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  • SgtSlaughter1 October 2002
    10/10
    Wow
    "The Battle of Neretva" is an often confusing, badly edited mess… on American home video, that is. I've seen multiple versions of this film, and combined, they make one fine epic. Unfortunately, it has yet to be released in its entirety domestically on video or DVD, so it's hard for me to piece together a review of 3 entirely different movies.

    In 1943, Hitler orders the final destruction of the Yugoslav Partisans. The Partisans begin a trek northward to the relative safety of the Bosnian Mountains – their goal is to cross the treacherous Neretva gorge over one remaining bridge. Along the way, they battle German tanks, Italian infantry, Chetnik Cavalry, strafing airplanes, disease and natural elements.

    Yugoslav director Bulajic is telling his story from all points of view, but his sympathies lie with the Partisans. The film has pro-Communist leanings, and tells several interwoven stories stressing the importance of comradeship in wartime. There are many important characters: Yul Brynner ("Morituri") is crack demolition expert Vlado; Sergei Bondarchuk (director of "Waterloo") is short-tempered artillery officer Martin; Franco Nero ("The Mercenary") is an Italian Captain with no faith in Fascism; Hardy Kruger ("A Bridge too Far") is Colonel Kranzer, who fights with dedication which begins to dwindle as he realizes the bitter reality that the partisans are a formidable enemy; Ljubisa Samardzic ("Battle of the Eagles") and Sylva Koscina ("Hornets' Nest") are brother-and-sister, and Koscina is to marry Ivan (Lojze Rozman) after the war; the list goes on and on, and although every character is significant, it's impossible to list them all. There's an interesting twist, too: the legendary Orson Welles plays a Chetnik Senator who battles for concessions with General Lohring (the great Curd Jurgens), a committed Nazi officer who is determined the wipe out the Partisans once and for all. Surprisingly, Welles plays his role with boundless passion and gusto, and Jurgens departs from his usual role as an anti-Nazi realist German officer; here he is a cold-blooded Nazi officer - he may be his usually cool and restrained, yet occasionally explosive self - but he's still a cold-blooded Nazi.

    What's important is that, unlike many epics such as "The Longest Day" and "Is Paris Burning?" every subplot is clear and crucial at all times, and Bulajic manages to keep them every character engaging and recognizable at all times. Despite the scope of the battle scenes, the audience has a personal involvement with them because they feature characters we've come to care about.

    These battle scenes are the real stars of the show. They involve thousands of extras, dozens of T-34, Tiger and Sherman tank, German fighter planes, huge explosions and stunt horses which get blown in every direction. Bulajic uses wide shots quite often to show just how massive the combat zone is. Battles take place in green valleys, narrow streets and in the snow-covered mountains, and we can see just hazardous and realistic this scenery is. The Yugoslav landscape has never been so beautifully photographed, and the destruction amidst this beauty is quite sad and often depressing. The final scene, in which several of the main characters are killed (ironically enough, the battle takes place amidst an old cemetery) is epic in scope, with thousands of Chetnik horsemen being gunned down and shelled in a valley, but the personal sacrifice of the partisans is felt at the same time. Bernard Hermann's score is appropriately thunderous at times and also has meaningful, mournful cues. (This music was written exclusively for the edited international versions; the original, equally fantastic Klaus Vladimir Ratjeric score retained on longer prints and used only to aid the dramatic scenes).

