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4.7 out of 5 stars
The Dam Busters (Special Edition) [DVD] [1955]
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 22 August 2000
Every Briton knows 'The Dam Busters', & few of us can hear the fabulous 'Dam Busters March' without feeling a swell of pride &/or becoming a tad teary-eyed.
It's certainly not the kind of film that would be made today - sensibilities have changed so much in 50 years - but it is a fine example of British WWII films, & an absolute classic. There is a strangely affecting combination of world-weariness & innocence in the bomber crews, young men who knew that they were likely to die any day now. No over-the-top special effects, no gung-ho speechifying - just a beautifully observed, sparely written script, strong on characterisation & plot development. Imagine that.
Regarding the argument over Gibson's naming of his dog: It is certainly not "PC", but I cannot agree that it should be changed. The term "nigger" certainly connoted more than mere colour to the people who experienced it as a term of abuse (as they definitely did throughout the Empire), but that was the dog's name, however much we may despise it now. To change the name in dubbing is to dodge an issue; to claim that the word did not have terrible connotations is naive; to complain because a viewer referenced the fact that they found the term offensive is to be blind to the power the word wields still - perhaps these folk are fortunate enough never to have witnessed any racial abuse in their lives. Nonetheless, the dog's name was what it was, & should not be changed because it makes us uncomfortable - we should simply be glad that it does.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
The raid on the Ruhr Dams by 617 Squadron was one of the most famous during World War 2. Not entirely successful since only two dams were destroyed, it was nevertheless a morale booster. Sadly, eight of the aircraft failed to return to base, and this film is a tribute to their courage and memory. Richard Todd, a fine actor portrays Guy Gibson VC with great sensitivity. Many fine actors grace this film; if you look closely, you will spot John Fraser,Robert Shaw and Richard Thorpe before they became household names. Sir Michael Redgrave portrays the eccentric inventor Barnes Wallis with distinction. The special effects are dated of course, but it doesnt matter. The music score is famous too. Some of the aerial scenes by the way were filmed in Lincolnshire and Humberside, Goole Port standing in for a German village. Needs to be on DVD though for picture clarity. If you love British war films, you must buy this as a tribute to the brave crews of the RAF.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 18 June 2000
This film really captures the atmosphere of the days. Solving a challenge with rudimentary technology and enormous courage by the aircrews. If you stand next to a Lancaster and the Wallis bomb it is hard to believe it worked at all. And having been to the Moehne dam it is a miracle they knocked a hole in it. But in the cold light of history it did not actually have a significant effect on German industry.
And please no PC about Guy Gibson's dog Nigger! It is an historical fact, like it or not; shall we try to pretend there was no slavery? Or shall we re-write history completely (as the US film industry seems to do regularly with the capture of Enigma, anything involving the Irish etc etc!)
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 18 June 2000
W/Cdr Guy Gibson VC was a hero beyond words. This film covers his most famous mission, which he survived and was awarded the VC. He also held the DSO & Bar and DFC & Bar. He was shot down in 1943 having insisted upon returning to operations.
How typical of an American reviewer to suggest re-writing our history again with political correctness over the name of a dog that at the time had no other meaning than a simple colour.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 10 December 2009
Ignore all the comments about "stiff upper lip" and the criticism of the special effects. This is without a doubt one of the finest war films ever made. It tells the story of a genius in his field who when presented with the challenge of bombing the dams in the Ruhr valley to halt German war-time steel production came up with a way of doing it. The inaccessibility of the targets meant that the solution was seen as almost fantastic by the bureaucrats who had to give the go ahead and the first half of the film focuses on Michael Redgrave giving a superb performance showing the struggle Barnes Wallace faced in realising his vision.

Enter Richard Todd who plays the irrepressible Guy Gibson, at times seemingly the only person who actually believes in Barnes Wallace. The interaction between the two as they come to the realisation that they have found kindred spirits should be studied by today's "A-List" as a lesson in how to act. It's clear from the film that while Barnes Wallace was a genius inventor, Guy Gibson was clearly a genius pilot and the two combined pulled off an incredible feat of engineering and flying.

This is a film as much about the relationship between the two men and their belief in each other when all others doubted them as it is about the bombing raid itself. The supporting cast are superb and give as faithful a depiction of the realities of war in both it's tedium and it's sudden brutality. Look beyond the dated special effects and the martial music and you find a true classic of a film, set against a backdrop of life in wartime Britain depicted by actors and film-makers who had first hand experience of that life.

