Slow Motion in Sam Peckinpak’s Cross Of Iron

Cross Of Iron (1977)

In Sam Peckinpak’s war film (anti-war) Cross Of Iron we see the use of slow motion. The hyperbole of violence, normal in all war films, is brought to the foreground in Cross Of Iron by the repeated use of slow motion. The slow motion shots delay the conclusion of violence, robbing it of its ability to be a momentary action; the consequence of shooting reverberates longer than it normally does because of the slow motion style. And we as viewers are not permitted to ignore the ignoble truth of every bullet. The consequence and bloody violence is drawn out by the use of slow motion.

However there is a danger that comes with the use of slow motion; namely that the violence obtains a sort of fetishistic stage where the audience intensifies its status as voyeurs enjoying the exploitation of blood letting. To avoid this the structure around the violence must inform the film’s position and communicate a sense of anti-violence and anti-war – because if that doesn’t then the film appears to enjoy and delight in the blood shedding.

Cross Of Iron communicates its anti-war sentiment by highlighting the worn-down attitude of the German soldiers. The wish to allow the captured Soviet boy return symbolises. The fresh ambitious Prussian officer Hauptmann Stransky demands the shooting of the Soviet boy; his adherence to the rulebook indicates how broken and disaffected the other German soldiers really are. The lack of any clear distinctive military targets and aims also communicates a sense of confusion which supplements the feeling that all war is aimless slaughter. Because these elements are highlighted the slow motion retains the critique of violence.