|Index||2 reviews in total|
This film is much better than the quaint oddity which one might expect.
Directorially it is a masterpiece of economical story-telling. In its 12 minutes there are only 28 scenes, each of which is a single continuous take. In 27 of them the camera is static - no zooms, no tracking shots, no cuts to close-up, etc. In only one scene does the camera pan, and that is to follow the charging cavalry. The shot is made all the more effective by the absence of camera movement elsewhere.
More than half a century before the Tony Richardson 1968 film, the writer of this version came up with the idea of establishing a cosy domestic relationship between Captains Nolan and Morris at home in Britain before their Crimean service. This is not an obvious idea, and is not based on any contemporary account. One wonders if Richardson saw this film before making his own.
The action sequences are lavishly staged. It is said that 800 troopers of the US Cavalry took part, and there are scenes in which that many appear to be engaged at once.
The film is available as an extra on the DVD of the British Film Institute edition of the 1968 movie. The visual quality of the film is very good for its age - an excellent job of restoration. It is scratched, but not at all faded.
I started watching this movie thinking it would be a fairly typical
one-reeler of the time, shot on the cheap, with a few perfunctory
action scenes, a lot of smoke, some horses running around, and that
would be pretty much it. I couldn't have been more wrong. This is an
extremely impressive little film, and while I might not call it the
"masterpiece" that the previous reviewer did, I do have to say that I
was very, very pleasantly surprised by what I saw. This film is in no
way, shape or form "cheap"--the producers put a lot of money into this
little epic, with hundreds of extras and horses, elaborate (and
apparently period-correct) costumes and equipment, batteries of cannons
and exciting battle scenes. For an action picture the acting is
actually rather subdued, as opposed to the often over-the-top ham that
was common in pictures of the time, especially D.W. Griffith's. It had
almost a documentary feel to it that I found quite effective.
I had heard of director J. Searle Dawley but, as far as I know, have never seen any of his films. Based on what I've seen in his work here, I've been missing out on a lot. I'll have to start looking out more for his pictures.
|Plot summary||Ratings||Main details|
|Your user reviews||Your vote history|