home, they say
the grand-father of my grand-father

was born around these parts.

And it must be the truth…

What do you want from me?

This is just like the song…

A song from my village…

It says, “Let’s trade. You give me a slap…

“and I’ll give you a…

“a kiss.”

Oh, don’t do that!


It wasn’t like they told us…
It wasn’t all over by summer.

It’s snowing now, dear wife.
We already feel the cold and the frost.

While we continue to shoot.

The same friends
are still with me.

Calò, the Sicilian,

Collodi, from Tuscany,

and from Rome, Gabrielli.

They gave me the nickname “Mouse”.

The towns change…

The rivers change.

I can pronounce
their names…




But I can’t spell their names.

We’re the only ones
who don’t change.

Before, it was November…

And now it’s December.

They’re finally giving us a rest.

We soldiers call it “rotation”.

So, once again,

your husband has managed to save his skin.

Anyone here from Rome?

New soldiers are arriving…

to go to die, instead of us.

We have a hundred new men,
and we’re short on rations.

A hundred men?

Give them some canned food.

Hey, don’t tell me
you’re not staying!

No! We’re about to leave!

We’re still strong and awake,
so we can reach the march over Moscow.

We’re on the Verona–Kremlin express…

Won’t anyone tell me
if they’re coming from Rome?

Hey, what’s going on?
Someone getting ravaged by a wolf?

What do you have against the wolf?

- Are you from Rome?!
- Of course, can’t you tell?

- Neighborhood?
- San Giovanni.

I’ve always said it,
San Giovannians are always the feisty ones.


you left Rome, just to come to Russia?

You knucklehead.

Listen, I can’t remember
the last time I ate a steak.

Go figure,
mother cooked one for me before I left,

- it was as big as a soccer field!
- Nice!

Everything here
is just like back in Sicily!

Women are serious
and hard-working!

And the ground is so fertile
you could even eat it!

But they say these lands
can’t have any owners, is it true?

Well, that’s the only difference…

Difference my ass,
you think that doesn’t matter?

Hey now, young lady!

That’s enough!

You stupid bastards!

What do you think
you’re doing?

Get back to work!

Who’s he?

Julius Caesar?

Wait here.


I’m talking to you!

Where’s the officers’ diner?

Back there, Major, behind the supply shed.

Welcome, Major.
The Colonel sends his regards.

I’m Ferro Maria Ferri.


- Did you come from Italy?
- Yes…

How are things in Italy?


And they won’t get better
until we old-guard fascists take over!

It’s time to get rid of the bureaucrats.

They’re only good at playing around
with their secretaries!

I’d rather live out my life
on the battlefield.

It’s a hundred times better
than rotting in an office.

I’ve fought in Africa, France and Spain!

Did you call, Major?

Idiot! Get out of here!

Young man,
there’s an atmosphere of 1919 here!

A stink of defeatism!

Are you ill,

It’s nothing.

These severed tendons give me trouble
every so often.

- Especially in this damned climate.
- Where did it happen?

In Spain…



A Spaniard did it?

You mean, a Bolshevik!

You have any cognac?

I have to go.

We start to march on Moscow today.

How old are you?

Twenty six.

Too old,
and yet too young.

You should make the most
of your good fortune.

You’re living through
glorious chapters of history!

Good luck,

War isn’t a question of luck,
but of will and courage!

Either we’re all heroes…

or we’re all…

dead men!

The march on Moscow began.

It wasn’t like
they told us it would be, either.

It ended like this…

Don’t stop now!
We’re almost at the hospital… Come on!

I’ve had enough of this
damn stinking war!

Let’s all go home! Back to our families!

Dog! Defeatist!

I’ll teach you to be a good
Italian soldier! And a fascist!

Move on!

What are you staring at?
Do you want a beating, too?

You scared sheep!

You eunuchs!

You deserters!

We need real soldiers
if we’re going to win this war!

I’ll teach you
what we need!


First Corps of Black Shirts reporting, Major.
All present.

Very well, you’re dismissed.

Call to arms!

To Moscow! For Il Duce!

