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88 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential DVD release
At last - a most eagerly awaited DVD release, and it's no disappointment. The packaging, menus, and print quality are all top notch. Extras are limited to a 45 minute documentary (helpfully divided into three parts) and director's commentary - I believe it's only Lord Attenborough's first.

The print is simply wonderful - widescreen never looked better, and it's...
Published on 4 Nov 2006 by Mr. R. Jordan

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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Oh what a lovely send up
Never spoof a spoof is an old cinematic adage - yet Richard Attenborough's directorial debut is not only a spoof of a spoof of a fake, but also perhaps his most daring and artistic production, even ahead of Shadowlands. Unfortunately, he should have listened more carefully to that adage. Adapted from a stage play based on Alan Clark's 1961 "history" of generalship in the...
Published 23 months ago by saisynaber


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88 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential DVD release, 4 Nov 2006
By 
Mr. R. Jordan (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
At last - a most eagerly awaited DVD release, and it's no disappointment. The packaging, menus, and print quality are all top notch. Extras are limited to a 45 minute documentary (helpfully divided into three parts) and director's commentary - I believe it's only Lord Attenborough's first.

The print is simply wonderful - widescreen never looked better, and it's far more bright and clean than anyone will have seen for years. It has be one of the highest quality pictures I have seen for a long time.

As a film experience, it has everything to recommend it - all those huge stars, the beautiful cinematography, and those remarkably touching (and witty) songs. You could say this is a musical for people who normally don't watch musicals, because these are all authentic WW1 songs, popular, sacred and profane.

The whole film is dotted with poignant moments, but the definitive one is right at the end, and truly breathtaking. Especially when you learn that it was filmed for real! A real pleasure to own this reinstated masterpiece.
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129 of 134 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll never see a better war film, 11 Nov 2008
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This review is from: Oh! What a Lovely War: The Special Collector's Edition [DVD] [1969] (DVD)
I'm bemused by the tendency to assert that this film is a veiled Vietnam film, "ostensibly" about another war, as this Amazon review puts it. It IS about another war, one that was far more important to the nation where it was written and filmed, and in which the father of writer and director Charles Chilton was killed. Anyway, I watched it as a First World War film, and that is how it has always seemed to me: it comments on all other wars, implicitly, of course.

It's silly to compare or measure this against most other war films, because it is so unlike any other, but it stands out as a dramatic, cinematic, narrative gem. A serious musical about the horrors of war: sounds as likely as a serious musical about living in Nazi Germany. Oh, wait...someone did that too. Cabaret must owe quite a bit to this film, not least in the "tomorrow belongs to me" scene, although they wrote their songs from scratch for Cabaret.

The songs here are real, some the official versions from popular music hall, and some the unofficial versions sung by the troops, with considerably darker lyrics (though they omitted the rudest of the unofficial lyrics). The humour is black and dry as a tomb, and you don't quite know whether to laugh or wince in a lot of places (just do both). But the real beauty of the film is in the settings, which are sparse, only partly realistic, and sometimes subject to extraordinary changes. The most impressive are slow 360 degree pans, during which everything changes behind the camera's back, so that when you get back the character you started with, they are in a completely different situation. These and other rapid scene shifts are part of whole film's unreal, nightmarish quality that matches the subject matter perfectly.

If you haven't seen it, make sure you do. If you saw it long ago and dimly remember it and wonder if it was as good as you remember (or maybe better than you thought), I'd say yes, and you should refresh your acquaintance. This seems an almost absurdly cheap price for it.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh, oh, oh what a magnificent film, 31 Oct 2006
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I just completed watching this film for the first time in at least 30 years. In a word this is a magnificent piece of cinema, one of the best 100, possibly best 10 films ever made. The basis of the film is the use of popular songs from the first world war to present the history.

I've seen Oh What A Lovely war as a stage play and I have to say that this film is one of the most imaginative transfers to screen I have ever seen. The film uses the highly original technique of blending theatre with live action, often cutting immediately from one to the other to create tremendous visual impact. The use of music hall and popular songs as a backdrop to the events creates a tremendous impact, as for example, when we watch one of the main characters live out his last moments in a field hospital while a beautiful rendition of "Keep The Home Fires Burning" plays in the background.

The real genius of the film is that after 138 minutes you feel as though you have been through 4 years of war. There is a real feeling of the passage of time as well as the passage of an era from the innocence of 1914 to the brutality of 1918.

This was Richard Attenborough's first attempt as a director and I have say probably his best. Apart from enrolling the leading British theatrical talent of the day (John Mills, Larry Oilivier, Dirk Bogarde, John Gieldgud, Jack Hawkinsand so on) he also chose complete unknowns for the parts of the soldiers, thereby underlining how it was the common man who bore the brunt of the war.

John Mills in particular turns in an outstanding performance as Field Marshall Haig. Maggie Smith also turns in a stunning cameo as a music hall songstress using her feminine wiles to encourage men to join up on stage.

The poignancy of this film is that the songs, the events and even the statements of the main characters are all historically accurate and it reminds us that nationalism can be used as an unscrupulous tool by the political elite. Sadly, the lessons of this film are as relevant today as they were when it was made 30 years ago. An education as well as an outstanding piece of filmatic entertainment.
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105 of 110 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AT LAST !!!!!!!!!!!, 20 Aug 2006
By 
Steve (Leeds) - See all my reviews
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Well, I can't review the DVD as it's not released yet, but firstly thank God to whoever managed to finally overcome whatever obstacles were in its way. A 1969 film finally makes it to DVD in 2006...

