The true story of Operation Market Garden, the Allies attempt, in September 1944, to hasten the end of World War II by driving through Belgium and Holland into Germany. The idea was for U.S. airborne divisions to take the towns of Eindhoven and Nijmegen and a British airborne division, reinforced by a Polish airborne brigade, to take the town of Arnhem. They would be reinforced, in due course and in turn, by the British XXX Corps, land-based and driving up from the British lines in the south. The key to the operation was the bridges, as if the Germans held or blew them, the paratroopers could not be relieved. Faulty intelligence, Allied high command hubris, and stubborn German resistance would ensure that Arnhem was a bridge too far.Written by
The producers were only able to locate four of the many Sherman tanks seen on the screen. The rest were plastic molds set on top of 88" Land Rovers. Volkswagen Beetle chassis were used for German Kubelwagens. The tank treads didn't reach the ground, but the movie is edited so that this isn't noticeable (except in the section after Elliott Gould cries, "Roll the fuckers!") there are shots of the tanks rolling over the bridge. One tank is seen silhouetted against the background and its tracks are clearly not moving as fast as they should be if the tank were real). At about fifty-seven minutes into this movie, as the Shermans are heading up the road, the last Sherman seen (the fifth one) is floating a few inches off the ground. If you look quickly, you'll just see the rear left wheel from one of the Land Rovers. See more »
During shots of Nijmegen, the tower of the Sint Stevenschurch is standing tall. In fact the tower was destroyed by an American bombing off Nijmegen in February 1944. It was not put back on the church until the late sixties. The opening of the renewed tower was in 1969. See more »
German theatrical version was edited (violence and dialogue) by ca. 12,5 minutes to secure a "Not under 12" rating (an additional scene was removed in the TV version). This version was used for all home video releases before DVD. For the DVD release in 2003 MGM put back all the scenes cut for violence but not the dialogue scenes, which were not dubbed in 1977. See more »
I applaud Attenborough for having made this movie. What a headache its filming must have been. It's accurate in a sense both material and overall.
His P 47s may be mock ups, but he used genuine World-War-II era M-4 "Sherman" tanks. (God knows how he managed to muster them.) I can't vouch for the German tank -- there is only one shown on screen and it could pass for a Panther. I also admire him for having the daring to make a movie about an unmitigated Allied defeat. As a whole, movies in this genre depict a victory on the part of the nations producing the movie in the first place.
"The Enemy Below," "Zulu," "Torpedo Bay," "Die Brucke," just to give American, British, Italian, and German examples. The list goes on. About the only time we're permitted to witness defeats for "our side" is during a heroic last stand against overwhelming odds ("Bataan") or when the defeat is the result of dirty pool ("Pearl Harbor"). But here, with no excuses, Attenborough delivers a different message entirely.
The performances are as good as can be expected from actors who have so little time to develop their characters. The battle scenes are realistic enough, without their shoving our noses into spilled intestines.
Attenborough is not a splashy director but he has a couple of things go on that are worth noticing. The Dutch citizens who first greet the Allied troops joyfully as liberators wind up being slaughtered and their cities destroyed by the war that is thrust on them. Civilian suffering tends to get short shrift unless one of them is Sofia Loren or somebody. Another worthwhile touch, a small one. The British politely take over one of those large super-scrubbed middle-class Dutch homes as a hospital -- "just for the slightly wounded, Ma'am." And as the first soldiers enter they step over two kids playing with a toy train on a thick creamy rug -- and a few drops of blood sprinkle the carpet.
Two other observations. "The Longest Day" is sometimes compared unfavorably to this film for a number of reasons, many of them justified. But "The Longest Day" was made under restrictions that had been lifted by the time this movie was produced. Zanuck wanted to show more of the slaughter at Omaha Beach but was prevented from doing so. He was similarly prevented by prevailing folkways from showing Allied troops as more brutal. And he originally filmed the closing scene of the movie not with a triumphant parade of victorious infantrymen marching up the slopes to a peppy military tune but with an forlorn, exhausted, empty grunt, sitting at the water's edge and listlessly tossing pebbles into the waves. The scene had to be deleted. A bothersome thing about "A Bridge Too Far" is that, at least as I've seen it on TV, I can't easily tell who is where. In Ryan's book it's easy enough to follow events and characters but, as edited, this movie is pretty confusing. When five of the major actors all show up together on a balcony, it came as a big surprise. I thought Connery and one or two of the others were still trapped behind German lines! I don't know whether this confusion is due to poor editing or a ministroke.
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