In the Sudan, in 1884 to 1885, Egyptian forces led by British General Charles "Chinese" Gordon (Charlton Heston) defend Khartoum against an invading Muslim Army led by a religious fanatic, Mohammed Ahmed el Mahdi (Sir Laurence Olivier).
In 1949, during the Chinese Civil War, British warship H.M.S. Amethyst sails up the Yangtse river but on the return trip finds its way blocked by a barrage fire from the Communist Chinese shore batteries.
In a French village, Manou is an Italian logger, virile, with a broad laugh. He can't say no to women's sexual invitations, and jealous villagers blame him for recent fires and a flood. He ... See full summary »
Anachronistic strict Regimental Sergeant Major Lauderdale (Sir Richard Attenborough), on a remote colonial African army caught in a local coup d'etat, must use his experience to defend those in his care.
After World War II, a Highland Regiment's acting Commanding Officer, who rose from the ranks, is replaced by a peace-time Oxford-educated Commanding Officer, leading to a dramatic conflict between the two.
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
Following the Sergeant Major's flogging, when Nolan, Cardigan, & the other officers are walking beneath the breezeway, a modern overhead electric lamp and its outdoor cord covers are clearly visible overhead. See more »
Maj. Gen. Sir John Campbell:
[to the Highland Cavalry]
Whoever is wounded, lie where he is until a bandsman comes to him. No soldier may go off carrying wounded men. If any man does such a thing, his name shall be stuck up in his parish church. Come! Advance!
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Closing credits roll over a drawing of a dead horse, with the buzzing of flies in the soundtrack. See more »
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 »
This movie was made in 1968 but I never got the impression from watching it that it was anti war. The movie was made entirely with British actors and a British director and the Brits never had an antiwar movement (because their government gave up its militarism after Suez in 1955). The movie depicts the British army as it existed in 1850. This was a period when one gained advancement in the army by money or title. It was a largely decadent and unprofessional army and the movie I think characterizes it rather well. In fact, Nolan wrote a book complaining about the need to professionalize the army but it took the near disastrous Crimean War to affect any serious changes (it too the British Navy another generation or more to make similar changes). At the time, there was a debate about the effectiveness of cavalry with some believing that no defensive position could withstand the full force of a disciplined cavalry charge--a left over from the Napoleonic Wars--while others thought a charge into artillery was near suicidal. Nolan's roll in the battle remains controversial and whether he delivered inaccurate verbal orders to Acrdigan to charge to prove the effectiveness of cavalry even against artillery or warn the brigade away has not been established because Nolan was killed.
As for the Crimean War, it also depicts the drum beat to war accurately and the implication that most of the dying was done by commoners and much of the death was caused by disease. It was an ugly war. What isn't shown is that the condition of the Russian army was far worse. The poor Russian peasant soldiers were sent to fight with smoothbore Napeolonic Era muskets with an effective range of perhaps 100 meters while the British and the French was new rifled muskets with a range of over 300 meters. In some battles very small forces of British held off huge numbers of Russians killing hundreds.
The Battle of Balaclave is generally depicted accurately. It was a calamity of errors. Capt Nolan actually lost his head during the charge and witnesses indicate that his horse continued running with corpse in the saddle for some distance before the body collapsed. The charge was initiated by the heavy Brigade led by Lord Lucan. There was a rivalry between Lucan and Lord Cardigan (brothers in law) and both brigades initially made the charge but the Heavies did not enter the Valley of Death. The Light Brigade continued into the Valley and were decimated but not wiped out. In fact they were supported by the French cavalry the Chasseurs d'Afrique and the Russian positions were in fact overrun. I think the charge as depicted in this movie is one of the most exciting I have ever seen captured in the cinema.
The so called Valley of Death has changed considerably since the 1850s. By 1994, it was entirely planted in vineyards and the only way to gain some sense of the battle is to find the famous Tractir Bridge over the Tchernaya River and follow the lines of hills. As for the town of Balaclava...I have a photograph of the town in 1854 with the British fleet anchored in the harbor. I took a photograph of this village in 1994 from just about the same angle as the 1854 image and then compared the two. The place is completely unchanged with even the stone buildings remaining. Of course, the village today is the base of the Ukranian Black Sea fleet and there is a not so secret submarine base cared into the limestone cliffs inside the harbor.
We may think that the Crimean War is ancient history but the people of Crimea do not. They have sort of a living museum called the Panaorma. This is a museum devoted to the siege of Sevastopol. There is a circular path and the visitor is engulfed by the on going battles on both sides of the path. One may wander the hills above Sevastopol and many of the rifle pits and trenches from the war remain (they were reused by the Russians during the unsuccessful defense of the city in 1942). It is a wonderful museum and it exemplifies the Russian attitude that history is alive and they don't forget their past.
This is a historically accurate movie. It moves a little slow at times and it has some amusing cartoonish graphics (almost reminiscent of Monty Python graphics). All the major players obviously have a great deal of fun with their rolls.
Anecdotes: Tony Richardson's two children, Nastasha and Joely are in the film as well is his sister in law Vanessa Redgrave. I think I have these relationships correct. Anyway, they are all related.
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