    This is truly a great epic story, with strong character development interwoven with necessary spectacle. Even on home video in the United States, it's a good movie, and simply improves with each longer cut. "The Battle of Neretva" is simple one of the great lost films of the 20th Century.
  • I have seen most of the Yugoslav Partisan movies and I find "Bitka an Neretvi" in all aspects the best one. I wont describe the movie itself, you must see it yourself, and it is worth it. However, I would like to update some potential "non-Yugoslav" viewers about some important facts about that movie. The movie was made in 1969, in that period Yugoslav socialist/communist (as you like it)regime was running the most open-minded and "liberal" politics in his whole history. At that time some critics about regimes most outstanding icons were possible. The Partisan movement in WWII was one of them. A figure of a "Partisan" was in official ideological interpretation considered as a natural born patriot, ready to sacrifice, fully political aw eared, in two words: A man of steal, almost a mythical figure only possible to be compared with an ancient hero. In "Bitka Na Neretvi" we are faced with quiet another partisan hero. It is still a hero, but the one who knows the fear. One scene is thus so fascinating when you see partisans running off the battle line, screaming: "They are gonna kill us all!" Another scene shows elements of Partisan cruelty in discussion what to do with wounded comrades, one commandant says:"Whats more important, the fate of the revolution or the fate of our wounded comrades?" That kind of scenes would have been in pure propaganda movie impossible, as well as in John Wayne type of war movie. Other details are also very interesting. You would hard to notice the word of communism or communists, completely different as another movie "Bitka Na Sutjesci". The main hero is thus The People itself. Josip Broz Tito is only present in a short military order. Worth of notification is also the representation of the enemies. Germans are of course evil, but described as noble opponents. Italians are sometimes shown almost even more humanly than partisans, with moral doubt (Two Italian defectors even join partisans). The worst characters are collaborationist: Chetniks and Ustashas, shown as cold-blooded murderers.
  • There exist various versions of this film – running anywhere between 102 and 175 minutes; the one I watched, dubbed in Italian, was itself around 142 – although the official Italian print is actually 134 minutes long! Over the years, I had missed out on a couple of occasions to watch this – both on Italian and local TV, as well as a VHS rental. Given its title and roster of established international movie stars – Yul Brynner, Curd Jurgens, Sylva Koscina, Hardy Kruger, Franco Nero and Orson Welles – one could be forgiven for mistaking it as yet another WWII-set Hollywood epic a' la THE LONGEST DAY (1962) and BATTLE OF THE BULGE (1965). Consequently, its eventual nomination for Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award proves at first suspect and highly surprising but, in hindsight, well deserved since the film is actually a big-budget co-production between Yugoslavia, West Germany, Italy and even the U.S.A.

    While the film is mostly distinguished by the fact that it features an impressive array of battle sequences which must surely be counted among the most spectacular of its era, it must also be said that it takes care and time to show the effects that constant warfare has on the behavior of human beings: an explosives expert (Brynner) is renounced and spat at by his own people when he is forced to destroy their only way back home to stop the advancing troops; two blind men leading each other during an airborne attack are led by the sound of another man's voice already taking cover; a partisan is driven crazy when stricken by typhus; a proud Italian general (Anthony Dawson) commits suicide in a shabby room where he is held in captivity by the partisans; an Italian captain (Nero) deserts his side to join the ranks of the partisans and is taken under his wing by an artillery officer (Sergei Bondarchuk); a brother and a sister (Koscina), both members of the Yugoslav partisans, die together when hugely outnumbered during a deadly encounter with a band of long-haired renegade Chetniks led by a hesitant senator (Welles)!; a German captain (Kruger) comes to respect the determination of his enemies during combat, etc.

    Despite the various strands of plot touched upon and the multitude of major and minor characters involved, the unknown director weaves a clear and expansive picture of the river Neretva conflict – at least in the version I saw; one can only wonder what an incoherent mess the shorter versions (some of them accompanied by a new score by Bernard Herrmann, no less) must have been! Incidentally, in spite of that afore-mentioned Oscar nod, THE BATTLE OF NERETVA is still highly undervalued today – no doubt, its reputation is lost among the countless WWII actioners made both by Hollywood and Euro-Cult film-makers during the 1960s and 1970s.
  • It is sad that the most widely distributed version of this Yugoslavian war epic "Bitka na Neretvi" is the 102 minute version edited and dubbed in USA by Commonwealth United Films. This version, known as "The Battle of Neretva" has been shortened by a full hour. It looks a bit like a long trailer, offering samples of what is obviously a big scale, melodramatic giant of a film, like "The Longest Day". At times the re-editing looks like it has been made with an axe, some dialogue being cut from the middle of a sentence.

