The Steel Helmet (1951)

The Steel Helmet (Samuel Fuller, 1951)

Set during the Korean War, The Steel Helmet was written, directed, and produced by Sam Fuller. Shot entirely in studio it tells the story of a soldier, Sergeant Zack, who lost his entire batallion. He meets a young Korean boy who will help him find a small group of American soldiers. They took refuge in a Buddhist temple but got caught in a "guet-à-pents".

This is epic Sam Fuller filmmaking, the story doesn't depicts a great battle or a turnover in War. It presents simple soldiers doing the best they can with the only resources they can count on: their will to continue. This film shows great respect to the soldiers that give everything they had in Wars. The ending is particular because it says that this is not an end for these soldiers. Despite some cheesy emotional moments with the young boy this is a very manish picture that doesn't pretend to be more than it is: a true American gem. Well, there is nothing epic in the common sense of the word or genre but in the directing way it's an epic film.

Students in filmmaking school should watch all of Fuller's films (especially the 1950's) to understand what storytelling is all about. Even if it's not Sam Fuller's best picture it shows lots of reality and true heart, a very modest film that was way ahead of its time for its form and its substance.

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