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The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968)

PG-13 | | Drama, History, War | 11 October 1968 (USA)
In 1854, during the Crimean War, poor planning leads to a British Light Brigade openly charging a Russian artillery position with tragic consequences.

Director:

Tony Richardson

Writers:

Charles Wood (screenplay), Cecil Woodham-Smith (additional source material "The Reason Why") (as Cecil Woodham Smith)
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Nominated for 6 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Trevor Howard ... Lord Cardigan
Vanessa Redgrave ... Clarissa Morris
John Gielgud ... Lord Raglan
Harry Andrews ... Lord Lucan
Jill Bennett ... Mrs. Duberly
David Hemmings ... Capt. Lewis Nolan
Ben Aris Ben Aris ... Lt. Maxse
Micky Baker Micky Baker ... Trooper Metcalfe
Peter Bowles ... Paymaster Capt. Duberly
Leo Britt Leo Britt ... Gen. Scarlett
Mark Burns ... Caplt. Morris
John J. Carney ... Trooper Mitchell (as John Carney)
Helen Cherry ... Lady Scarlett
Christopher Chittell ... Trooper
Ambrose Coghill Ambrose Coghill ... Lt. Col. Douglas
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Storyline

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 matt-282

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

"Theirs not to reason why..."

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Tony Richardson was a notoriously difficult director. At one point 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 and historical adviser, Boris Mollo, threatened to resign. See more »

Goofs

When Cardigan is berating Nolan about his Indian servant, Cardigan can be heard saying, "You and your black rogue," while clearly mouthing something different. See more »

Quotes

Lord Raglan: Young ladies should concern themselves with what is pretty. England is pretty... babies are pretty... some table linen can be very pretty...
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Crazy Credits

Closing credits roll over a drawing of a dead horse, with the buzzing of flies in the soundtrack. See more »

Alternate Versions

The American release version (MGM/UA Region 1 DVD) is missing six minutes 45 seconds' worth of material present in the UK VHS tape released in 1992. The latter has a running time (adjusted to 24fps) of about 136 mins compared to the DVD which runs about 130 mins. Three sections are affected: Clarissa's wedding reception; a church service; and three consecutive scenes in the Crimea, involving a sentry failing to identify Lord Raglan at night and shooting at him, piercing his hat; the sentry being flogged but earning a reward from Lord Cardigan for his bravery; and Captains Nolan and Morris eating the breakfasts of several enlisted men while out riding. The British tape is itself missing seven seconds of footage cut by the censor (shots of trip-wired horses during the charge) and is still short of the original running times of 138 minutes 40 seconds as registered by the British Board of Film Censors in 1968, 141 minutes as listed in most reference sources, and 145 minutes as reviewed by Variety. See more »


Soundtracks

The Girl I Left Behind Me
(uncredited)
Traditional
Arranged by Trevor L. Sharpe
Heard before the Battle of the Alma
See more »

User Reviews

Superb period details
3 November 2004 | by vaughan-birbeckSee all my reviews

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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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | French | Russian

Release Date:

11 October 1968 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Charge of the Light Brigade See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$8,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (theatrical)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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