A poster for this film was made by Pablo Picasso, and it was only one of two movie posters he made. He did it because he was a fan of Yugoslav films and, according to people who were involved in the production, he did not ask for money for the poster--all he wanted was a case of Yugoslavia's finest wines.
When a railway bridge was to be blown up, director Veljko Bulajic wanted it to look as real as possible, and thought that it would serve 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 blast 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.
Three members of the cast played Bond villains in Bond movies: Curd Jürgens was Stromberg in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Orson Welles was Le Chiffre in Casino Royale (1967)--they can be seen together acting in the same scene--and Anthony Dawson played Ernst Stavro Blofeld in Thunderball (1965) and From Russia with Love (1963).
This movie's massive budget was personally approved by then Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito. It was the first of the Yugoslav World War II film productions to be sponsored by the Yugoslav government and with funds provided by 58 Yugoslav state companies.
This movie was originally released at 175 minutes but was reduced by its US distributors to 102 minutes.
Soviet T-34 tanks were re-designed to look like German Tiger I tanks for this movie.
Despite its all-star cast and the huge popularity of World War II films at the UK box office, this never got a British release.
The building of the railway bridge, which was 400 feet long, took several months and involved engineers and explosives experts from a number of countries.
As the film was heavily re-edited for international release, Bernard Herrmann (Psycho, Vertigo) was commissioned to write an alternative score. The complete 175 minute Yugoslav version features a score by a local composer.
At the time of its production, this was the most expensive film ever made in Eastern Europe (outside the Soviet Union).
The real Battle of the Neretva was a World War II battle launched by the Nazis and lasted from January and April 1943 in the environs of the River Neretva, Herzegovina, which at the time was part of German-occupied Yugoslavia. The battle was code-named Fall Weiss and was named after the neighboring Neretva River. The battle involved German and Italian troops, Croatian Ustasha (Revolutionary Movement) fighters and Chetnik (Serbian Anti-Communist Volunteer Militia) units in a joint operation to eliminate Yugoslav partisans (anti-Nazi and anti-fascist guerrilla fighters) from Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia. The battle is also known as the Fourth Anti-Partisan Offensive; the Fourth Enemy Offensive and The Battle for the Wounded.
English titles for this movie are confusing; it is known as "Battle of Neretva"; "Battle on the River Neretva"; "The Battle of Neretva"; "Battle of the River Neretva"; "The Battle on the River Neretva"; "The Battle of the Neretva"; and "The Battle of the River Neretva".
Yul Brynner (Yvan Vlado) and Orson Welles (Chetnik senator) both died on the same day: October 10, 1985.
The name "Neretva" in the title is of Illyrian origin, and refers to the largest river of the eastern part of the Adriatic Sea basin and is situated in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia. It runs from its source at Lebrnik and the Zelengora Mountains in the Dinaric Alps of Bosnia and Herzegovina to its mouth at the Adriatic Neretva Delta at Ploce, Dubrovnik-Neretva County, Croatia.