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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 calvary 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 judgement and rash planning on part by the inept British commanders. Written by
Anyone who is looking for an historically accurate depiction of the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava, and the events that preceded it, had best leave this one on the video store shelf. Visually, the movie is well done and the cavalry action scenes are nearly as good as those portrayed in Sergei Bondarchuk's "Waterloo" - despite the fact that Bondarchuk had most of the Russian Army as extras. Unfortunately, director Tony Richardson couldn't make up his mind whether he was making a movie or a social commentary and his indecision pervades the story line from beginning to end. I notice that some other commentators here have praised the film for its accuracy. In reality it was anything but - most of the sub-plots were fabricated and some of the actual battle scenes are either gross distortions of what actually happened or improbable speculations. Captain William Morris (17th. Lancers), for example, was not foppish dilettante soldier portrayed - rather he was a tough, seasoned professional who had attended the Royal Military College, served in three previous campaigns and had taken part in the charge against the Sikh guns at Aliwal, India. Nor did he ride back wounded to the British lines after the charge as the movie would have it - in fact he was so badly wounded that he was left on the battlefield and was rescued much later by two of his comrades, both of whom received the Victoria Cross. And Captain Louis Nolan certainly didn't have an affair with Morris' wife (Vanessa Redgrave) as the plot implies - Nolan had never met Morris before they were both sent to the Crimea.
It was much in vogue to make iconoclastic war movies in the late '60s - "Oh! What a Lovely War", was another - probably because of Vietnam. It's a great pity that Richardson choose 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' as his protest vehicle since it leaves an enduring stain on the memory of 700 very gallant men. Yes, there were 700, not 600 - Tennyson got it wrong.
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