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5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Amazing Story, Amazingly Depressing

Author: verbusen from Fahaheel, Kuwait
30 December 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I just watched the DVD version of this film which one would hope is the uncut version, but I don't know. This story of 7 men trapped alive and forgotten in a blockhouse during D Day is utterly depressing. It reminded me of men trapped in a submarine and the moments they would endure until their air would run out, except here there is plenty of air (God knows how fresh it would be), and food and water. The movie really glorifies an utterly depressing concept and even so it couldn't raise it to any kind of joyful ending for me as it does not show the eventual liberation of the survivors just a shocking credit saying they were freed after 6 years (and 4 without any light). The movie takes you through only their first year and these guys are using thousands of candles to light a raceway for a bicycle track. It doesn't go far past that point and into the the maddening darkness period. The movie, while it may be a true story, I'm not sure merited making a movie of. I think it was picked more to show what 7 men do when they are alone in the world and less a tale of escape from doom, thus homosexual elements are introduced in the film. It's a world war 2 story told through an artsy prism. I thought after viewing it that it was a very strange subject to have been picked to be filmed and also very, very depressing. 5 stars.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

One of the Most Overlooked Great Films

Author: Bunky Maidwallow from United States
6 April 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is truly one of the most overlooked great films. Peter Sellers gives an outstanding performance of a person dealing with isolation, desperation, death, and lost loved ones. It moved me more than I have ever been moved by a single movie. The trapped men try to make the best of their enforced prison, but they also have to deal with the fact they may never get out.

I loved the way Seller's character towards the end of the film made the best use of the precious remaining lighting. Because they were in a underground bunker, there was no light except what they could burn, and they were eventually running out of things that would burn.

I saw this originally on local cable years ago, and have searched and searched to find a copy to buy or rent to no avail. If you ever have the chance to see this, do not pass it by.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Well made, but life is too short...

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
27 May 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is well made, but who would want to watch films this dreadfully depressing and dull?! Well, I decided to see it even though I had no idea what the film was about--if I had, I might have skipped it. So why did I choose this film? Well, I really enjoy seeing Peter Sellers' films, though I will admit that his output varied tremendously--with quite a few inexplicable duds buried within some brilliant films. So, the idea that he would choose to be in a film like this didn't surprise me at all--I know that categorizing the projects he chose defies common-sense. He simply did what he wanted to do or what made him money when his cash flow was low.

The film starts off during D-Day. A group of laborers conscripted by the Nazis have taken shelter from the bombings in what turns out to be a German supply depot. Soon after, one of the bombs hits--sealing them in at about 100 feet below ground. To make things worse, the walls are seemingly impregnable. But, on the positive side, there are tons and tons of supplies--candles, foods and wine. And, because air inexplicably makes it inside the shelter (which, oddly, the men really did not investigate further for a very long time), they survive there for years AFTER the war has ended. In fact, almost the entirety of the film consists of watching the men coping with these claustrophobic subterranean conditions...and then, slowly dying off one after another!! Then, they continue in darkness for four more dreadful years--thankfully, though, this part is skipped in the film but explained in a super-depressing epilogue. It's supposed to be a true story about perseverance but the story seems completely made up--and I could find nothing on the internet to verify that this story ever actually occurred. Plus, I don't want to see such a story, thank you very much. It was just dreadful, depressing and awful. Sure, the acting was generally pretty good, but that alone is NOT enough reason to watch this film. Life is too short to watch films like this.

By the way, although I said I saw it because of Sellers, he was NOT the entire film--just one of several characters. Those who praise only his performance seem to be forgetting the work of the rest of these very capable actors.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Some extra information about the true story this film is based on...

Author: Sam from United Kingdom
20 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Contains spoilers.

Fantastic performances all round, but god, what a depressing movie. For those who get to the end of this film heartened by the strength of human endeavour as two men survive seven years of total isolation including three years of total darkness, please note that on discovery - the shock of the light killed one instantly, and the lone survivor died three days later. Depressing indeed.

