Uomo dalla croce (The Man from the Cross, 1943)


An Italian tank division is sent to the Russian front in summer of 1942. In an exchange of fire, an Italian tankman is wounded and cannot move forward with the rest of the division. A courageous army chaplain volunteers to stay behind with the wounded man even though he realizes that they will surely be imprisoned by Russian troops. All of the Italian soldiers captured by the Russian troops are collected together in front of a Communist magistrate who questions them in perfect Italian. One soldier, captured while holding a Fascist Party card in his pocket, is questioned and refuses to give any information. He is shot and killed for his lack of cooperation. At this point, the Italian troops attack the Russians and chaos takes over.

The army chaplain drags the wounded tankman into a nearby farm building where Russian peasant women are also hiding. Not long after, a group of Russian partisans seek shelter in the hut. The group is led by Sergei who is assisted by his girlfriend, Irina. This mixed group is then joined by some Italian tankmen who have abandoned their damaged vehicle. To the horror of the partisans, the shelter is overtaken by Italian troops. As a struggle ensues for the control of the shelter, yet another soldier joins the group, a badly burned Russian soldier named Fydor, who, by coincidence, happens to be the ex-fiance of Irina. As Sergei and the Russian partisans fight to push back the Italians, Fydor shoots Sergei in the back in a jealous fit of rage.

Just as the fighting begins to slow down, a pregnant Russian women goes into labor and the army chaplain delivers a healthy a baby boy whom he baptizes Nicola. The Russian women gather around the baby as the army chaplain explains the sacrament of baptism and demonstrates other Christian gestures. This Christian message is ultimately directed toward Irina who feels anger and hatred toward Fydor over Sergeiís death. Finally, Italian troops take decisive control over the small village and Fydor is wounded in the fighting. Struggling to care for the dying Fydor, the army chaplain, in a final Christian gesture, is mortally wounded.


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