    I have just seen, however, a longer Commonwealth version: 127 minutes, 25 minutes longer. This is a far superior version, professionally edited into a coherent, well flowing narrative. It seems that the 102 minute "stub" has been edited from this. I can only imagine how much deeper the characterization would be with the 40 minutes still missing from the original. The Italian and German versions are longer than this 127 minute version, and they have been released on DVD. Still, for anyone preferring an English translation, this could be the best version around. Sadly it only seems to be available on VHS.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A grand-scale account of one of the most decisive campaigns in the Balkans in World War 2. Considering it was made largely for propaganda purposes, THE BATTLE OF NERETVA manages to remain somewhat true to the historical details and certainly delivers on action.

    This is one of those old-style painstakingly flawless films – you know, where almost every shot is beautifully composed and it's all directed with a certain dramatic fervor. Before this film I'd only seen low budget small-scale Yugoslavian films so I was surprised they were even capable of this. There's plenty of sweeping shots of thousands of extras battling, charging, or marching through the snow as far as the eye can see. Add to that, even the plain Jane strategy meetings between generals are shot and written to deliver the interesting battle details to make it all make perfect sense. Excellent unflinching air attacks and artillery bombardments sparing us nothing of the constant suffering and loss of life. You really get a great sense of how furious the German high command was and how frustrated they were that the Partisan army could not be knocked out.

    Add to that a top-notch international cast (for the time), including Yul Brynner, Orson Welles, Hardy Kruger, Curt Jurgens, Anthony Dawson, Sylvia Koscina, Sergei Bondarchuk, and Franco Nero all in substantial roles. A lot of Yugoslavia's top stars of the day make appearances as partisans, but unfortunately there's so many that they start to blur into each other after a while. Bondarchuk was given a role and brought on as technical adviser, and it's easy to see his hand in things after watching his battle scenes in WAR AND PEACE and WATERLOO.

    There are several different versions of this film of various lengths. East-bloc and West-bloc versions tend to be the main alternates from which various other smaller ones were cut. My favorite cuts tend to fall under the West-bloc category as they contain the glorious score by Bernard Herrmann, has most of the higher profile names speaking English in their own voices, and cut away some of the more outrageous propaganda. Then again, the East-bloc version contains a lot more humanity and fleshes out its characters a lot better, but to each his own. The commie version is a character drama; the capitalist version is an action movie.

    Like with any 60's World War 2 film there are plenty of technical inaccuracies and continuity problems due to the budget. For instance, a lot of the tanks and planes are improper equipment, but at least they made the effort to dress two T-34's to look like Tiger tanks. Unfortunately the Germans would have more likely used Panzer III and IV tanks which make no appearance here. Nicely, it does include lengthy subplots involving the numerous Nazi collaborators during the war, with the climactic battle not being Partisans vs. Germans, but Partisans vs. (poorly-coordinated and low-morale) Chetnik Militia.

    This film, unsurprisingly enough, was followed up with a similar though not quite-as-good (yet not entirely deservedly obscure) sequel SUTJESKA, doubling as a biopic for Yugoslavia's dictator (and Partisan leader) Josip Tito.
  • What is so great about this movie is its near matter-of-fact portray of the reality of the war, namely, the bloody defeats and suffering of the partisan army. This honest portray of what really happened in the past history is often taken for granted in movies made in west, but it is extremely rare in the eastern blocks, including the former-Yugoslavia, that is until this movie was made.

    The movie was based on the historical facts of German attack on the Yugoslavian Communist bases, including inflicting great casualties on the partisan army, and in addition, the logistic parts of the partisan army, such as the central hospital, and heavy equipment, such as artillery and vehicles, were completely lost. However, German failed their original objective of eliminating the partisan army once for all in one decisive blow, despite the fact wiping out every partisan base and inflicting significant casualties on partisans:

    Tito narrowly escaped the German spear head of the assault, and successfully planned and lead the remaining forces to break out, opening new fronts in Bosnia after escaping, and eventually establishing a new base there. For this reason, this battle was considered a victory by partisans because they escaped the total annihilation, and with the tiny surviving force, they eventually recovered and fight to their final victory.

    This movie is an relatively accurate portrait of the extremely difficult breaking out attempts and the eventual success of the partisan army, a technical defeat but a strategic victory. In comparison to other war flicks made in communist countries, such as that of former-USSR, Romania, Vietnam, and North Korea, this movie presented the facts that most communist regime would rather not want to talk about: the heavy casualties of communist army and its cause: the inabilities of the commanders to make the best decision at the right moment at the place.