At ease.

Unload the supplies.

Why did they bring in
that corps of shock troops?

To use in the most dangerous action.
The kind you don’t come out of alive.

Then why aren’t they
coming to the front with us?

They have to get in shape first.

- With all the stuff they have to eat?
- Poor guys.

It’s only fair
they have a few good meals before they die.

Cognac and chocolate to my office.

The cigarettes go to the quartermaster.

But the packs of “3 Star” are for me.

The shock troops stayed behind.

They remained in the supply lines
to train for their “glorious” role.

And we were sent to occupy a mining center
right behind the front line.

We didn’t have a moment’s rest now.

The enemy…

was no longer only in front of us…

He was at our backs too.

In fact, he was right in our midst.

The first Russian partisans
had started operations.

What happened that night…

I can never forget.


I even ask myself…

whether it wasn’t all a dream.

I’m canceling all night patrols.
I don’t want to lose men unnecessarily.

Double the sentries
and reinforce the guards.

You, Major, and you Lieutenant…

take separate shifts.

Inspect all positions, keep the medical corps
ready for any emergency.

Excuse me, Colonel.

I’ve only been here
three days.

I’m a doctor.
Do I have to be on emergency duty?

Can’t I go to sleep?

Keep one machine-gun squad on duty
at all times.


one moment.

Do you recognize this handwriting?

If I’m not mistaken, it’s my father’s.

This got here in three days.
And they complain about the military mail!

When someone has influence,
even the military mail works.

Well, I’m Papa’s only son.
He wrote to ask you to save my skin.

Your father should
know one thing by now.

A hand grenade can kill anybody.
Even an only son with an important father!

Oh, we’re a lucky family.

We Neapolitans
have a special guardian angel!

Some Russian partisans are outside.

I beg you to forgive me, Colonel,
for my bad Italian.

But I hope you understand a little Spanish.

We have urgent need of your help.

Italian soldiers have wounded our commander,
a great friend of mine.

It happened
when he was defenseless.

He was shot while parachuting to land.

And a bullet struck him here.


Don’t I know you?

From Guadalajara?

From the
Battle of Madrid?

He must be crazy.

What information do you have for us?

Why did you surrender?



Do I look like a traitor?

I come only to ask for a doctor.
My friend must be operated on,

or he will die.

I come to you…

because I’m convinced that

good people.

My duties don’t include
helping Russian partisans.

You have not understood me.

I wish to save my friend.

I will stay here
as a hostage,

If your doctor does not return…
you can hang me!

I ask you please to excuse this disturbance.

One moment.

You’re talking to me?

What do you think about this, Lieutenant?

You know
what I’m talking about.

At Officers’ Training School,
they told us never to think in the Army.

Besides, who knows these people?

We weren’t even introduced!

Let’s not forget
that these men are partisans.

They’re outlaws.

According to military law,
all partisans should be hanged.

Anyway, since this matter
doesn’t concern me, can I go to bed?

Go on.

Just stop quoting military law.

You should remember that
you’re a doctor first, and an officer second.

I may have an important father,
but I’m not a complete louse!

Your tent is the other way.

I changed my mind.

I’ll take a walk in the woods first,
to pick mushrooms.

Will you go get my bag, please?
You, my medical bag!


I can only give you two hours time.

No, I’ll need
at least until dawn, Colonel.

If he’s not back by dawn… we’ll hang you.

May I ask what made you change your mind?

That’s just what I’m asking myself, Colonel!

You know your father asked me
to keep you out of danger.

Don’t worry, I’ll be damn careful.
I’m scared to death!

Take that man inside
and keep a close watch on him.

More men? Weren’t two of you enough?

Oh, I even get a nice carriage ride,
like a real tourist!

Take good care of me, Comrade.

Remember, he has to be back by dawn!

Now we have to stay up all night
watching this guy.

You know, he looks like an uncle of mine,
a shepherd in Sicily.

Nice relatives you have!

If you don’t mind…

I wish to sit down.

This night will be very long.

Well, look who’s here! Mouse!

One day, you offered me bread.

