Arnhem - A Bridge Too Far (DVD)

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Arnhem - A Bridge Too Far (DVD)

Documentaries & Biographies - Original Language: English - Classification: Exempt - Studio: SIMPLY MEDIA, GEM LOGISTICS

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Review of "Arnhem - A Bridge Too Far (DVD)"

published 18/04/2001 | dadmancat
Member since : 27/07/2000
Reviews : 170
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Pro Grim, gritty, well acted and directed, an epic production
Cons maybe overlong for some
very helpful
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"Dutch Courage"

An epic production, with a stellar cast, a director at the height of his powers, production values befitting the project and a crew of wonderful technicians, well, they all combine to give a very sobre retelling of Operation Market Garden.

Based on Cornelius Ryan's monstrous book of the same name, it chronicles the Allied forces attempts to take 5 bridges in Holland that will allow them to cut off any remaining German lines of supply whilst opening the gate to race on towards Berlin.

An international operation, take note America, contrary to recent other film opinions you did not win the second World War single handedly, and the English aren't the bad guys. Montgomery's plan was to drop, by air, a huge force of soldiers and artillery behind enemy lines and have them advance at lightning speed to capture the bridges which early intelligence believed were held by understrength, and underexperienced, German Units - the dregs left over from the retreat from France. Unfortunately, the German retreat had halted and far more experienced and powerful units were left in the arena of Arnhem, most devastatingly Bittrich's Panzer division.

Often maligned for being overlong, the film does have an enormous amount of storytelling to do, focusing on many many units, both Allied and German, and the parts that they played in 'Market Garden'. Certainly we have to contend with a huge number of characters and information, but for me it makes it all the more compelling, seeing the vast amount of manpower that goes into an operation likes this, and what happens when communications break down and disaster ensues.

The Allies were up against it immediately, drop zones were an uncomfortable distance from their targets, some zones were too soft and many gliders were lost, wrecking jeeps and artillery. Radios refused to work and the units found themselves cut off from each other and operating alone. German resistance was far stiffer then imagined, and eventually after the capture of 4 bridges, the Allies were forced to retreat after huge losses.

This is no gung-ho war film, it is based on real events, and therefore there is little time for heroics or machismo, a frightening look at how combat is and how battles are won and lost. Attenborough directs wonderfully, a documentary like feel keeping you engaged in what is a very literate retelling of the Operation. Often wordy, but never dull, the action sequences are well handled with lots of machinery on display. This is a huge production and it is impossible not to feel like you are witnessing events first hand thanks to the marvellous production design and effects work which pitches you right into the 'action', for want of a better word. The destruction of Arnhem is heart breaking and entirely convincing, as we see the 2nd Parachute Battalion attempt to hold onto the last bridge, Arnhem Bridge. Civilians are part of the carnage, and no-one is spared, as ruthless in it's depiction of war as the far more saccharine 'Saving Private Ryan'.

The cast list is awesome, and all perform wonders with the exception of a floundering Ryan O'Neal and an outrageously accented Gene Hackman as the Polish Maj. Gen. Sosabowski, who was forced to lead his troops into a no-win dropzone.

Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Laurence Olivier, Dirk Bogarde, Edward Fox, Anthony Hopkins, James Caan, Robert Redford, Elliot Gould, the cast list goes on, the Germans are well represented too with Hardy Kruger and Maximillian Schell amongst others. It makes a refreshing change to see the Germans dealt with sincerely, and appropriately, not as the movies prefer to portray them as crazed gun toting maniacs. This film shows both sides with equal dignity and respect and puts the flag waving epics of Hollywood to shame. We see all the forces involved, and no-one is more heroic than the next, I shouldn't think Attenborough once considered relegating the other international forces to the side lines.

Special note too for David Addison's great score, which succeeds in being as emotional as the film, I thoroughly recommend hunting down the rather nicely packaged CD reissue.

It looks great in it's original ratio, and my advice would be to settle for the widescreen video version of this great film. The dvd is quite a dirty affair, lots of speckling and noise, and with no extras to shout about.

A neglected gem, often criticised for it's length and grim outlook, but I would never ever want it to leave my film collection.

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Comments on this review

  • Pinotage published 18/04/2001
    Good op - you're spot on about the recognition the film offers to the participants, and don't forget about the Dutch civilians caught up in the carnage who were so brave and sacrificed so much.
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Product Information : Arnhem - A Bridge Too Far (DVD)

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Documentaries & Biographies - Original Language: English - Classification: Exempt - Studio: SIMPLY MEDIA, GEM LOGISTICS


Listed on Ciao since: 18/04/2001