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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 22 June 2004
This is a sprawling, glorious saga that will be appreciated by people who don't even like the Western genre. With fabulous cinematography, an excellent script, and two of my favorite actors, it's a film I never tire of watching.
Gregory Peck is the sea captain with principles who goes west to meet his future bride, only to find feuds and fighting, and some lawless varmints who need his "non violent" ways of resolving territorial issues. He is terrific as James McKay, who is sort of an Atticus Finch in boots, and looks mighty fine as well.
Charlton Heston has the smaller part as Leech, a foreman who is seething with jealousy and obeys the orders of his unscrupulous boss (rancher Terrill, played with subtle menace by Charles Bickford) as he yearns for his daughter. Heston is brilliant as this rather complex character, and would a year later star in director William Wyler's next epic, "Ben Hur", which is perhaps my all-time most viewed and enjoyed film.
Both female leads are wonderful, and are portrayed with enormous strength; Jean Simmons, with her luminous eyes is the schoolteacher, and Carroll Baker is the tough daughter of rancher Bickford, and is too much like her daddy to make a suitable bride for Peck.
Among the many strong performances in the supporting parts are Burl Ives, and received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his gnarly old Rufus, Chuck Connors is his bad to the bone son, and Alfonso Bedoya, is a delight as Ramon, who along with a horse named "Old Thunder", provides some of the humor in the film.
The score by Jerome Moross is lovely (and received an Oscar nomination) and the cinematography by Franz Planner spectacular. The film was shot in the Yuba and San Joaquin Counties in California, as well as canyon country in Chinly, Arizona, and it is breathtakingly beautiful.
If you like a good screen fight like I do, this has a great one, "mano a mano" between Peck and Heston; it initially has no music, just the pounding of the fists and the men gasping for breath, and is very effective.
Romance, drama, and lots of action make this a film that appeals to many, and is suitable for the whole family.
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on 9 November 2004
Despite what a previous reviewer said this is a full length version. The running time is 160 minutes which is slightly shorter than the NTSC version because of PAL conversion, nothing is cut from this film. Perhaps people could see the film before reviewing it.
The mistake was made because the original packaging said 95 minutes, this mistake is repeated on the Amazon listing (and most others).
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on 8 June 2007
This is an unreservedly great film, in so many respects. Previous reviewers have made good points about it that need no repetition from me. What intrigues me is that The Big Country is a neglected piece of cinema (I think the Radio Times Film Guide makes this very point). It shows what an astonishingly good actor the late Gregory Peck was, a master of quiet understatement and dignity. I believe he was a co-producer of the movie, so it was something of a labour of love. Whether you view it as an allegory of the Cold War, i.e. the pointlessly destructive head-to-head belligerence of two giant opponents, or you see it as a a cracking good western, you can't be disappointed. I think what intrigues and impresses me above all is that the style of the film doesn't date at all. It looks as if it could have been made last year, not nearly fifty years ago, and in fact looks better than slightly later Western classics such as The Magnificent Seven. It just has a fresh feel about it and is one of very few films that I could watch over and over again (if I had the time..!|). There is subtlety and nuance in every frame and the pace doesn't flag. The plot is clever and not stereotyped. Oh yes, and Jerome Moross' fabulous music score is unforgettable. And the cinematography. Oh well, everything about it really. Fantastic film. Watch. Enjoy.
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on 30 January 2014
I am happy to report that the new region-free Blu-ray version has just been released in the UK. It is a treat, with superb video, excellent resolution and wonderful sound quality, albeit somewhat attenuated. I just turned up the volume. There is no evidence (to my eyes) of the reported aspect ratio problem with the imported US version. A classic film with which every western fan will be familiar. Highly recommended!
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on 7 January 2013
Firstly, this US import Blu ray plays in the UK, I mention this as it is not clear on the UK Amazon listing that this disc is region free or at least playable in Europe.
The Big Country is an intelligent Western and when I first saw it way back in the late sixties I was too young to fully appreciate its maturity. I remember of course the rousing score by Jerome Morross and the vast landscapes. To view it again on my 42in LG tv in splendid Blu ray has been magical. NOTE: Do not be disappointed during the opening titles, for some reason these images have not been Blu ray'd, I dont know why. This does not spoil the experience when the majestic theme music sounds as beautiful as ever accompanying the thundering stagecoach.
When we then see the very first scene of the movie, the tiny town, the splendour of the Blu ray kicks in with sharp, dynamic colour and contrast. From then on the blu ray version is a visual feast. The Big country landscapes become even bigger and the larger your screen the more amazing it will look.
I refer you to other reviews and wikipedia for the plot.
The Big country is for me quite out on its own in the way it interprets a story of the American West in the 19th century.
It considers the struggles and dilemmas to maintain some integrity, morality and justice facing those settling in this huge expanse. It reveals alot of the personality of each of its main characters gradually and cleverly. Romance is very realistically handled as is the true value of love. Pride and honour eventually determine it's outcome. A destiny the viewer eventually realises was sadly the only fate deserved.
It really is unique in its genre due to how it drip feeds the viewer its engrossing saga. Even for those who may not grasp this aspect too well, the Big country is a wonderful cinematic sight, it is amongst a few movies which display brilliantly and conclusively the real meaning of the 'big screen', sweeping to its full width and depth the awesome panoramas of open country, their splendour ever present in a very big story. Enjoy, and make it Blu ray, you will be in the cinema!!!
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on 30 August 2011

