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 ...
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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 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
Tony Richardson was a notoriously difficult director. At one stage he wanted the Guardsmen at the Battle of the Alma to wear blue tunics, which he thought would look better on screen than the authentic scarlet. He only relented when his military/historical adviser, Boris Mollo, threatened to resign. See more »
When the recruits are being stripped and washed, several of them have modern-day tan lines (from swimming costumes). See more »
We have to wait nearly two hours for the eponymous event which climaxes this film. Prior to this we see a series of apparently unconnected episodes which give the viewer an insight into the workings of Victorian society, including anti-intellectuallism and idleness among the 'upper' classes, and brutality and theft among the 'scum' recruited in the slums.
While almost plot less this section of the film does follow a core of characters whose lives are connected by army service. The main character is Captain Louis Nolan, an idealistic professional in an army of amateurs. "England is looking well" he says in the first scene of the film. The irony is that the country that looks so good is a cruel and mismanaged place. Unlike his fellow officers, who have bought their posts, he has worked his way up the ranks of the Indian Army by merit. He despises them and they feel he isn't a 'gentleman'.
Nolan has very definite views on how war should be fought. Faced with the reality of battle and the inadequacies of the commanders (the senile Raglan and the childish Lucan and Cardigan) his impatience and temper have tragic consequences as he impetuously points the Light Brigade ("There, my Lord, is your enemy, there are your guns!") towards the bloody fiasco of which he is the first victim. The man who seems to know best makes the biggest blunder of all. Eye-witnesses said the hideous scream Nolan gave when he was hit stayed with them all their lives and the film re-creates it in a truly chilling way.
Although the film does reflect 1960's attitudes to war and politics (and I actually prefer these to the attitudes of the 21st Century) its setting is so perfectly realized that it hasn't dated as a '60s film'. In fact it seems better with the passage of time. If you can free yourself from the idea of a narrative history and give yourself up to a series of impressions which add new layers of understanding 'Charge of the Light Brigade' makes a fine historical film.
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