Sean Connery is the main star in this film which shows the brutal treatment of some prisoners on an army base. There are 5 prisoners in the group and they are abused by the sadistic guards, who also intimidate some of the more soft-hearted officers. The main object used to torture them is a massive hill of sand, which the prisoners are required to run up and down while carrying their equipment.
The Hill starts off with a lot of tension and the actors around Connery all give strong performances, especially the hateful guards who inhabit their roles with devilish glee. The other prisoners all have unique personalities and every character feels real. The other officers are frustrating in their impotence and the film is a cry against bullying. It does drag a little as it builds up to the end but the climax is what gives this film such a high recommendation.
The ending is full of pathos, frustration, catharsis and glee. It’s a mixture of emotion and even though the villains of the piece get their comeuppance you can’t feel satisfied by it.
I’d recommend this film to anyone who likes hard-hitting stories, especially ones in a military setting. There’s not much attention given to what most of the soldiers stationed on the base think, but I suppose as far as they’re concerned the prisoners are prisoners for a reason and probably deserve all the treatment they get. The themes it explores are pretty interesting and the hill is ominous in the background.
One thing that really impressed me was the staging of the base. When the action was outside there were groups of soldiers doing various training exercises in the background, lending an air of authenticity to the film as you really felt this was a real base, although I suppose that attention to detail is what you get when you have a director as talented as Sidney Lumet heading proceedings. It’s certainly not as famous as 12 Angry Men or Dog Day Afternoon, and it’s not one of Connery’s best known roles either but it’s one that is filled with tension and the ending is superb.