The blockbusters of more recent years don't even come close.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 8 September 2009
One of my relatives took part in the raids on the Dams, his name was Hobday and he was a navigator. I feel proud that he was one of those chosen for this special task. I think the film is excellent and most certainly a classic. Nothing about war is good or indeed wonderful, but these heroic men did their part in bringing WWII to a close. I am proud of this family member and will keep the film as a tribute to his heroism and those of the other crew members. The one sad thing I always remember about it, is the death of the dog. Brave men were dying, yet this part of the film were Guy Gibson's faithful labrador is killed, still affects me. Great film, could not be bettered and worth watching.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 5 January 2001
A terrific telling of a terrific story..Richard Todd and all the 'flying' cast pace it beautifully despite the apalling casualty rate of the raid. But pause for a moment and think back to high school physics then consider the 'other' hero..Barnes Wallis, already creator of the Wellington bomber (The taut reference to having invented it as a reason to be able to 'borrow' one for tests on the bomb is well noted..) and his seemingly imossible bomb, the bomb aimer's sight and the device by whch a constant altitude was held - 60'..yes 60'..in a Lancaster bomber under fire..OK, so you fly one and see how its done - all tell of smaller, human stories sewn together to picture a sequence larger than the sum of its parts with no forced 'commentary' or 'spin' at all. Human spirit? Of course. Just don't forget these were 'regular guys' doing something special (just like anyone else who puts on a uniform and preserves our freedom), so its in there within all of us too. Miss this movie and miss a tribute to a few and to what we can all do.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
If only our clever old boffins could come up with some way to blow up Germany's dams. But surely it's impossible. How do you get a bomb into just the right position to shatter a huge structure of solid concrete that's cushioned against any sort of impact by a vast body of water on one side? One boffin, Barnes Wallis, had the nutty idea that you could get a bomb into the perfect place for dam destruction if you could just get it to bounce across the reservoir then sink on impact with the dam. Ridiculous! Or so the men from the ministry were inclined to think. But Barnes did it. He needed all his perseverance and ingenuity and when he finally succeeded, he modestly gave credit for the original idea to Nelson, who found that canon balls could do enemy ships more damage if you could get them to bounce across the water. Because the RAF fliers had to drop the bombs so precisely, they had to invent a way of ensuring the right altitude (it had to be exactly 60 feet) and distance from the dams (600 yards). The needs of the time seem to have given rise to a fountain of ingenious solutions from our brave, clever chaps.

The Dam Busters is a wonderful film of heroism and stoicism in fighting a strong and resourceful foe abroad and battling the frustrating inertia of a rigid bureaucracy at home. It's a remarkable, true story, very moving, reminds us of what we have to be grateful for, who we should be proud of, and why. The acting is excellent and the music is that *Dam Busters Music* that we always associate with The Dam Busters film. I couldn't tell you how many times I've watched this film on the telly - only that I watch it whenever it's been broadcast. And I've watched the DVD twice since I received it last week. It's over 50 years old, made in black and white, the special effects are pretty good for the time it was made (but of their time nevertheless) and there are no special features - not even subtitles. It doesn't matter. Whether it's despite its age and limitations or because of them, this is one of my favourite films and I recommend it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 28 July 2010
Although I did enjoy watching this film on Blu-Ray I have to say it's not 100% perfect as some of my esteemed colleagues have claimed. True, the print quality is clear and sharp and the sound quality is decent enough. Even so, there is some very noticeable dirt, and a few prominent scratches that one feels could have been got rid of with a bit more work. Also, the SDH subtitles seem to have been added as an afterthought and contain several proofreading errors. So... four out of five, but if only they'd put in that little bit of extra effort. Dam.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on 28 February 2011
I am disgusted at the hack job your staff at Amazon UK did regarding this film. it betrays a political agenda which is unworthy of your company. The Dam Busters operation was NOT a "minor incident" as is stated and the mocking comments about the heroics portrayed in the film are what one should not expect from a company purporting to serve a population including supporters of veterans. It appears that the reviewer was more concerned with "politically correcting" the dog's name than recognizing the heroic action of those so accurately portrayed in the film. The flippant remark about making Bambi weep was an unsuccessful gratuitous attempt at cuteness and does not belong there. The review as published should be removed and placed, instead, as a "viewer's opinion" because the privilege of reviewing the film for Amazon was obviously abused for a partisan purpose. I purchased the film (FROM YOU FOLKS) and am extremely pleased with the product. What you don't realize is that this film was, as much as anything, a tribute to the fliers in Bomber Command, heroes who performed the significant role of taking the war to Germany during the dark years of 1942 and 1943. My recently passed father flew in Halifax bombers with the RCAF, performing two tours over the Rhur valley. Your flippant review dissed, not only him, but his comrades in Bomber Command, alive and deceased. Shame on you!
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