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3.5 out of 5 stars72
3.5 out of 5 stars
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on 4 November 2008
A truly superb film, but this still isn't the full version and is the same cut as the inexcusable BFI release. The full version (a different cut) has been shown on several occasions by BBC2 so why could this not be sourced for the DVD?
Missing, is an extension of the early wedding scene losing a metaphorical song: "Gaily goes the ship when the wind blows fair' and a later night scene where Raglan is almost shot by a picket.
Greatest loss though, is the scene where Nolan and Morris thoughtlessly rob three NCO's of their breakfasts, particularly Norman Rossington's character who has previously suffered a flogging and demotion out of loyalty to Nolan.
This was a major film in its day and I recall much publicity and a 'making of' feature, so why can't MGM put out a full version including commentaries by surviving members of the production?
If ever a classic film deserved a special edition its this one.
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on 4 August 2004
I would have given this 5 stars, had it not been for the fact that this film has been quite severely cut, with various scenes edited out from the original cinema release. This was presumably done to include the extra 28 minutes of 'extras' such as the irrelevant 1912 featurette. This is a great shame, as this film should have been shown in its entirety as it is a film deserving of recognition. A missed opportunity
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on 19 May 2009
......... I have now acquired two versions of this brilliant film only to be disappointed by the senseless cutting ........ again in this version the wedding scene between Clarissa (Vanessa Redgrave) and William Morris (Mark Burns) has been cut to the bearest intention and fails dismally in projecting the viewer into the cultural glimpse of Victorian England and the comradery and 'glue' of the Regimental social structure as depicted in the original Richardson ........ where paymaster Duberly (Peter Bowles) plays the piano mounted on a hay rick ... CUT ........ the picket scene where Raglan (Sir John Geilgud) has is hat shot through is vital for establishing the charatcter of Raglan and enlightening the viewer about the social structure of the Victorian officer corps and the anomolies of command by placing inept officers by recommendation of family and title rather than by (h)ability (Mog- Alan Dobie) ....... CUT .......the scene where Nolan(David Hemmings) and Morris (Mark Burns) are out riding beyond the Allied piquet lines and come across three troopers cooking breakfast, among them trooper Corbett of the 17th Lancers, nee Sergeant Major 11th Hussars (Norman Rossington) flogged, broken and disgraced by the unscrupulous Cardigan (Trevor Howard) when he refused to spy on Nolan at Cardigans order and made Cardigans intention known to Nolan ..... now has his breakfast pinched by Nolan and Morris ...... adding injury to insult !!! ...... important in establishing the general disregard of the enlisted man's sensibilites by the officer class at this time ... interestingly dressed as comradery .. CUT ... the second flogging scene where the trooper (Credit unknown)found asleep on Guard Duty is flogged ........ this scene is vital in enhancing this mans character (as well as that of Cardigans) when later we are shown his inability to accept the death of his horse after the charge ....... by willing the animal to rise again ...... a vital illustration of the sinewy tough character of the men who actually charged .. CUT ...

.......... please oh please will somebody release this marvellous film in its entirety !!!! ????????? ........... with all the aformentioned wounds dressed and restored to visual health !!!!!!!!!

Phillip Flockhart May 2009
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"They will not fight unless they are flogged to it. Would you ask that of them? Would you ask they fight like fiends of Hell for money? Or h'ideas? That would be unchristian."

The Charge of the Light Brigade is one of those films that disappointed me on a first viewing (like many, I was expecting an epic adventure film) but which I love more each time I see it.

Charles Wood's delicious use of language makes the dialog a joy to listen to, and for the most part the performances do it justice - not just the likes of Trevor Howard, Harry Andrews and John Gielgud's delightfully vague Lord Raglan, but also the smaller roles like Norman Rossington's broken Sergeant and Alan Dobie's impoverished officer Mogg, who makes up in jovial and ignorant arrogance what he lacks in wit. It's an astonishingly ambitious film, and for the most part succeeds, painting a portrait not just of a time and place but a whole state of mind - it's not just the bungles of the Crimean War and the casual cruelty of the army in Richardson's sights but the blind stupidity of Britain's entire Victorian class system.

The film is even brave enough to have its nominal hero, David Hemmings' Captain Nolan, be as inadvertently unsympathetic as the superiors he rails against - he might seem more enlightened, but he'll still thoughtlessly finish off his men's breakfast (in one of several scenes cut for this DVD) or push away a wounded soldier. As careless with his men as Raglan is, you can see his point when he dreads the day when professional soldiers like Nolan will run a modern army - "It will be a sad day for England when her armies are led by men who know too well what they are doing- it smacks of murder."

Perhaps it's that lack of someone to root for that helped kill the film at the box-office (along with Richardson's refusal to have press screenings because he felt critics were not intelligent enough to appreciate the film), but I'd still love to see the four-hour rough cut footage emerge from its prison in the BFI's vaults some day. Several stills exist of deleted scenes (such as Cardigan's encounter with Russian troops on his return from the charge: they let him go in respect of his rank in reality) and although his part as a Russian Prince was otherwise completely cut, Laurence Harvey can still be briefly glimpsed in the theatre scene (along with Donald Wolfit playing MacBeth).