    In the war flicks made in the other communist countries listed above, the heroes never dies, and their commanders never makes mistakes, and the enemy was always stupid and incapable. This movie honestly admits that the enemy is not only better equipped, but is equally capable if not better Tito's commanders. The German war fighting capabilities were given proper credit.

    In this sense, this movie is the Yugoslavian equivalent of The Longest Day, made in USA, in which Germans were treated as they were -- human beings and professional soldiers who did their job despite the failure of their high command. Although there are still obvious one-sided scenes due to obvious political reasons, such as the world is bleeding when a partisan was killed, the movie is far better than any others made in the communist countries and for its honest description of the history, it deserves a perfect ten.
  • In January 1943 during WWII , Yugoslavian partisans are facing German and Italian troops . German Army afraid of Allied invasion of Balkans, launched great offensive against Yugoslav Partisans in Western Bosnia , as these one battle for freedom . The only way out for Partisan forces and thousands of refugees was the bridge on the river Neretva. The name Neretva, of the film's English title The Battle of the River Neretva or The Battle of the Neretva, is a name of Illyrian origin, and is the largest river of the eastern part of the Adriatic Sea basin and is situated in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia.

    Big budget war movie contains thrills , emotion , historical events and impressive battles with a cast of thousands . However , lost continuity with excessive cuts . This movie's massive budget was personally approved by then Yugoslav president Tito. It was the first of the Yugoslav World War II film productions that were sponsored by the Yugoslav Government State and with funds provided by fifty-eight Yugoslave state . Very good main and support cast such as Yul Brynner as Vlado , Hardy Krüger as Col. Kranzer , Franco Nero as Capt. Michele Riva , Sylva Koscina as Danica , Orson Welles as Chetnik Senator , Curd Jürgens as Gen. Lohring ,Anthony Dawson and director Sergey Bondarchuk as Martin . At the time of its production, this was the most expensive film ever made in Eastern Europe ,outside the Soviet Unión . This movie was originally released at 175 minutes but was reduced by its US distributors to only 102 minutes when released in America. Atmospheric cinematography by Tomislav Pinter , though to need a good remastering . Evocative and military musical score by the classic Bernard Herrmann , Hitchcock's usual composer . Great production design and breathtaking outdoors . To shoot a railway bridge being blown-up, the movie's director, Veljko Bulajic wished to do it for real as it would, he believed, act as a tourist attraction after the shoot. A full-scale replica railway bridge was built in Jablanica and blown up but the smoke from the blasting prevented any visible and usable shots. The bridge was then repaired, re-built for a second time, and blown up again with the same result. Finally, to capture the bridge being blown up, a small-scale miniature model was used. The motion picture was regularly directed by Veljko Bulajic, including excessive cuts and some scenes with no sense . It was the most expensive Yugoslav movie ever made and taking sixteen months in production to shoot and complete.

    The picture was based on historical deeds , these are the followings : The Battle of the Neretva was a World War II battle launched by the Nazis and running between January and April 1943 in the environs of the River Neretva, Herzegovina, then Nazi German occupied Yugoslavia. The Battle was code-named Fall Weiss and was named after this neighboring Neretva River. The battle was a combined Nazi strategic plan involving Axis Allies Italy, Croatian Ustasha (Croatian Revolutionary Movement) and Chetniks (Serbian Anti-Communist Volunteer Militia) units to wipe out the Yugoslav Partisans from German Nazi occupied Yugoslavia. The battle of Neretva is also known as the Fourth Anti-Partisan Offensive; the Fourth Enemy Offensive, as well as The Battle for the Wounded.
  • There is something special about big films made in commanded economies. Because they had not only artistic but also educational and "raising national spirit" function, they were filmed with big budget and almost national participation (on more or less voluntary base)- forget Hollywood free market film.

    This film is not exception - it's one of the biggest Yugoslavian projects made with dream team - most famous and appreciated actors and actresses, respected director and episode roles of famous international stars - Yul Brynner and Orson Wells.