Yes, when you were with
all those other Russian prisoners.

It is a pity we must always
meet like this… as enemies.

What’s this? You’re buddies already?

Is this guy Italian or Russian?

He’s a man of the world!

During the Civil War in Spain…

I was a very good friend
of Italian comrades.

Italian soldiers very brave…

great killers of fascists.

And also, great players of cards!

I remember some Italians from Florence.

I knew two boys from Florence…

Always together
and always invincible!

Hey, I’m from Florence, too.

But I don’t play cards.
I was a printer on Via del Corno.

And I’m a bricklayer from Carignola.

I’m a farmer from Catania, a farmhand,
not a land owner.

I’m Gabrielli,

a plumber from Rome.
From the heart of the city!

Take it easy, friend.

This seat is hard
and my backside is delicate.

No insult intended,
but I’m used to down cushions!

You like my boots, eh?

They’re my own, not regulation Army.
Nice, eh?

My father has money.

Everyone in Naples knows us.
Why, I could live just on my income…

but being a doctor
gives me a lot of advantages.

I’m not talking about Garibaldi.
He’s a dead Italian… I’m still alive!

Tell me the truth. If I weren’t a doctor,
what would you do to me?

Oh, I may be a capitalist,
but I have brains, Comrade.

As a doctor, I can fix everybody…

The Germans, the Fascists, and the Russians.

Because doctors are respected by everybody…

just like priests.

I mean,
priests in my country.

Oh, we’re at the river. The Volga!

Now that you have me a carriage
and boat ride, how about a pretty girl?

You don’t want me to dirty my boots?
What service!

If you lose the war,
I’ll hire you to work at our house!

I feel like a little baby!

I still think he’s too young for a doctor.

Remember, those boots have to be
safely back home by dawn!

Why did you let him go, Colonel?

Oh, he’ll thank me for it.

He’ll learn that war is a serious matter…

even for boys with important fathers,
like him, and like you, Lieutenant.

Yes, of course Colonel.

But what if he doesn’t return?

These people are our enemies.

But that partisan has a loyal face.

And without a crumb of trust,

it’s impossible to survive,

Not in peace, not in war.

I gotta get there by dawn, understood?

Get a move on, hurry! Keep rowing!

Row faster!

These two are worse than Neapolitans!

Will you look at the feet on this guy?

Your feet… very big!

I know another fellow with feet like that.

My friend Pietro Schettino.

He lives in Naples, near Santa Lucia,
third floor apartment.

Right now,

my friend Pietro is with some woman.

Pietro is a Casanova, a Don Juan.

A lady’s man, understand? Like me!

But Schettino is at home now.
And I’m here.

Because I’m a moron!

Are you a Communist?

Yes? Then you don’t believe in God.

Well, when you sin,
who do you sin against?

Don’t worry about me…

I know boats.
I was an oarsman at my rowing club.

I hate to insult you,
but this trip is getting on my nerves.

Dasvidaniya to everyone!

What are you trying to do?
Are you crazy?

I’ve been afraid of the dark
since I was a little boy. I need light!

If you keep this up, I’m going right home!

So you’re going to con me into it, eh?

You know, you’re a nice little dish.

If you ever get to Naples,
I live on 263 Via Partenope, apartment 8.

I’ll be waiting for you!

You better call first. I might not be home.

I smell food. Somebody’s cooking here.

Thanks for the invitation,

but I can’t stay for dinner right now.

I’ll just have a sandwich.

When you come to Naples, I’ll show you
how to eat! I know the best chefs.

Now do me a favor,
and take this blindfold off.

Ah, can we finally
look at each other’s eyes now?

Thank you, very much, eh?

After not seeing you for a while,
you look prettier than ever!

I don’t understand Russian.


Tomorrow, you fight against us,
we fight against you.

Fine soldiers I have!

Is this how you guard a hostage?

Back to your posts!

Do you like
our Russian vodka?

I wish to propose a toast.
I drink to that marvelous day…

when we will no longer shoot at one another.

That day will come when my country is free.

Free from Germans…
and also from Italians.