What gaps were left by the cuts and budget restrictions (not that the film isn't genuinely spectacular) are admirably filled in by Richard Williams stunningly imaginative and witty animation - old woodcut prints come to life as the British lion puts on his policeman's helmet to stop Russia assaulting Turkey - and John Addison's magnificent score. Amazingly, the pity of it all is not lost under the wit, with the starkest of endings as the generals argue over whose fault it is while flies buzz around dead horses. A truly great film.

Sadly, this has not a great DVD release anywhere.

The transfer on MGM/UA's Region 1 NTSC DVD is for the most part fine, but the animation sequences and the all but unreadable credits do suffer. What really disappoints is the fact that, like the previous laserdisc issue, this is a heavily cut version missing some 6-7 minutes. The ommission of Vanessa Redgrave's horrendous singing may be a merciful release, but the ommission of a reel from the Crimea scenes (including the flogging scene of a sentry who inadvertently shot at Raglan and Cardigan subsequently rewarding the flogged man for his bravery) are definitely not. The only extra is a trailer.

Sadly, despite releasing a video of the longer version (minus a few seconds of vicious horsefalls), the BFI's R2 PAL DVD is the same cut version, albeit with slightly better extras (an interview with Richard Williams, original trailer and a silent version of the Charge). Even more sadly, Optimum's UK DVD is probably the worst transfer to date. Yet again, like the previous laserdisc issue and all previous DVD releases, this is a heavily cut version - but without the 1912 silent version and interview with Richard Williams from the BFI's issue. And, just to round out a very disappointing history, the German and Australian Blu-rays are very poor copies of exactly the same cut version. Very disappointing.
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on 20 August 2004
Tony Richardson's Charge Of the Light Brigade is a truly great movie in every regard.
The screenplay is brilliant, the performances superb and the cinematography is breathtaking. Sadly the British Film Institute have seen fit to issue the film in a truncated form either through ignorance or laziness. The UK version of the movie both theatrically and on video was the length the director intended however in the US the movie was cut by 7 minutes at the time of it's original release and it is this issue which the BFI have released. Presumably they simply used the same master as the American DVD release on MGM without doing any research (great job BFI!) which is odd as one would have expected that someone or maybe a number of researchers at the institute are paid for doing that very job and that another someone would have to approve the release. I had imagined that a BFI release was a stamp of quality similar to the Criterion collection but it would seem this operation has more in common with Delboy Trotter than I could have imagined. Hopefully a label more passionate about the art of film making than the BFI will one day issue this film as it deserves to be seen.
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on 26 September 2007
Even in its abused, neglected state (hence the four-star rating instead of five) Richardson's "Charge of the Light Brigade" is still a fantastic piece of cinema and a sadly overlooked classic in the same league as the wonderful "Oh, What a Lovely War". At a time when most modern young British directors regularly churn out terrible mockney gangster flicks, wet rom-coms or stagnant period dross it seems such a shame that this bold example of British cinema should suffer such a fate. Sir David Puttnam even recently stated how extremely angry he was that Light Brigade remains completely ignored as the quality piece of cinematic art that it obviously is.

Richardson himself had planned this film as his masterpiece but became so disillusioned with the reaction to his work that he mercilessly hacked out huge amounts of footage (including a sequence showing the charge by the heavy brigade) that had editor Kevin Brownlow weeping in frustration. In an age when tons of utter cinematic bilge is showcased in sparkling new prints with dolby-surround sound and released on DVD with hours of documentaries, trailers and director's commentaries it is about time that "Charge of the Light Brigade" was rescued, restored and re-issued in all its full FOUR hour glory (if all that extra footage still survives of course).

I want storyboards, interviews with cinematographer David Watkin (who scoured dusty old camera cupboards all over London looking for period lenses that would add a Victorian patina to the terrific photography). Add in all the production artwork that's fit to print, a whole section dedicated to Richard Williams' magical animated segments and other documentaries that span two discs. Maybe then some long overdue justice can be done in honour of this brilliant film. The BFI should hang its collective head in shame.
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on 26 January 2009
I've waited a long time to see this wonderful film on DVD. And I'd easily give it five stars.
BUT, this transfer is a disgrace! Save your money until someone takes the time and effort to do it properly.
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on 10 March 2009
I've always found this a classic film - with some flaws but hugely enjoyable with excellent performances from Trevor Howard, John Gielgud and Harry Andrews in particular. So I welcome the chance to own it on DVD but be prepared for really dreadful sound which will have you straining to follow some of the dialogue - and no subtitles either. A shame and a missed opportunity.
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on 19 July 2014
This review is for the region B ( it will play on shop bought players in the UK) Australian bluray as pictured with David and Vanessa just about to kiss. I had the old BFI dvd and this is a very worth while upgrade although it's not as sharp as some other 60s films on bluray ( Zulu ) . The picture quality is still very pleasing though and I think some of the slight softness in the picture may be inherent from the source material . The running time states 126 mins but my disc clock had the film titles fading at 130 mins and 18 secs. This is still not the longer cut of the film. The only extra on the disc is a trailer. On the film itself, it's a lavish looking war satire , the first half setting up the characters and the second dealing with the Crimean war and the Charge. There are some large scale battle scenes and some horrific sights that disturbed me when I first saw the film on TV late one night when I was a nipper. I heartily recommend this disc and film.
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on 4 August 2004
Was very sorry to see that this edition was not released in 5.1 format and no information was provided to say what kind of sound quality might be expected.
Surely we are to expect better in 2004. Otherwise the film is a classic and a cinematic treat for any light-hearted history buffs.
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