August 28, 2020
Billy Wilder’s inaccurate representation of a POW camp
Billy Wilder could have chosen to make Stalag 17 more accurate. However, he chose to paint a negatively different picture of a prisoner-of-war camp, which doesn’t come close to a real POW camp. Christmas lights/trees, horse races, and other fun activities are displayed throughout this version of a POW camp. These kind of events are very inaccurate for a POW camp, especially since the German soldiers in WWII were much worse than how they are portrayed in the film. Wilder could have made the events in the film more accurate than how the final product comes out. I also found the change in genre to be awkward. At first, Stalag 17 opens up with a serious tone embedded within it. The first 10-or-so minutes involve two prisoners attempting an escape; the escape is botched when they are caught by German soldiers and shot. However, the next 45-or-so minutes of the film transition from a serious war film to a fun comedy. This transition, however, doesn’t work with the film’s plot. You see, a film that mixes two genres, but does so using an effective method, works as a film. However, a film that starts as one genre, but changes to another as the film progresses, doesn’t always work. A film could use this concept, but in a more effective way. In this case, Stalag 17 meets the criteria of a film starting in one tone, but changing to another. This concept just doesn’t work as the film progresses. I also found one of the characters, Animal, to be an unnecessary character. This character didn’t drive the film’s plot forward, and actually stalled the plot’s progression. Animal’s character wasn’t helpful in the film. He also was a little annoying for me as well. I couldn’t watch the full movie; I only saw the first hour of it and then turned it off in disappointment. Nonetheless, here is a brief content description of the film (at least, what I saw of the film): Positive messages: N/A. No clear positive messages in this film. Positive role models: N/A Violence: 5/10. An early scene in the film involves two prisoners shot by German soldiers. No blood is shown, but the scene could still be intense for sensitive viewers. Sex: 2/10. Nothing overtly sexual happens in the film, but Animal does frequently talk about his crush/love interest, and swoons over her throughout the film. Profanity: 0/10. Nothing that I remember in this category. Drinking/Drugs/Smoking: 0/10. Nothing that I remember. Bottom line, Stalag 17 isn’t worth the 2 hours, and ultimately provides us with an unrealistic presentation of life in a POW camp. The depiction of horse races, Christmas lights/trees, etc. add to Billy Wilder’s inaccurate portrayal of prison life. The events depicted throughout the film (including the events I just listed above) would certainly not occur in real life, but Wilder’s vision seems more of a fantasy than a reality. The film also had a change of tone, which in this case, was ineffective when used. The film starts with a serious tone, but then changes into a comedy, which doesn’t always work, particularly in the case of Stalag 17. I also found Animal’s character to be unhelpful to the plot’s progression; his character didn’t move any plot-related event forward, and certainly wasn’t needed in the film. It is a shame that sometimes even a talented director like Billy Wilder sadly wastes his talent with a disappointing film like this one. Therefore, I give Stalag 17 1 out of 5 stars, and do not recommend it to anyone.
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August 18, 2010
Teens and up
Stalag 17 can be summed up in one word, "Exciting".