The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968)

PG-13   |    |  Drama, History, War


The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968) Poster

In 1854, during the Crimean War, poor planning leads to a British Light Brigade openly charging a Russian artillery position with tragic consequences.


6.7/10
2,803

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  • David Hemmings in The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968)
  • Mark Dignam in The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968)
  • The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968)
  • The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968)
  • Vanessa Redgrave and Tony Richardson in The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968)
  • John Gielgud and Jill Bennett in The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


11 June 2001 | Bobs-9
Another time, another place
I do find it fascinating to come across obscure, almost forgotten films like this with familiar faces and famous actors in it. It was made ca. 1968, and in the true spirit of '68, it is strongly anti-war, anti-military, and anti-establishment, even though it is set in the Victorian era, the height of the Romantic age, when Military valor was largely celebrated. Military life is here portrayed in terms of ranks of men being bullied and brutalized by each successive rank above them, with the biggest, meanest and stupidest ones at the top.

I found it quite interesting to see the famous charge, celebrated in the romantic verses of Tennyson, portrayed in such a matter-of-fact manner as a series of tactical blunders due to bad communication and incompatible personalities among the commanders. These events were supposedly well-researched, and though I am not informed on the subject, I found this version of events very credible. Even with the high level of weapons and communications technology we have today, this sort of thing still happens. It must have been very common in centuries past.

To me, the dialog of this film and its delivery by the actors is its most remarkable feature. Seeing films that depict distant eras, I've often thought that these eras must have not just looked different from what we are used to, but sounded very different as well. If we were suddenly dropped into Victorian England, we wouldn't always understand what was being said or inferred to us. Words, phrases, gestures, facial expressions or body language that would have obvious meaning in that time and place would be strange to us. The language and syntax would, of course, be different, but so would the rhythm, pace, expressive color and accenting of the way people spoke. `Charge of the Light Brigade' does a remarkable job of not just looking, but sounding like a distant place and time. For a viewer who is not educated in antique British expressions and military jargon, as I am not, it makes watching this film a bit challenging, but it's like spending 130 minutes in the Victorian age as a so-called `fly-on-the-wall,' as the British put it. There was more than one line spoken after which I thought `say what?' But that's OK. It doesn't kill you, just encourages you to think a bit. This aspect of the film looks to be well-researched as well, a superb example of a somewhat talky script in which great care is taken with the language and its use by the actors. The script doesn't serve the purpose of an exposition device for the dumbest members of the audience, a very common vice in films, particularly big-money films engineered to alienate as few people as possible. It's an integral part of a design to recreate an unfamiliar time and place, and as such, a bit uncompromising.

Critic Reviews


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Did You Know?

Trivia

DIRECTOR CAMEO (Tony Richardson): In a walk-on bit part.


Quotes

Lord Cardigan: Well, here goes the last of the Brudenells. The Brigade will advance ! Trumpeter, walk march !


Goofs

Following the Sergeant Major's flogging, when Nolan, Cardigan, & the other officers are walking beneath the breezeway, a modern overhead electric lamp and its outdoor cord covers are clearly visible overhead.


Crazy Credits

Closing credits roll over a drawing of a dead horse, with the buzzing of flies in the soundtrack.


Alternate Versions

The American release version (MGM/UA Region 1 DVD) is missing six minutes 45 seconds' worth of material present in the UK VHS tape released in 1992. The latter has a running time (adjusted to 24fps) of about 136 mins compared to the DVD which runs about 130 mins. Three sections are affected: Clarissa's wedding reception; a church service; and three consecutive scenes in the Crimea, involving a sentry failing to identify Lord Raglan at night and shooting at him, piercing his hat; the sentry being flogged but earning a reward from Lord Cardigan for his bravery; and Captains Nolan and Morris eating the breakfasts of several enlisted men while out riding. The British tape is itself missing seven seconds of footage cut by the censor (shots of trip-wired horses during the charge) and is still short of the original running times of 138 minutes 40 seconds as registered by the British Board of Film Censors in 1968, 141 minutes as listed in most reference sources, and 145 minutes as reviewed by Variety.


Soundtracks

My Heart's In The Highlands
(uncredited)
Traditional
Lyrics by
Robert Burns
Arranged by John Addison
Sung by a tenor Scottish soldier in a Crimean camp

Storyline

Plot Summary


Genres

Drama | History | War

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