Pardon my frankness.
But that is how the situation is.

To your health.

After you spend a whole night
with a guy like this…

If you met him tomorrow,
how could you shoot him?

If by chance I meet you tomorrow…

I shoot you right away!

If you meet him tomorrow,
remember that!

Let’s drink…

to the recovery of your wounded friend.

It’ll be dawn in an hour.
If our doctor isn’t back by then…

You know our agreement.

Stop it! I’m very delicate!

I’m a gentleman!

Father! Father!

It’s almost daylight.

You better hurry!

If we’re late,
they’ll hang your friend.

They’re waiting for us
at camp, understand?

They’ll hang him!

I don’t understand you.
I don’t understand.

I managed to save one Russian.

Now I want to save the other one too.

And once I…

set my mind on something,
I always manage to get it done.

Listen, comrade…

I’m dead tired.

When we get back to camp…

tell them not to wake me.

Have them carry me
very quietly, very gently to my little bed.

Partisans! Get down to the road!

Shall we wait any longer?

Why haven’t they sent him back?

It’s unbelievable!

They’re hard people, Colonel.

Maybe a doctor means more to them
than a soldier.

I don’t believe it!

Colonel, everything is ready.

The war lasted…

only three days for him.

We found him one mile from camp.

But it was already too late.

At dawn, on April, 1942…

our hostage was hanged.

Someone told us…

that his name was Alexander Serghievich.

And today, only a few of us have survived
to remember that he ever existed.

He and Lt. Mario Salvioni, physician.

Wake up, Mouse. We’re almost there.

Tomorrow, we’ll really live!

I’ll sleep til noon,
and you’ll bring me coffee in bed!

Then, everybody to the whorehouse!
I can dream, can’t I?

Are they really giving us
a month’s rest?

Enjoy it while you can.


I’ll bash in that angelic face of yours!
Where are the partisans?

Stop, thief.
Drop those items!

Come here! We won’t hurt you!

Where you going? Come here!

Let me touch those for a bit!

Don’t let her get away, boys!

Such pretty thighs, white as snow!

We won’t hurt you, now, pretty one!

Damn them!
Let’s see how they like this hand grenade!

Fuck this!

I protest the measures
you took against my storm troopers.

You should call them hoodlums!

How dare you talk to me like that?

- And moreover--
- And moreover… Keep quiet!

Do you realize
who you’re talking to?!

Yes! A man who’s using his
“storm troopers” to ambush us…

And to molest
the civilian population!

As an Italian, I am ashamed of you!
You must stop this, now!

We’ll see what Rome says
about this defeatist attitude of yours.

I’ll send a detailed report of this
to high quarters!

Major, prepare to answer for your actions
before a court martial!

If you weren’t a crippled veteran,
I swear I’d given you a good beating!

Come on, boys!
The Bolsheviks are waiting for us!

Didn’t the Colonel know
the Fascists are always right?

Well, at least he told them off.

But what good did it do him?

The Black Shirts got off scot free. And as
punishment, we get sent back to the front!

What did you expect?
A seaside vacation?

December 18, 1942…

I wonder where that crippled Major
and his storm troopers ended up.

We’re still holed up
in a defensive position

along the Don River.

How many months
have we been here?

If it weren’t for this diary,

I’d lose all track of time.

Nothing new?


They’re singing.

Every day is the same.

Nothing new ever seems to happen.

But its obvious that the Russians
are preparing a strong offensive.

Everyone asks me how
it’s going to turn out.


what can I tell them?

It’s useless to lie to the soldiers.

Instinctively, they know things
before we officers do.

Cheer up, boys,

- I brought you some wine.
- Hurry up with that coat. It’s cold!

Wha-- Are you eating that string?

It’s a little frozen.

This is as hard as a Roman brick!

Imagine. My grandfather bottles chianti.
The real chianti.

Oh, my darling chianti…
how far away you are!

Lousy mail system!
This letter took a year to get here!

It says my grandfather died.

Why the hell
do they have to hold back our mail?

I can’t cry over my grandfather
a year after he died!

What are they sending us? Love letters?