For a really interesting perspective on Seller's appearance and performance in such a bleak movie, I'd like to recommend Roger Lewis' verbose yet illuminating biography "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers". By the time you have finished it you're easily persuaded that seven years solitary is far less than Sellers deserved!

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Peter Sellers' best role.

Author: fishfly from Canada
14 January 2003

A true story about a group of allied P.O.W.s who become accidentally entombed deep underground in an inescapable concrete bunker. The place is stocked with enough food and candles to last the men for years, if necessary. Charles Aznavour is unforgettable as an Italian chess master slowly driven to quiet desperation. A terrifying psychological drama.

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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Bleak House

Author: Bill Slocum ( from Greenwich, CT United States
29 April 2012

A film that seems intended to drive its audience to mass suicide, "The Blockhouse" is more likely to inspire tedium and finally relief when it limps to its unsatisfying conclusion.

The film features seven slave laborers in World War II France who find themselves trapped deep in an underground chamber when their German position is bombed and shelled in preparation for D-Day. There is no escape for these men; they must bide their time eating and drinking from the ample provisions left by the German Army, do their best not to get on each other's nerves, and hope for a miracle.

The film stars Peter Sellers, though he is only a first among equals here and certainly not to be watched for his comic prowess. Playing a teacher named Rouquet, he has a light moment trying to teach dominos to the others, but for the most part stares bleakly at the walls as a heavy beard grows on his face. Sellers is completely convincing in his part, but it is less a character than a construct. Rouquet is the voice of hope whose point in the story is being stilled.

The other main character, and the only one that catches your notice, is Jeremy Kemp's Grabinski, a rational man who realizes before anyone else the hopelessness of the situation but who tries to make things bearable for his comrades. His exchanges with Rouquet playing games reflects the hope/no hope dichotomy.

"I think you'll lose," Grabinski tells Roquet during the dominos demonstration.

"How can you possibly tell I'll lose when I'm teaching you this game?" Roquet replies.

"Never mind," Grabinski shrugs.

The whole movie is like that, unconnected vignettes between the trapped men that strive at some greater purpose without advancing anything resembling a plot. Director/co-writer Clive Rees seems to be trying to go for a Pinder or Beckett thing with the sparse dialogue and hopeless situation. But too much bleakness keeps us distant from the characters and their situation.

As calamities pile up, like the suicide of one of the men and the arrival of winter, it's all you can do to register their pain. You don't have any sense of who these people might be, however good a job Kemp, Sellers, and the other actors do. And they do good work all around, including the legendary French singer Charles Aznavour as a tough scrapper named Visconti and Swedish notable Per Oscarsson as the brooding Lund. With their beards and grimy faces, and their believable, seemingly improvised acting, they pull you into their horrible situation easily enough. But the film lets them down in terms of having anything more to say than life is hell.

Don't be fooled by the 90-minute running time: This is a long movie to sit through, tough to follow with choppy editing that seems to kill off one character twice while two others disappear without explanation. Characters say little to one another, and when they do speak it is often pitched so low one can barely hear it. The visual design leans heavily on the dark surroundings to the point where the only print available today screens like an oil spill.

This is a movie I wouldn't watch once if it wasn't for Sellers, and can't recommend even to his fans. If you like bleak movies, you may feel otherwise, but whatever your mindset I doubt you will have any more success figuring out what is happening than I did.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Before its time and due a DVD release

Author: imdb-3550 from East Peckham, England
27 April 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Having been fascinated with the life or Peter Sellers since the late seventies I had been on the look out for this film appearing on TV without luck.Recently I have been lucky enough to obtain a copy of the 1984 USA release video which whilst rather old held out long enough to appreciate that this is one very underrated film. The cast is full of familiar faces but Sellers performance is nothing short of brilliance and you really begin to feel the depth of dispair that the characters (and the actors apparently) must have felt in this true life story.

Imagine spending the last six years of your life underground - Now consider spending four years of those years in total, complete darkness.

Had this film been released now in the 21st Century it would have surely have received the appreciation it truly deserved.

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