    The other side of the story with such films is theirs success. Most of them are to pathetic and politically made to be accepted anywhere beyond the borders of their own country. The Battle of Neretva is different - it became well accepted broad wide, mostly in third world but even is some high developed countries like Italy and even got nominated for Oscar.

    So if you got lost and somehow find yourselves on this page and wonder what kind of film this is here's the summary - expensive Yugoslavian epic story with LOT and LOT of action in less explicit but Saving Private Ryan type spiced with Partisans (good guys) vs Nazis (bad guys) story.

    Give it a chance - you may find it refreshing, original and interesting compared with Hollywood war films. Spielberg probably learned a lot watching it.
  • direhard11 April 1999
    This movie is very interesting especially because it is made in 1969. Veljko Bulajic made a very good job, with international cast even I don't like Bulajic and his movies very much. Now we have to expect his new movie "Sarajevo" without Abdulah Sidran who had to work on a screenplay. I think that he should not direct that movie. "Bitka na Neretvi" is great movie, with special effects that are better than 90% in new movies. But it was the old time in old Yugoslavia, when everything was possible even the great movies such is this. If you haven't watched it, you should, because you will be satisfied.
  • ktang_rph31 July 2001
    very good movie for world war 2 fans. there is pretty good comparison about the expression of emotions between german and the slavic people. as the previous comments, if there is a partizan get killed, the whole world is bleeding. when german colonel kranzer called host and suddently he realised that host is killed. he just supressed his emotion. this is a international movie. there are two german tiger tanks, some ex-cccp t34 tanks and us made sherman tanks. of course, the german tiger tanks are too expensive to be destroyed. most of the destroyed tanks are us made sherman tanks(cheap).
  • Allegedly the most expensive film ever undertaken by the Yugoslav film industry, The Battle Of The Neretva is a tribute to the Partisan army that Josip Broz Tito raised to resist the Nazi occupation of his country. Operating in the mountains, the Partisans proved to be tough nut to crack for the occupying Axis armies.

    The country of Yugoslavia which was created by the Allied countries at the Versailles Treaty did not long out last the man who saved it. That was once Yugoslavia is several separate states now. It was an unwieldy conglomerate nation composed of several ethnic groups with various religious backgrounds who had a legacy of Balkan hate of centuries. The Chetniks who collaborated with the Nazis just wanted to make sure they came out on top no matter who won the war. The monarchy of Yugoslavia was that of the former Serbia raised to be ruling all of what became Yugoslavia. No one who was Croatian, Montenegran, Macedonian, etc. wanted Serbian primacy. The Marxist Tito was more acceptable to most than a Serbian king.

    A lot of the politics is necessary to know in order to understand what was going on while this battle was being fought. The Germans launched an offensive in the winter of 1943 aimed at wiping out Tito's Partisans and they did drive them to the Neretva River where ordered to stand with their backs to said river offering no retreat, the Partisans turned around and instead and kicked Nazi butt.

    The Battle Of Neretva is a brutally uncompromising film about ugly guerrilla war and the version I saw is a slimmed down version. I'm betting I would have rated it higher had I seen the original 3 hours the film's release in Yugoslavia was exhibited at.

    Such various international players as Yul Brynner, Franco Nero, Orson Welles, Curt Jurgens, and Hardy Kruger all have some interesting cameos. But the stars are the Yugoslav players most of you won't know in this film. I'm sure the Oscar for Best Foreign language film is based on the Academy voters having the original to judge.

    This film is a nice tribute to a part of World War II that is not talked about too much in the west.
  • An amazing film. I have seen a 1h24 version, which is cut (you might say shot)to pieces, and it is like a Western European person's understanding of that part of the war - seen as though far away. You can't even tell the uniforms apart, which makes it all the more moving. You have no idea who is friend or foe. This is Europe tearing itself apart. And it's incomprehensible. All that's left is the terrible human (and equine - they did this on foot and on horseback) cost.

    Knowing that Yougoslavia recently went through all this again makes it even more tragic.

    The music is fabulous too.