The Germans lost Stalingrad!

It says to surrender.

We’ll wipe our backsides with these!

Everyone down to the latrines!

Sergeant, it’s too cold!

Headquarters? I was cut off.
I was talking to the General.

General, this isn’t a front line anymore.
It’s more like a game of marbles!

We have one soldier every 20 feet.
And the Germans have withdrawn.

If the Russians attack,
we’ll be crushed!

Talk like a soldier, Colonel.

General, I’ll talk like
a responsible person!

Fighting without a second line
is sheer madness.

And we don’t even have enough fuel
for an orderly retreat.

Colonel, I didn’t ask
for a lesson in strategy.

But I have a thousand men
depending on me.

Remember that Garibaldi
conquered half of Italy with a thousand men!

The Germans are losing.
Did you hear what happened at Stalingrad?

If the Russians are fighting there,
they’ll leave us in peace.

But Stalingrad is nearby.

- Suppose the Russians attack here?
- Giuseppe,

there’s such a thing
as retreating, you know.

Don’t you like eating these
sunflower seeds? Just shell them.

They’re garbage!

In Rome, we feed these to the birds.

I can feel the wings sprouting out!

Let it get closer. Don’t shoot yet.

If you knew how much I wanted you,
you’d drop dead on the spot!

Damn you! Stand still!

What good will it do us now?

- Who’ll get him?
- The fish will eat him in the spring.

A Russian is getting out!

If anyone is going to get that rabbit,
it’ll be me!

Go on, get him for Florence!
And for Italy!

What son of a bitch fired?!

The Battle of the Don had begun.

What we had been expecting for so many days
became an atrocious reality.

The Germans, badly battered at Stalingrad,

had to abandon us to our tragic destiny.

No army in our condition
could have stood up against this.

The Russian thrust was overwhelming.

- Hey, hurry up!
- Wait, it’s not heated up yet!

How many are there?!

Colonel, what should we do?!

Resist, for as long as possible.

Shoot! What are you staring at?



Attack! Forward!

- I can’t take it anymore!
- Come on, get up and walk!

Keep walking!

Forward, let’s go!

Reassemble the squadrons,
we’ll meet up at the flanks of the river.

Courage, and don’t disband!

Keep the squadrons together.
We’ll dig in again on the banks of the river.

The Russians have us surrounded!

Try to get the men to safety.
Do as I told you.

If you get through,
send up three flares.

Thank you for your confidence, Colonel.

Go! Stop wasting time!

Move! Let’s head towards the forest.

Keep it up, Rome!

Keep firing!
Give them time to get through!

You can count on us, Colonel.

- Lieutenant…
- What is it?


That soldier from Puglia, my friend…
Do you remember him?

- Giuseppe Sanna.
- Yes…

He disappeared…
the same day the Russians attacked us.

Walk, let’s worry about the living now.

Not the dead…


Mother… Someone, help me!

I can’t see anymore! Help me!

Who has the ammo?!


Don’t bother, Colonel.

Don’t worry, it’s nothing.

Why do you want to dirty your handkerchief?

They got through.

Now we’ll get through, too,

Come on, soldier, let’s go!

Major, they’ve--


Dear God…

Don’t stop, keep moving… Go!


aren’t you coming?

Sir, let’s go!

So many dead…

Yes, Colonel.

Do you think that…

its my fault they died?

Lieutenant, wait. Where’s the Colonel?

Colonel, where are you?

We honor those who fell here.

How many empty pages
in my diary since that day…

I began the long, empty void of prison life.

And my soldiers…

I have no idea how much time went by…

before I learned the fate
of the few survivors of my regiment.

For them, the worst was yet to come.

Andrea, I saved a spot for you!

Hurry, hurry!

Leave it to the Germans.

Even when they retreat they’re mobilized.

But us? We’re always on foot!

Light me up.

They’ve even got women, these Nazis!

You know…

I thought you were an Unknown Soldier!

Anybody from the 3rd platoon?
Where’s the 3rd platoon?

We’re soldiers just like you!

This truck isn’t for Italians.