And what a film. It struck me that many people will never have even seen this masterpiece (and there are very few films I would call that) before. For those who haven't, be aware that the title is ironic. This movie shows how most of Europe, then other continents, were drawn into the carnage of World War 1 by old alliances. And then, how the slaughter went on, and on... But also be aware that it's a musical, where the musical numbers comment on the madness of the war, and underline the black humour necessary to keep everyone going. Songs like 'When This Lousy War is Over', 'Good-bye-ee' and 'We Don't Want to Lose You ( but think you ought to go)' stick in the mind long after seeing the film.

The cast is like a Who's Who of British acting: John Gielgud, John Mills, Kenneth More, Vanessa Redgrave, Jack Hawkins, Dirk Bogarde.... Much of the film was made on location in, and near, Brighton; the famous pier is used to great effect, as, amongst other things, the control centre for the British generals. In one memorable scene the ever-growing casualty figures are displayed in enormous numbers whilst Field Marshall Haig (John Mills) decides to send yet more men over the top. In fact the film is arguably more a series of set pieces than a running narrative.

And that incredible final shot!!! What a treat for those who haven't seen the film before. I saw this on first release in 1969 at the Lounge Cinema, Headingley, Leeds, and can still remember watching as the entire screen filled with...ahh, wait and see.

For me, this is the most anticipated DVD ever; I just hope that loving care has been taken over the transfer of this, one of the most extraordinary films of all time.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh! What a Lovely War, 28 Oct 2006
By 
Helen Carter - See all my reviews
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This is a long overdue release of a classic anti-war film. Although the serious student of military history will have long moved on from the iniquitous 'Lions led by donkeys' view of the Great War, this film does show the disconnection between the jingoist home front and the reality of the front line. Particularly effective is the scene in the ruined church with the nurses singing 'The churches' one foundation' and the soldiers singing their own lyrics. The final scene is particularly touching.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps Richard Attenborough's Finest Film, 6 Feb 2009
By 
Clifford (Weymouth, Dorset, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Oh! What a Lovely War: The Special Collector's Edition [DVD] [1969] (DVD)
It is particularly difficult to categorise this film. Yes, it's a film about war, the pity of war, the pity war distils, but it manages to avoid the vainglory and the heroic thrill that almost always categorises war movies. Even the impulse to anger at the waste of war, and the stupidity of humankind is effectively suppressed in the representation of pity that is poetically evolved here. The film doesn't even fit well into the `musicals' category, as it uses music, in the form of songs popular during WWI as tokens of the irrepressibility of the human spirit, rather than for their musical essence. Many showings on TV are edited for length, reducing its impact, but this is the real deal. It even passes muster in its history of the complex inevitability of the war and of its mindless waste of life. And it does this using a densely glowing aurora of famous acting stars: Redgrave, Gielgud, Richardson, Olivier, Hawkins, More. It's funny and it's heartbreakingly sad at the same time, and it's beautifully photographed, with a final scene that brings tears to many eyes. This film is to movies what Wilfred Owen is to Poetry. It speaks for itself.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary film, undiminished by the passage of time, 11 Nov 2006
By 
R. Mann "Rachel Mann" (Manchester) - See all my reviews
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This remains one of the oddest, most moving and powerful '(anti-)war' films in cinematic history. Yes, it's take on World War One is deeply flawed, but its understanding of the ironic nature of war - and the Great War in particular - is acute. Particularly poignant is its focus on the sardonic, bleak nature of soldiers' humour. As one character sings, 'old soldiers never die, the young ones wish they would'. Whilst the film can be accused of being both crude and arch in places, it builds to a devastating climax which is shattering in its simplicity. In short, it is an extraordinary tribute to the men and women, like my grandparents, whose lives were redefined by a now ancient war - a war whose implications continue to echo through society to this day.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best film of it's kind you'll ever see, 16 Nov 2006
By 
A. Richards (Gosport, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is quite simply a brilliant film. I have been fortunate to perform in a rendition of the play this film is based upon, and this is a version that, while not entirly faithful to the original, captures the feeling of it to the last. I thoroughly recommend this to anyone, whether they like musicals or not, and be prepared with the tissues. Some of the songs in this are haunting beyond words, and I'm sure I'll remember them for a long time.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars War musicals, 10 Oct 2009
By 
Oldjazzman (Cambridge, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Oh! What a Lovely War: The Special Collector's Edition [DVD] [1969] (DVD)
This is a first-class reminder of how wars start - (shot in whimsical settings largely upon Brighton Pier) - and how they grind quickly into stalemate as our leaders, both military and political, find themselves presented with problems beyond their competence to solve. Brilliantly incorporating the sad and appropriate corruption of words of hymns and popular songs of the period, this is a colouful yet potent reminder of the horrors of 'dying for one's country'. Excellent film-making by Attenborough.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still very relevant after 40 years, 18 Mar 2009
By 
Duncan (Nottingham, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Oh! What a Lovely War: The Special Collector's Edition [DVD] [1969] (DVD)
Having watched this DVD shortly after seeing a revival of Joan Littlewood's stage version at the Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield, I can honestly say that despite hearing from some that it is 'dated' and 'of its (Vietnam war era) time, it still seems as fresh as ever. This is because OWALW is essentially a satire of the attitudes to war and how these change and develop as the conflict goes on - which seem to follow a similar pattern across time. So we get to see the political muddle and confusion that sows the seeds to World War I, the patriotic 'King and Country' reaction to the declaration of war and then the brutal reality and consequences of all this. All this is seen through a series of vividly realised musical vignettes, featuring authentic popular music from 1914-18.

Of course, not everyone will agree on the straight [simplistic]anti-war stance of the film, and it can also be criticised for being a little overlong and repetative, as one musical number gives way to another. But this is a powerful, close to unique film, which is both thought provoking and entertaining.
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