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Bomber Harris [DVD] [1989]

4.3 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: John Thaw, Robert Hardy, Frederick Treves, Bernard Kay, Sophie Thompson
  • Directors: Michael Darlow
  • Format: PAL, Full Screen, Digital Sound, Dolby
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Simply Media
  • DVD Release Date: 4 Nov. 2002
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00006JY42
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 29,443 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

John Thaw stars as the legendary Bomber Command C-in-C in this engrossing BBC drama, co-starring Robert Hardy as Churchill.
Based on real events and skilfully making use of genuine wartime film footage of RAF Bomber Command, Bomber Harris is a triumph for John Thaw and a fascinating account of some of the most controversial and devastating missions ever carried out by the RAF.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By Wilz VINE VOICE on 11 April 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
John Thaw at his best again, dealing with a difficult man who has been abandoned by the Establishnent despite his huge contribution to the War effort. It is clear from history that the "1000 bomber" raids were having a dramatic impact on the German war effort and Albert Speer himself confirmed in post war interviews that a few more devastating attacks would have brought production and the will to continue to an end. This film shows exactly how Harris was ill treated after the war and Churchill really used him as a scapegoat.

There must be huge sympathy for the poor people caught in these raids and, as with any mass killing, some diquiet. With over 50 million dead in the 5 years, 15 or 20 thousand killed in a raid, no matter how terrible, must be seen in perspective. I think this film makes you think carefully and takes you beyond the headlines. Watch it and then ask yourself, if this saved one Allied life, would you have supported Harris?
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By A Customer on 19 Nov. 2003
Format: DVD
This is a film about one of the most controversial figures of World War II. Sir Arthur Harris remains the target of criticism and vilification by many, while others believe the contribution he and his men made to victory is grossly undervalued. The film examines Harris's life from youth in Rhodesia to fighting in World War I, the inter-war years, his two families and his post-war years in South Africa and England. He reveals and analyses how Harris did his job in RAF Bomber Command during World War II, his leadership of his men in the face of appalling casualties, his disagreements with higher authority, his dealings with Churchill, his close links with the Americans, his role in directing the bombing raids against Germany, most notably at Dresden, and the way he was treated afterwards. The Bomber Harris DVD provides the most complete and rounded picture of one of the great high commanders of modern times and an outstanding military personality of World War II.
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Format: DVD
Creating empathy for Harris with a German is not easy but this drama succeeded. First of all the film shows that Harris had a clear military target and a strategic objective. Furthermore the author plays devil's advocate in suggesting that Harris' strategy of aerial bombardment would have shortened the war as opposed to aiming at specific targets. Harris' duty as a soldier is to his men and his country regardless of the cost to others. Thaw plays him as a complex character: on the one hand as a ruthless soldier but on the other hand also as a human being. The film raises a lot of moral questions and does not provide easy answers but food for thought. It also sows what a fine actor John Thaw is: here he acts very restrained and controlled as opposed to his Morse/ Regan persona.
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I am embarrassed to say that being an American, I knew very little about 'Bomber' Harris. I had purchased this DVD because of my admiration of John Thaw. I found his portrayal to be quite riveting and I didn't once think of Jack Regan or Inspector Morse as I watched this program. John Thaw commanded the screen at all times. This was obviously shot on a very limited budget, but the acting here transcends all of that. Since viewing this movie I have seen the real life Bomber Harris on the History Channel and could see for myself what John Thaw was trying for. I am not sure how much of this movie has been fictionalized, if any at all, but I found the story compelling and the character of Bomber Harris to be sympathetic. The transfer to DVD itself is very sharp although it seems to have been run off from a 3/4 inch video tape master and not the original film negative. I only found one slight video glitch in the entire presentation and was very satisfied with the product itself.
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I liked a lot this most excellent, albeit unusual, British war film. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

First, an important precision - this film looks much more like TV theatre than a "real" movie. All action occurs only in a handful of rooms, without I believe ever going outside. Some original war footage is inserted and some music from 1940s is occasionally played, but other than that "Bomber Harris" is really rather a theatre piece, and its strength reposes mostly on dialogue.

This film tells the story of Marshal of the Royal Air Force, Sir Arthur Travers Harris, 1st Baronet, GCB, OBE, AFC (13 April 1892 - 5 April 1984), commonly called "Bomber" Harris by the press - and sometimes also "Butcher" Harris by the RAF Bomber Command crews. He was the commander in chief of Bomber Command from February 1942 until his retirement in September 1946. Soon after taking his functions Harris was ordered by the War Cabinet to launch a campaign of powerful area bombings of German cities using large formations of bombers - it would replace the previous campaign of precision attacks by small groups of planes, which proved to be a complete failure. It is not shown very clearly in the film, but main military British leaders were very reluctant to use such tactics, not so for moral reasons (the destruction of Coventry by Luftwaffe on 14 November 1940 took mostly care of this issue) but because of fear of great own casualties, particularly from air collisions over the target.

The film begins when Harris, pressed by Churchill to make a test raid, started to prepare the operation "Millennium" - a 1000 bombers raid against one of major German cities.
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