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Customer Review

10 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An insult to the dead, 16 Aug. 2014
This review is from: A Bridge Too Far [DVD] [1977] (DVD)
This is a revolting film, an insult to those who died at Arnhem and a disgrace from a director who is not only British, but likes to advertise himself as a super-patriot. What is this film about? Not the obscenity of war, not military history, not the human tragedy of an ambitious, botched operation. No, it's yet another movie about how the Americans won the war despite the imbecility and criminal irresponsibility of those stupid Brits, whom the wonderful Yanks were forced reluctantly to accept as allies. Attenborough, kowtowing cringingly to his American paymasters, goes along with gross distortions of the known facts (and of Cornelius Ryan's book) and presents even the most heroic of the Brits as buffoons and caricatures. John Frost, in reality a true hero, is not only presented as preposterously stiff-upper-lipped; he is, it's hinted, slightly bonkers - why, the fellow takes an antique hunting-horn into battle with him! In reality, of course, the horn was, after a parachute drop which scattered Frost's men over a radius of several miles, a useful means of indicating to these men where their CO was. Similarly, Denholm Elliott, in his one scene as a meteorologist, is encouraged by Attenborough to behave in so shifty a manner, and to look so seedy and unreliable, that one might think that he was being deliberately misleading in his weather report - what he actually says is reasonable, an unavoidable uncertainty, but he's presented as a thoroughgoing sleaze. Worse yet, though, is the depiction of General Browning, who, being handily dead at the time of the film's shooting (unlike the other military leaders depicted), gets all the blame dumped on him. Shamefully, his famous remark about "going a bridge too far", which gives the film its title, is presented as the last line, so that the unknowing in the audience will gasp "Bloody liar!", as Attenborough intends they should. In reality, of course, he said it before the operation began. Dirk Bogarde, required to play Browning as an arrogant psychopath, gives maybe the worst performance of his career, and went to his grave expressing shame at ever having agreed to be in it; his long friendship with Attenborough, whom he thereafter spoke of with contempt, ended here. Desperately casting about for something positive to say, one must admit that Edward Fox is very likeable as General Horrocks (and very like the old soldier who used to give lectures on the BBC a half-century and more ago), that Sean Connery has natural gravitas and star presence as General Urquhart (despite the role being poorly-scripted) and that there's some good photography. The Hollywood star quintet of Redford, Hackman, Gould, O'Neal and Caan will make you squirm. James Caan plays a sergeant called Eddie, like a movie character from the 1940s. The real man was called Charles. Does that tell you enough about the sort of cliche-ridden rubbish this film is?
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 21 Aug 2014 01:21:34 BDT
TWD says:
Wow - What a frightening rant.

Get some help.

Posted on 22 Aug 2014 09:28:15 BDT
Agree with everything you've said and I can tell you're upset! However, I still think it merits watching bearing in mind all those caveats! Reading Hasting's Armageddon, some of the Brits were a bit 'eccentric' and leaden but, probably chiefly Patton apart, so were the Yanks!

What annoys the hell out of me is the bloke on the bridge with his brolley. Now if that's anywhere remotely true he wa totally off his rocker!

Posted on 21 Mar 2015 12:44:57 GMT
Last edited by the author on 21 Mar 2015 12:46:29 GMT
foxy says:
I remember seeing an interview with Richard Attenborough where he freely talked about changing the actual events because the film couldn't have been made without American backing. If I remember rightly it should have been the British Grenadiers that capture the bridge in one of the final scenes and not the Americans a tall. God bless Dickie Attenborough, loved the bloke and it's probably more the producers fault than his, but changing such a massive historical fact is totally disrespectful and wreckless and he should have pulled out (especially because it seems to have set a trend with America changing historical facts through film). It's a great film but I can't watch it without getting angry. I don't want to be disrespectful to the American lads that fought either, but a lie is a lie.

Posted on 10 Jul 2015 09:30:55 BDT
D Whitley says:
Agree entirely. A passionate review but too well reasoned to be a 'rant', IMO.

'The Great Escape' also springs to mind.

Posted on 3 Mar 2016 09:41:57 GMT
Tony H says:
John Frost was an advisor on location for the film, and was pleased with Hopkins portrayal of him. I recommend you read his book 'A Drop Too Many'.

Posted on 13 Apr 2016 18:30:02 BDT
Brunel says:
I rather like the film - primarily for its portrayal of the huge logistical power of the allies and the aching tragedy of the operations failure. I do agree the childish demands of American money men to bend the story around to make every GI a hero undone by British bungling do become irritating. My personal favourite (if at least one of the least offensive) is Elliot Gould showing a British Armoured division how to build a Bailey bridge.
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