A chronicle of events that led to the British involvement in the Crimean War against Russia and which led to the siege of Sevastopol and the fierce Battle of Balaclava on October 25, 1854 ... See full summary »
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Part of the British 'Free Cinema' movement, which included Lindsay Anderson's 'Every Day Except Christmas' (daily life at Covent Garden fruit/vegetable market) and 'O Dreamland' (a ... See full summary »
A chronicle of events that led to the British involvement in the Crimean War against Russia and which led to the siege of Sevastopol and the fierce Battle of Balaclava on October 25, 1854 which climaxed with the heroic, but near-disastrous cavalry charge made by the British Light Brigade against a Russian artillery battery in a small valley which resulted in the near-destruction of the brigade due to error of judgment and rash planning on part by the inept British commanders. Written by
This overlooked masterwork of director Tony Richardson seemed to have dropped off the face of the earth until resurfacing on video a few years back. Seeing it again after a quarter century only made it seem even better.
It's a strong anti-war film but not strident or unfair. David Hemmings as Captain Nolan has his own definite ideas about fighting wars and improving the army. He is revolted by the brutality and stupidity of the officers towards the men, but he has a tragic fatal flaw. He believes that war, the main reason for a soldier's existence, is a proud undertaking that is best fought aggressively. This leads to disaster for him and his regiment.
Shining brightest among a stellar cast is Trevor Howard as Lord Cardigan, who despite his high social position and the finery he surrounds himself with is a brute and a boor. Howard's portrayal is classic. Harry Andrews is also excellent as Lord Lucan, Cardigan's brother-in-law and fierce rival. Of course John Gielgud also excels as Lord Raglan, the tired old soldier who leads the brigade. One weak spot in the movie is that the role played by Vanessa Redgrave seems rather tacked-on without great purpose. The only significant female role is handled well by Jill Bennett.
The charge occurs during the last part of the film and you'll want to watch it again to determine what really went wrong and who was at fault; though let me warn you, those answers aren't at all clear. What is abundantly clear is that this is a superb motion picture that deserves to be more widely seen.
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