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The original cut, screened at Cannes, ran over three hours. See more »
In one scene, a closeup of a digital watch is used to indicate the time. Digital watches were invented 25 years later. See more »
[opening title card]
This is not a documentary of the war in Korea but a dramatized study of the effect of war on a group of people. Where dramatic license has been deemed necessary, the authors have taken advantage of this license to dramatize the subject.
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I never got to see this movie in a theatrical release; I got to see the first part of it cut up for cable TV -- on a cable channel not known for movies. I wanted, honestly, to see a reverential treatment of the UN side of the Korean War, a war whose importance is now greatly underrecognized, and especially of one of the key battles in history. The war was, after all, the first in which the commies did not succeed in turning over a domino, so to speak.
The movie got off to a bad start with one of the actors (Ben Gazzara) launching into a long narrative monologue about the father of General MacArthur while on an airline flight. First of all, General Douglas MacArthur is the key figure of the movie, and his father was already long dead and irrelevant to the plot. Second, the long-winded monologue is not ordinary conversation of the type that one would expect between airline passengers! With the possible exception of university professors who can't be fired and dictators who can't be criticized, nobody gets away with such long-winded, irrelevant, narrative monologues in normal life.
Absurdities pile upon absurdities, and irrelevancies pile upon irrelevancies. Soldiers synchronize watches whose second hands aren't moving, and one gets a closeup of such an action. If you are going to show a close-up of any action, then make it real. Maudlin events at an orphanage take up much footage. Well, the Korean War was a carnage for civilians of all types, wasn't it? Soldiers taking Inchon fail to show fear -- and I can't imagine anyone going behind enemy lines not being scared out of his wits unless a psycho. Taking the lighthouse at Inchon, soldiers notice that the lighting and lens assembly was made in France (anyone who knows anything about lighthouses == and I live in a state that has lots of them -- knows that the lighthouse mechanisms and lenses from about a century ago all came from France).
The best movie about the Korean War remains MASH, and it centers upon support units. The brilliant invasion of central Korea at Inchon deserves far better treatment than this quicksand.
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