Very solid picture+sound. Original aspect ratio.

Film: 8/10
Picture quality 8.5/10
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 orig.
Run time (24 fps): 2 46'54''
Chpt.: 17
Audio: Engl. HD MA
ST: GB;E;F;D;I ; o/-
Bonus: Making of, Trailer, TV spot
Studio: 2oth Century Fox/MGM
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on 25 September 2014
Classic film,about morality with an interesting story and characters. With what is going on in my live, have a lot of sympathy for the Charlton Heston character.

The blu ray itself is disappointing it plays the film and that's it. The advertised special features on pack of packaging don't exist, and it is not obvious how even to get language subtiles if needed them. Glad read a previous review, else would have thought something faulty with disk in opening titles. Even later in film in the open air scenes showing, ummm the big country, the picture quality isn't great compared to say Zulu. Indoor scenes very clear, and sound always good. They chould have made this product much better, but didn't make any effort.
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on 8 February 2015
This has long been one of my favourite films. I had a copy for many years which unfortunately went AWOL so I have just re-bought it. How I love it. For me it is one of the ultimate epics. The music starts just before the opening credits and sweeps through the whole film. Wonderful wide open country with the sun always shining. But nobody sweats and although dust clouds are raised everything is always spotlessly clean. A large cast of experienced actors. Young Gregory Peck extremely handsome, and young Charlton Heston sultry and menacing. Burl Ives gives a commanding performance. The first time we see him a back view head and shoulders shot against the colourful ball scene at his rival's house. It is a classic story of the hatred of two old men: young love, property and power in the wild west. It has been around for a long time so I am sure everyone who wants to see it has seen it but here are a few lines from me, for what they are worth. Oh yes and of course the lovers ride off together in the end, not into the sunset but to a viewpoint overlooking the panorama of the amazing rolling countryside, and presumably live happily ever after.
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on 23 June 2015
Classic film, that has over the years been shoved to one side. It's a big film, with a big cast and a big great score.
Should have won more Oscars, How was the music score left out at Oscar time!!!. Did I say it's a forgotten film.
Forget the 3* and lower reviews, as its BIG in every way, but for its extras, It seems films like this can only have
a paltry bit film about "The Big Country" and a film trailer, that's all, such a shame.
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on 25 October 2013
Mr Clarke,
I dont understand what you are saying in your review,I own the US Blu-ray of The Big Country,and it,s Region Free by the way,not Region A,and it,s in the correct aspect ratio of 2.35.1.
My US Import is beautiful picture quality,apart from the grainy title sequences,once the titles are finished the picture quality is stunning,if the UK release is the same picture quality as the US blu-ray then all fans of this western classic are in for a real treat.
Maybe the blu-ray you watched was just a bad disc?I,m not trying to cause bother here,I,m just puzzled about "the wrong aspect ratio",none of the characters look obese/stretched on my US Import.
So,with the greatest respect,can you explain a wee bit more about what you mean by "the wrong aspect ratio"???
Davy Cairns,Scotland.
ps,I,ve read other reviews of the US Import and none have mentioned anything about a wrong aspect ratio.
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