    I think I shall try to find a full 2 hour Yougoslave version.
  • The Battle of Neretva is the most epic movie ever made in Yugoslavia. A true blockbuster with an ensemble cast which includes not only the top names of Yugoslav cinema but also world known actors like Orson Welles and Yul Brynner. It was shot on an epic scale never before seen on the Balkans including numerous extras and even two large scale replicas of the historic bridge on the river Neretva that was blown up during WWII. Until this day it is the most expensive movie to ever come out of this region. It maybe the most beautiful looking movie that came out on the Balkans with breathtaking external shots on par with Hollywood productions at the time. The musical score is timeless and the production design incredibly intricate. Add to that the movie poster which was designed by the one and only Pablo Picasso and you got yourself arguably the fondest remembered Partisan film ever.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is one of the best ex-Yugoslavian movies,and one of the greatest war-movies ever.Located in Bosnia,in year of 1943.,during the famous battle on Neretva river and magnificent victory of Tito's partisans over the Germans,Italians,chetniks(Serbian nationalists) and ustashas( Croatian nationalists),with many greats Hollywood stars,this is simply excellent. One of the strongest scenes is that when a Boy (memorable role of ten year-old Ekrem Kulaglic),a son of the old refugee,spiting on Yul Brynner,who break the bridge over Neretva. One more time :it's excellent movie!!
  • Is this the greatest Yugoslav Partisan film or not. This movies is like Rambo before Rambo. Full of Action.Love and Drama. Some will say it is a propaganda movie by Tito but that is because they do not like the movie. Absolutely worth 2 hours and 46 minutes. If you have a free Sunday give this movie a go. Movie about the Heroism that were Yugoslav Partizans.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is a great and historic movie!

    This is the kind of great war documentary/movie that most people outside this particular language/nation/area rarely get to see because it's not 'Hollywood.' Also, for lack of a better word...it's 'foreign' to most...uncommon. The same with Poland's "Katyn"(2007); Italy's "Torpedo Zone"(1955); and, many others...The Netherlands' "Soldier of Orange"(1977).

    Although these 'same' T-34 Russian tanks converted into Tiger 1 German tanks, and, American Sherman tanks, are in the same movie (as well as the American M3 half-tracks converted to German Sd.Kfz. 251s), because it's a Hollywood production 'filmed in Yugoslavia,' everyone in the world can see "Kelly's Heroes"(1970); but, rarely this great movie. Just as everyone can see Hollywood's "Battle of the Bulge"(1965) and "Patton"(1970) (both filmed 'mainly' in Spain) that use the same tanks...because it's big-budget Hollywood. Hollywood is great, but, it sometimes leaves equally great non-Hollywood movies behind, and, sadly forgotten.

    To me, this is likely the best eastern European war documentary/movie production ever. The German movie "Stalingrad"(1993), filmed in Germany, Finland, Czech Republic, and, Italy, is another sadly 'forgotten great.'

    As per national budget at that time, this movie's ranks up there with "Doctor Zhivago"(1965); "Lawrence of Arabia"(1963); "The Guns of Navarone"(1961); "The Sand Pebbles"(1966); and, "A Bridge Too Far"(1977).

    This movie even has an international 'Hollywood' movie-making cast - Yul Brynner and Oleg Vidov(Russia); Hardy Kruger and Curt Jürgens (Germany); Franco Nero(Italy); Orson Wells(USA); Sergey Bondarchuk(Ukraine); Sylva Koscino(Croatia); and, Anthony Dawson(Scotland). Despite this...this great movie isn't nearly as famous as similar Hollywood movies that take place in 'Yugoslavia' like "Force 10 From Navarone."

    If you're a World War II buff who likes to see every aspect of that war, even the lesser-known parts...see this.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    There were quite a few pro-Partisan Yugoslavian WWII films to come out of the Balkans during the 1960s and 1970s but THE BATTLE ON THE RIVER NERETVA is definitely the biggest and most expensive, the result of a collaboration between West Germany, America and Italy, as well as Yugoslavia itself. The film proudly shows its budget from the very beginning, as it is as packed with as much action and battling as you could want from any war movie. The film takes the format of having lots of different sub-plots with different characters, sub-plots which play out against numerous skirmishes and battles as Yugoslavian refugees attempt to flee across the titular bridge and are hounded by the Nazis, the Italians and even Fascist Yugoslavians at every turn. The action scenes in the film are largely authentic, with planes bombing all over the place, tank attacks and plenty of machine-gun firing on the battlefields. The Yugoslavian scenery, snowy and rugged, is put to very good usage and only adds to the realism of the movie.

