Movie Review: Cross of Iron, Part II
Brent Richards once again delves into the similarities and differences between the book and movie, 'Cross of Iron.' This time Brent analyzes the lead character Corporal Steiner.
Cross of Iron 2
Editor's Note: This is the second article discussing the movie and the book of the same name, Cross of Iron. For an introduction to the subject matter, please read Brent Richard's first article on Cross of Iron.
"It surprises me, incidentally, that this-what did you say his name was?" Captain Stransky looked at Lieutenant Meyer.
"You mean Steiner?"
"Yes. Well, as I was saying, it surprises me to hear that this man Steiner, in spite of his remarkable talents and services, is only a corporal"
As Cross of Iron begins it is the spring of 1943 and it is obvious that Rolf Steiner is a long serving, highly decorated veteran, perhaps even an original member of the 100,000 man Weimar Army. Yet Steiner is only holding the rank of corporal. The question that immediately comes to mind is why?
Having served with such obvious distinction to have been awarded the Iron Cross 2nd and 1st Class and the Close Combat Clasp in Gold Steiner should easily be already a senior sergeant or even a junior officer after 4 years of war. Senior NCO's and junior officers were in such short supply that it is almost incomprehensible that Steiner is just a corporal, the same rank as Schnurrbart.
In the film this subject is never brought up, yet in the book it is the underlying reason for much of the animosity that develops between Captain Stransky and Steiner. Stransky is curious and he goes looking for the answer. An answer, as it turns out, that becomes a grim reminder of the fallibility of man and the path to redemption.
This is an excerpt from the first draft of the screenplay that closely follows the book. It makes clear the reason Steiner is a corporal and it reveals a unique side to the character. It also shows that there was not one woman at the hospital where Steiner was recovering from his wound, but three. Steiner has been sent to Gursuf on the Black Sea coast where he has 2 nurses he becomes involved with and an encounter with a shadow from his past. In the film the characters were combined into one, Eva, played by Senta Berger.