Reveille (War, Drama) (2023)
Director: Michael Akkerman
Writer: Michael Akkerman
Stars: Kevin Sinic, Bernd Wittneben, Maxwell David Marcus, Jared Becker
Somewhere on an Italian mountain range during WWII, a firefight ensues between American and German forces. Leading to a quick surrender, with the remaining wounded troops captured and left to the mercy of the opposing party while a bombardment restricts their further movement.
In what serves as his feature film debut, Michael Akkerman intends to create a war film prioritising historical accuracy. His vision and a degree of perfectionism cause ‘’Reveille’’ to present much differently to Hollywood’s interpretations of the Second World War, and it seems to focus more on interpersonal relationships than warfare. Using only a limited budget, Akkerman’s film has been produced by Footsteps Researchers LLC, Film Farm Iowa LLC and Mike’s Militaria while being distributed by Buffalo 8 Productions and published on YouTube.
During a skirmish along the Winter Line in central Italy, several German soldiers are captured by a squad of Americans confronting compassion to a certain degree and caring for the wounded opposing force covering during a bombardment, discovering humanity and answering unexpected questions doubting their moral compasses.
Opposed to what Akkerman is familiar with seeing in major productions, his feature film ‘’Reveille’’ intends to show realistic depictions of the hardships in war scenarios. His vision would likely have been passed over by major studios with a script seen as inconsequential. Nevertheless, there’s an artistry in the details of this personal detailing of soldiers’ mentality and understanding of the situation they find themselves in.
Between perception and commitment is drawn a fine line in ‘’Reveille’’. Within a script mostly devoid of an actual guiding narrative, the actors bear the weight of relying on emotion and sympathy to elevate an impressive yet featureless plot. Sympathy for a side previously depicted as purely hateful is an essential aspect of Akkerman’s fictional tale, which is based on true accounts and stories.
Following the squad of Sinic’s Sergeant Artur and Wittneben’s Staff Sergeant Brander, bonds are quickly established despite their allegiance. Further familiarising with this group provides more relation, and basic interactions serve as tissue between scenes, never relying on action set pieces. Eventually, placed in a situation where survival among supposed opposing contingents continues to deepen the human approach and perspective during such a harsh conflict seems vital.
Within a picture largely narratively undefined, so reliant on the human experience, it’s difficult to say how major audiences would respond. Certainly worth some praise are the uses of language, costuming, props and environmental shots. Themes of compassion and sympathy use the characters as vessels in minimal surroundings. Akkerman’s future remains an untold story, which time and experience will further define; more of an angle in storytelling would present a more chiselled end result, though.
Revelling in a director’s awakening.