    Unfortunately, the storyline is little more than an "us vs. them" narrative and it remains difficult to engage with many of the leading players due to the fragmented nature of the plot. Additionally, while the non-Yugoslavian cast members are easy to spot, many Yugoslavians play the young male heroes and it is often difficult to tell them apart – or even tell who they are! The film benefits from three massive Hollywood stars imported from America to add to the spectacle. Curd Jurgens is the Nazi commander, but unfortunately for him he's relegated to a desk role, never leaving his office through the movie; at least his scenes were easy to shoot then. Also on hand is an elderly-looking but stern Orson Welles playing a Chetnik senator who comes off worst in the battle with his own general, and finally we have Yul Brynner, star billed but hardly in the movie, excellent as an engineer responsible for rigging explosives all over the landscape. Brynner is always wicked and of course he ends up as the best thing in the film, it's just a shame that we end up seeing so little of him for much of it.

    A number of Italian actors and actresses have also been imported into the scenery, revealing the influence that Italy had in this film's production. Former peplum actress Sylva Koscina gets to wield a gun and act tough for a change while Howard Ross is as dependable as ever. Italian film regular Hardy Kruger also pops up and, given his nationality, you can guess he's on the Nazi side. Best of all is Franco Nero, playing an Italian general who ends up defecting to the other side when he sees the devastation left by the Nazis; Nero is as blue-eyed and heroic as ever and he gets to engage in a great protracted death scene, including a shot of him hanging over a wooden cross, complete with bloodied hands, which is a neat homage to Django.

    Other than the lack of a main storyline, the major problem with the film is the running time, which means that some scenes – definitely around the saggy middle – become a bit boring, especially when there's no actual fighting going on. However things pick up for a rousing climax in which lots of the good guys die their heroic, touching deaths and the Nazis are bombed to hell!
  • My first thought was that this is the Yugoslavian edition of...well, basically any western WWII movies. But this would not be 100% true, plus every war story is unique, and we must respect that. So I'm reviewing Bitka na Neretvi as if it wasn't influenced by other WWII titles (which again: isn't the reality either). So it's the partisans (communist rebels) facing off against the Germans and their allies. As a background information, we must know the fights against the civil population on the Balkans really got nasty in the war. If someone from the locals threw a hand grenade killing a soldier, multiple civilians got massacred by the Nazis. It means the Yugoslavs had a good reason for wanting to glorify their heroes. It must have been very annoying to see all the western movies being released about various world war deeds, but they didn't have their own (though they had numerous stories about total war to tell). All these feelings manifested in this movie, a superproduction of the time. They contracted a handful of worldwide stars for the main roles, and they did well! Sergey Bondarchuk felt so natural in every sketch as "father" of the soldiers. Then there is Hardy Krüger, the German general - the most German man they could find on the piece of Earth (actual Nazis unfortunately died or were too old by the time of filming). Brynner, Dawson, Welles also were magnificent: I'm sure money wasn't the sole reason motivating them to take part in the creation of this movie. However, the Yugoslavian actors...some of them were fine, but the more minor the role got, the stupider they looked on the screen. At some crowd scenes you can clearly notice something is wrong...the people just wander around like in a zombie movie. Unless it's a crowd scene with horses - those are breathtaking without a doubt. Speaking of horses, I'm not sure this would qualify for the "no animals were harmed in the making" stamp - lots of brutal battle scenes and fantastic control of the animals, not to mention the bridge - I really appreciated that, can't see action like that in today's films. Costumes and sets are fine, as far as I can tell they looked authentic. I don't know if they had luck with the snow and weather during filming, but even with the mediocre cinematography the locations seem rather beautiful. One thing: the woman protagonist's makeup and hair. I don't want to disclose too much info, to avoid spoilers, but it was a big negative for me - it's like she stepped out of some kind of '60s shampoo advert, not a WWII production. Again: something that shows the Yugoslavs inexperience with feature films. The main line in the storytelling is rather straightforward and easy to follow, but the side stories sometimes get a bit shaky. I'm not sure it was a good decision to try and feature all off these aspects in this short playtime. Still, in the end I stood up satisfied: this is a war movie to watch for any war movie enthusiast and probably the best one about the Balkan battlefield.
  • What more can I say? I first found this movie when I was living in

