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4.3 out of 5 stars
48
4.3 out of 5 stars
Bomber Harris [DVD] [1989]
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on 8 June 2017
A great story We owe him a great many thanks
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on 12 May 2017
BRILLIANT AND AS DESCRIBED
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on 25 May 2017
great movie
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 3 July 2013
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. It was executed in the night of 30-31 May 1942 when 1047 medium and heavy bombers attacked Cologne (Köln) and 113 light bombers (Blenheims and Mosquitos) targeted the bases of German night-fighters. Those were all planes Bomber Command could muster at that moment. Amongst the 1047 bombers were especially all the machines from training units, including 28 antediluvian Whitleys and 78 only slightly less obsolete Hampdens...

The raid flattened a large area in the center of town, killing 469 people (411 civilians and 58 soldiers), leaving more than 50 000 people homeless and pushing a grand total of 150 000 to flee Cologne in the following days. The total cost for RAF was 43 planes, including 22 medium and heavy bombers shot by the Flak directly over Cologne or in the immediate vicinity, 16 others shot by Flak when flying towards the target or on the way back and only 4 (four) downed by night fighters. Two Blenheim light bombers were also lost during attacks against bases of Germand night fighters. Finally - contrary to the great fears of British high command before the raid - there was also one (and only one) collision in the air between the heavy bombers during the attack, resulting in the loss of both planes.

After this successful attack Bomber Command would until the end of the war relentlessy and mercilessly pound German cities, causing enormous destructions and killing tens of thousands civilians. There is no question that those attacks greatly contributed to Hitler's defeat, but they were hard to accept to many people in United Kingdom. A particularly great outcry was caused by the attack of RAF and USAAF on Dresden on 13 February 1945, in which at least 25.000 Germans were killed. Harris was particularly targeted by the press following this raid, even if in fact the request for the obliteration of Dresden came from the highest levels of power, as it was ordered by Churchill and Roosevelt, after Stalin requested it in the strongest possible terms to help the Red Army advance deeper into Germany, towards Berlin.

Just to be precise, this film covers ONLY World War II years of life, from his appointment as Commander in Chief of Bomber Command in 1942, to the Victory Day (8 February 1945).

John Thaw is EXCELLENT as "Bomber" Harris (he in fact looks quite like him) and he is the main reason of the success of this film. Obstinate, strong minded (even pigheaded...), impatient and having little use for diplomacy, his Harris appears as an extremely interesting person and a very efficient soldier, forcing respect even if one doesn't agree with him. Other actors also did very well, especially Robert Hardy, who plays Churchill.

This film shows both points of view in the debate about allied bombing campaign against German cities, without openly picking its side - and I think it is a good choice. This film also is not in any way a hagiography - errors committed by Sir Arthur Harris during the World War II (like his fixation on Berlin as target) are not forgotten.

Although not very long (only 85 mn) and made clearly on a little budget, this is nevertheless a powerful and important movie, from which it is possible to learn a lot. I will keep my DVD for another viewing in the future. Enjoy!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 10 December 2011
In 1992, eight years after his death, a monument to Sir Arthur 'Bomber' Harris (1892-1984) was erected in central London, forty-five years after the ending of WWII; these dates give a clear insight into how this, perhaps the most controversial allied officer of WWII, was partially shunned by the establishment after the war.

John Thaw is excellent portraying this complex and some say, difficult, character through the most challenging decisions of the war. Heavy bombing became possible after the development of large bombers but the difficulty of accurate bombing, often under intense fire, was highlighted by reports and reconnaissance. Still highly contentious, John Thaw creates the highly decorated officer well and also the man behind the uniform.

Recommended
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on 8 May 2008
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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VINE VOICEon 11 April 2007
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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on 7 January 2013
Good factual storyline, with some great acting performances especially from John Thaw. The whole thing was somewhat let down by the third rate production and backdrops, however it was made some time ago.
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on 19 November 2003
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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on 30 January 2011
This is a good made for TV drama which whilst addressing some of the arguments for and against bombing it does not ( nor did it ever intend ) resolve them , this is left to the viewer.

JT plays the role of "Bomber" / "Butch" Harris very well and for me the drama worked, it is well written , well acted and no big budget was required , sets are simple and spartan as was the wartime environment for aircrew and planners.

As you would expect the case for and against bombing is made through various characters as is the case for daylight vs night bombing, Harris's demand to follow his own agenda and his single minded approach to building up and using his command - not to mention his unwillingness to see it subordinated to the great scheme of the Allied war effort.

Harris remains central throughout which I think is fair and JT does produce something of a contrast to his other best known wartime role " Mr Tom" , little trace of him in this one.

Bomber Command was a tool of destruction created to drop bombs and to win a war , this it did and with hindsight some will rightly ask was it worth it what we also need to ask was what were the alternatives ?

Watch the drama and put yourself in Harris's shoes , when he took over there was no assurance of how WW2 was going to end, if indeed we would win at all or at what cost.
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