saints & soldiers: behind the scenes

Saints & Soldiers is brilliant.  A perfect little gem of a movie, each piece – story, characters, dialogue, message – fitting together so perfectly that there isn’t a thing I would change about it. (I really mean that, even with all the feels I have about the fates of certain characters.)  It’s seriously edging out The Longest Day as my favorite movie, though I’m not saying it’s a better film than The Longest Day; I just love it more, because even with all the sadness, Saints & Soldiers is my happy place.  That probably sounds weird to a lot of people, but I love and know the characters very, very well, and that makes all the difference.  Recently, when I watched Saints & Soldiers: Airborne Creed, I kept feeling like something was missing, and by the time I got to the end, I’d realized what it was.  Or, rather, who it was – basically, all the characters from the first movie (Corbin Allred was in there, but playing a different character from Deacon, and it was kind of disconcerting to hear him drop the occasional h-word).  It was still a good movie but, yeah, I missed Winley and Gunderson and all the rest.

Anyway.  I’m not here to talk about Airborne Creed or the perfection of Saints & Soldiers (though I could do both), but instead share some interesting behind-the-scenes information I picked up from watching the commentary (partly doing this so I won’t forget all the best parts, but I know some of my followers have seen S&S, so it works for them, too).  There’s going to be spoilers, so if you haven’t seen this movie yet, I recommend you don’t read this post until you do.

Here we go!

____________________________

Deacon - Saints & Soldiers // @inklingspress - Bought the DVD today.  REMEMBER ALL THE AWFUL FEELS???

A few parts of the film were ad-libbed.  The two scenes mentioned on the commentary were 1) near the beginning, when everyone is sharing where they’re from, the conversation about jazz was the actors’ idea and 2) Peter Holden (Gunderson) added the line near the end where he says “I think I want to learn French.” (Because of his maybe-relationship with Katrine, of course.)

~

Peter Holden brought up the idea of a romantic thing between Gunderson and Katrine to director Ryan Little and was told to go for it.  It worked – Gunderson/Katrine is now one of my OTPs. (That kiss he gave her?  PERFECT.)

~

Peter Holden also asked if his character’s name could be changed to Gordon Gunderson, because that was the name of his grandfather, who really fought in the Battle of the Bulge (and won quite a few medals).  The director said yes, so he was pretty much playing his grandfather (Holden also said in an interview that he could see traces of his grandfather’s personality in Gunderson).  Is that not cool?  Obviously, he had a bunch of awesome ideas.

~

When Alexander Niver (Gould) came in to read for a part, he wanted to play Gunderson, but it wasn’t until he tried out Gould’s part that things clicked.  And Peter Holden had originally wanted the part of Gould, but ended up being much better suited to play Gunderson. (MUCH better.)

~

The piece of wood that Gould is whittling in that one scene in Katrine’s cellar turned out to be a figurine of Hitler that Alexander Niver had actually carved.

~

Because it was so cold on set, hand warmers were provided for all the cast, and Alexander Niver took to swiping them (for reasons that are beyond anyone).  Director Ryan Little commented, laughingly, that it fit with the character of Gould, since he body-robs dead soldiers. (Funny and not funny all at the same time.)

~

In all the far-off shots of the characters tramping through the snowy woods, none of the real cast was used, because stand-ins were cheaper.  In one of those scenes, the person playing Gould is a girl.

~

The first thing ever filmed was Gunderson entering Katrine’s cellar, rifle ready to repel any hostiles.

~

According to the cast and crew, Corbin Allred (Deacon) is obsessed with guns – a gun freak, as Ryan Little termed him.  (He must’ve had fun on-set.)

~

Deacon survived in the original script.  And, I’m sorry, but that just wouldn’t have fit, because the way I see it, Deacon could only have gotten redemption and peace through death (ugh, that sounds morbid) (but it’s TRUE).  I’m glad they changed it in the end.

~

When Deacon goes out to keep watch at the first little hut the group comes to, the figure he sees in the woods is really Corbin Allred’s girlfriend (well, girlfriend-at-the-time), who put on Gould’s coat and stood in the shadows, per the director’s instructions.  The commentators said, in a joking way, that it was the death knell of their relationship.  Probably not, though.

~

Kirby Heyborne (Winley) doesn’t smoke, which is kind of ironic, considering that cigarettes are a huge part of the subplot with him and Kendrick.  Anyway, to circumvent that problem, they got him some herbal cigarettes which, according to Heyborne, tasted like dead leaves.  What some people will do for a role…

~

The photo of his wife Deacon carries around in his Bible is actually a picture of his grandmother that his grandfather carried everywhere during World War Two.  How perfect is that???

~

For the scene where Winley falls down the waterfall, Kirby Heyborne did his own stunt.  Which sounds scary, but it turns out the waterfall is a popular slide for kids in the area during the summer, so he wasn’t in too much danger. (The water had to be freezing, though.)

~

During much of the filming, the snow refused to cooperate, so the crew went out and bought every box of instant potatoes they could find and blew it around with fans to create ‘snow’.  It looks realistic (I can always feel the cold whenever I watch Saints & Soldiers), but the cast hated it because the stuff itched and it jammed up their weapons. Weird, huh?

~

Several incidents in the story are drawn from real life events: soldiers hiding in a cellar under some Germans, a German soldier making an angel out of tinfoil, and the whole thing with Deacon not being able to shoot Rudy and then meeting up with him just a little later.  So, when the opening titles say that ‘this movie is based on actual events’, they’re not lying.

~

The sets for Katrine’s cellar and Deacon’s flashback are the same, just re-dressed.

~

Corbin Allred’s brother, Jason, makes a cameo as the German soldier who stops to take a bathroom break and then discovers Deacon, Winley, and the others in hiding.

____________________________

Have you watched Saints & Soldiers?  Did any of this trivia intrigue or surprise you?  Let me know in the comments!

Eva

Advertisements

One thought on “saints & soldiers: behind the scenes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s