What happened to the Lieutenant?

We’ll never find him now.

Let’s stop a minute.

Answer me. Talk, will you?

I’m not tired, but I want to stop and talk.

I can walk forever.
I can out-walk you any time.

But I want to know where we’re going.
Stop a minute, will you?


Where does he think he’s going?

Soldiers and officers!

You are surrounded!

Our Soviet forces greatly outnumber you.

It is senseless to resist.

Spare yourselves useless bloodshed.

The Commander of the Russian Army

asks you to lay down your arms…

and to surrender as prisoners of war.

Where are you going?

What is going on in that head of yours?

Are you crazy? If you surrender,
you won’t live to return home again!

Fourth platoon! With me!

Forward, fellas, whatever it takes!

For Il Duce!

Here, boys, stick together!

We must fight, or they’ll take us all!

Get your weapons
and keep your chin up!

Forward, soldiers!


come over here! There’s a good fire.

Giuseppe, there’s a stove left!

Hurry, before someone gets to it first.

By God, let’s warm up. This damned war!


This fire, it’s like summer in Seville,

- in the middle of July!
- You’re right!

Save some.

I told you to save some.

You think…

we’ll ever get back to Italy?

You know, today is Christmas.

I’ve been keeping count for a week,

tomorrow is Christmas.

Christmas was yesterday.

- Blessed be the Virgin of Macarena.
- Damn Spaniards!

If it were tomorrow,

I would’ve loved a big Christmas dinner.

I can dream, can’t I?

Boys! Get to cover! Close to the ground!

Stay close to me, don’t get lost,
I get confused with all these mustaches.

There’s no room!

The damn horse is hard as a rock!

So what? It’s still something to eat.

Give me your hand! Help me get on!

Stop! For God’s sake!

Italian comrade, let me climb up.

Slow down, you’re killing them!

If I stop, it’s over!

Give me your hand, comrade, your hand!

Stop! Stop!

We’re all Italians--

Stop! Stop--

I’m Spanish, let me climb in!

We’re fighting for the same cause!
Long live Spain!



Stop, you disgusting murderer!

- I can’t…
- I want to go home! Stop!

- Out, scumbag!
- Hey, I know that guy!

Yes! He’s the commander
of the Fascists!

You, too, are escaping now?!

Damned scumbag! Rat!

You ambushed us, you pig!

Where are you going, traitor?

There’s not even a hole left to sleep in.

Those bastard Germans
took every damn place.

I would even sleep on top of this fire.

There was a farmhouse.
There’s nothing left but the floor.

These Russians…

Did they have to burn down
all their houses, too?

Giuseppe, there’s a cellar underneath there!

Stop! We’re Italians. Italians!

He must be a deserter.

How so?

How else would you call him?
He’s holed up in here.

I don’t know.

I don’t like the word “deserter”.

He may have other reasons
besides saving his skin.


Don’t let him see that you have food.

Maybe he’ll give us some of his.

Save all of the food you can. Put it away.

The fight is getting closer.

What’s he doing? Taking a leak?

When the Germans take time to piss,
it means there’s no danger.

Hey, Giuseppe, I’ve got an idea.

If you listen to me,
I’m sure we can get out of this alive.


And what does this guy want now?

Here you are!


I told you!

Danke schön.


What a lad…

Here you are.


Are you listening?

I’ve been thinking about this for three days.

The Russians are attacking
the large concentrations of troops.

So, why stay in the middle of the herd?

Let’s go off on our own.

We two can make better time
than a whole regiment.

And who’s going to bother us?

The Russians won’t waste artillery
on two slobs like us!

Look, he’s even got goulash.

We’ll always find
food and shelter.

We’ll always find some old farmers
who are still Christians.

Well, what do you say? Are you with me?

And what happens
when you get there?

They wash you,

shave and dress you…

And send you back to the front again
to conquer Russia!

I’ve been thinking, too.

And not just for three days…

but even before we got this country.

You saw what I did.

I fought, I killed
just like the others.

But deep inside, I felt like dying myself.

Well, I’ve had enough.

