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Customer Review

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sand Pebbles - a powerful and human anti-war film, 8 Oct 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Sand Pebbles [VHS] (VHS Tape)
"The Sand Pebbles" has been one of my favourite films since I first saw it on television in 1976. It is set in 1926 in revolution-torn China, when the crew of an American gunboat, the San Pablo, is called upon to rescue some American missionaries working far up the Yang Tse river. This widescreen version does justice not just to the sweeping panoramas of the quite breathtaking Chinese scenery, but also to the sweeping events and themes of the story. It is in every way a "big" film, dealing with political and military intervention (clear parallels with Vietnam at the time of release), nationalism, racism, and the horrors of war. Yet for all its heavy themes, it is most successful in the depiction of its very human characters. These characters are not just the means of conveying the "messages" of the film, or fodder for the gripping and well-staged action scenes. They are individuals in their own right, involved in something far greater than their own destinies. Some are unpleasant and ignorant while others are honourable but lost in the sea of historic events surrounding them. Some, like Jake Holman (Steve McQueen), demand sympathy and respect as they struggle to come to terms with their personal challenges brought to the fore by these historically significant and politically dangerous events. Inevitably there are slow and confusing passages as the political implications are expounded, but these are more than compensated for by our emotional engagement as we become involved in the stories of the people caught up in the political fall-out. Robert Wise's direction is strong and emotionally charged, complemented perfectly by Jerry Goldsmith's wonderfully haunting and ominous music. Steve McQueen gives what was probably the performance of his career (receiving his only Academy Award nomination), and he is supported by a wonderful cast including Richard Attenborough, Richard Crenna, Candice Bergen (aged just 19), and especially Mako. But it is really McQueen's film. His very presence lifts scenes and he manages to convey authenticity and gain the sympathy of the viewer with consummate ease. Apparently misunderstood by some critics on its release, it is a powerful and intrinsically human anti-war film. It is not a happy film, but it is totally absorbing and thought provoking.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 13 Apr 2010 10:21:14 BDT
Don't know who you are. "A Customer" is usually the publisher themselves giving a plug to their own product. However, I agree with every word you say.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Feb 2012 02:03:02 GMT
Was going to buy this film but i am told the uncut version should be 190 mins long,

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Nov 2012 23:12:40 GMT
Last edited by the author on 18 Nov 2012 23:14:55 GMT
And/Burro says:
Thanks for your review. I agree with you that this must be Steve McQueens best performance. His director in the film Robert Wise said of his performance. " So real, so right." He was always great to watch in most of his films but in the Sand Pebbles his performance really stands out. It got him his only Oscar Nomination and very well deserved.
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4.6 out of 5 stars (38 customer reviews)
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