    New Hampshire back in 1985. The film has Orson Welles as a Royalist Cetnik senator, and there are other characters. It's about the Partisans' attempt to cross the Neretva River before the

    Germans blow up the last bridge. The Partisans left no one

    behind. Not even their wounded. They also had refugees with

    them and they all had to get across the river before the Germans blow the bridge. They also have to contend with the Italians and a regiment of Cetnik Cavalry. Why are the Germans about to blow

    the last bridge across the Neretva? Because they're afraid of an Allied invasion of the Balkans. It's January 1943 and the Germans are afraid that the Allies are going to invade the Balkans, which

    they never did, but still, they have to isolate the Partisans. Blowing the last bridge over the Neretva would do that. Do the Germans

    blow the bridge or do the Partisans escape before the bridge is

    blown? Do you think I'm an idiot? I'm not telling. You have to see

    this movie for yourself.
  • This is one of those rare times when I'm watching a non-Hollywood war movie. This is also the first time I'm watching a movie from Yugoslavia/Serbia/ whatever. The movie is supposedly based on real life events. I don't know how much of truth is in this movie. I have to admit that I don't have too much knowledge about this part of history.

    The special effects look solid. The acting is quite good . The cast includes Yul Brynner ("Magnificent seven") , Orson Welles ("Citizen Kane") and Franco Nero ("Django"). I liked that the movie shows how ordinary people are suffering during the war.

    The movie is long , too long (2 hours 40 minutes). The pacing is rather bad. The biggest problem however is the screenplay. The characters aren't well defined. The movie also terribly jumps from one scene to other leaving the viewer confused. For example in one scene a character is trying to destroy tanks with mines. It seems like an important mission. However we never get to see the result of his actions. The story moves to another subplot and later we see the same character on another mission. How did that earlier mission ended ? We don't get any information. The movie jumps from one character to another without really exploring any of them. I couldn't really care about anybody here. The movie is has bits of communistic propaganda in it.

    The movie also looks kinda ugly. The copy I saw was of rather bad quality. The sound was very loud while the colors were changing constantly. It made an already bad movie experience even worse.

    I felt tired after this movie and I definitely don't want to see it again in the future. Not the worst war movie I've seen , but there are far better and more enjoyable movies other there. I give it 3/10.
  • Battle of neretva is for me the best Yugoslavian war film,true i havent seen all of them and there are also some great films like Sutjeska and Kozara but this one was something else to me,the big praise i give to this film is that it looks very different from others war films but it also has that star power in it and it fells like it was made by hollywood studios during that times,cast was brilliant and full of great foreign stars like Brynner,Wells and Nero but also with great Yugoslavian stars ,like Ljubisa Samardic

    ic,Bata zivojnovic,Fabijan sovagovic and Boris ,Battle of Neretva was a great war that showed how World War 2 was fought on many fronts and not just on Normandy,Japan or seas ,it it had also some good filmed action in it
  • Hmm....don't like this Yugoslav warflick all that much. Story + acting is hard to feel interested in and it's too gloryfying of the Yugoslavian resistance battling Chechtnics + Germans. Ok...some of the battlescenes are well staged with good explosions and bullits whipping up dirt, etc...Rather chaotic and a little intense. But whenever a partizan is killed or wounded, we are forced to feel ooohh sooooo sad...like if the whole wide world is bleeding/crying.. Irritating as h...!! Orson Welles gets a few bullets in his (f..) belly and tumbles to the ground. Great stunt !!!! Also there's a fine little homage to Sergio Corbucci's DJANGO. We see Franco Nero clutching to a cross with bloodied hands and a "sick" expression on his face. Danish tape runs 126.45 mins...letterboxed about 1:1.70