I won’t go on killing people
who never did anything to me!

What will you do?

Just what he’ll do.

And what a lot of others will do.

I’m staying here
and waiting for the Russians.

And if you’re smart,
you’ll do the same thing.

Me, a prisoner?

Don’t make me laugh, Giuseppe.

I come from a long line of free men.

I intend to go on as a free man!

Do what you want.
If you don’t come, too bad for you.

I’m not afraid to go alone.

I’ll get some sleep…

and I’ll be
strong as a lion.

I hope we both have luck.

I’ve never said anything before,
out of respect for our friendship…

but I always knew
what your politics were.

He kept on talking…

and talking.

He slept and he talked,

but he didn’t really believe
all the things he was saying.

Meanwhile, the fighting
kept getting closer.

He was better off
not hearing anything.


Hurry up if you want to get away.

The Russians will be here soon.

If you manage to get through…

Take this to my family.

Rome isn’t far from Carignala.

And you’ll get to see a nice village.

You want the rifle?

You take the food.
What do I need it for now?

He wants to give you the compass.

You may need it.

Will you look at this guy?

Next time, think twice
before you start another war!

This is only extra weight.

Good luck.

Libero Gabrielli,

soldier from Rome…

Where did they take you that day?

Who knows if we’ll ever meet again?

You have to spend two years of war together…

to understand what it means to lose a friend.

He was a good man.

He had heart
and he had courage.

More than most of the guys
who get the medals.

I only hope that he got through alive.

This is north…

and my house is south.

I’ll beat Russia yet!

What the hell are you hitting me for?

Are you crazy or what?

What are you crying for?

Eh, Katyusha?

First, you hit me, then you cry?

Not Katyusha.


The hell do I know…

Every girl here is named Katyusha.

You’ve got a nice, safe tank here.
Why cry?


Yes, I’m an Italian…

An unlucky slob like you.

Our pretty, little Russians
ran out of luck, eh?

Oh, I get the picture.

First, you mingle with the Germans,
and now you’re afraid of your own people.

Listen, I’m an anarchist.
So with me, anything goes!

Take it easy, this isn’t a bar!

Laugh, laugh…
You’re lucky you can still laugh.

Tomorrow… Can we leave together?


Sure, why not?

You know the roads?

Yes, I can be your guide.
Just don’t leave me behind!

Who’s leaving you?

It’s dark now.

Are you sleepy?


I’ll plant myself right here.
You sleep wherever you want.

What are you doing?

I’m dead tired, my girl.

I’ve been in this war for 1,460 days!

Stay here.

Keep me warm.

It’s so peaceful it doesn’t seem real.

I’m young.

I haven’t lived yet.

It’s all been a mistake.

I don’t want to die.

I’m from Rome.


Where my home is…

and my bed.

I haven’t slept much in my own bed.

But it’s there that I should die.

When the time comes… it’s there I should die.

I have a girl waiting for me in Rome.

A dream of a girl.

Her name is Ginetta.

Wait! Italian!

We can’t walk half an hour, and then stop!

Come on! Courage!

Come on, walk!

Where’s this farmhouse?
Where’s this village?

Yes, village. Yes.

Two kilometers. Kolkhoz.

Two kilometers…
You’re not making this up, are you?

Damn, get down!

Where is this village?

Where is this farmhouse?

Where is it? Tell me the truth!

No village. No village.

No kolkhoz.

I’m sick!

I’m tired!

So, you tricked me.

You wanted to walk? Walk to Rome.

No village…

There’s no village!

There must be one house left standing.

They can’t have leveled all of them!

Listen, you wait here.
I’ll come back for you.

Wait here a minute.

I’ll be back. Wait.

You’re all pigs!

All you Germans…

and you Italians!


Come back!

I don’t want to die!

Giuseppe, maybe you were right.
Who knows?

But I’ll get home!
And I’ll take this photo to Cerignola!

Russia isn’t going to get me!

Where are they?



Wait for me!


I’m right here!

Where are they?!


It’s all over.

Dig your grave. This is the end.

This will be your bed…

Your home…