HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Harpoon
Great Northfield Minnesota Raid, The
Dark Phoenix
No Mercy
Arctic
Fate of Lee Khan, The
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Ladyworld
Rocketman
Kid Who Would Be King, The
Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound
America America
Darkest Minds, The
Along Came Jones
Hummingbird Project, The
Under the Table You Must Go
Harry Birrell Presents Films of Love and War
Hanging Tree, The
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Scooby-Doo! Camp Scare
Itsy Bitsy
Witchmaker, The
Prey, The
If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium
Happy Death Day 2U
Full Moon High
Strange But True
Kamikaze 1989
Never Grow Old
Time of Your Life, The
Mountain Men, The
Epic
Best Before Death
John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum
Isabelle
Non-Stop New York
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood
Oblomov
Alita: Battle Angel
We the Animals
   
 
Newest Articles
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
Shit-Eating Grim: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom on Blu-ray
Stallone's 80s Action Alpha and Omega: Nighthawks and Lock Up
Python Prehistory: At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD
You Could Grow to Love This Place: Local Hero on Blu-ray
Anglo-American: Joseph Losey Blu-ray Double Bill - The Criminal and The Go-Between
Marvel's Least Loved and Most Loved: Fantastic 4 vs Avengers: Endgame
Battle of the Skeksis: The Dark Crystal Now and Then
American Madness: Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss on Blu-ray
Flight of the Navigator and the 80s Futurekids
Trains and Training: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 13 on DVD
Holiday from Hell: In Bruges on Blu-ray
The Comedy Stylings of Kurt Russell: Used Cars and Captain Ron
Robot Rocked: The Avengers Cybernauts Trilogy on Blu-ray
Hammer's Bloodthirsty Bad Girls 1970: Lust for a Vampire and Countess Dracula
Hammer to Fall: Kiss Me Deadly on Blu-ray
Home of the Grave: The House That Dripped Blood and Asylum on Blu-ray
Wondrous Women: Supergirl vs Captain Marvel
   
 
  Charge of the Light Brigade, The Cannon to the left of them, Cannon to the rightBuy this film here.
Year: 1968
Director: Tony Richardson
Stars: Trevor Howard, David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave, John Gielgud, Harry Andrews, Jill Bennett, Peter Bowles, Ben Aris, Helen Cherry, Howard Marion-Crawford, T.P. McKenna, Donald Wolfit
Genre: Comedy, Drama, War, Weirdo, Historical
Rating:  8 (from 2 votes)
Review: While the British cavalry’s ill-fated charge during the Crimean War in 1854 was famously enshrined in that poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson and the subject of the gung-ho (to say nothing of historically inaccurate) 1936 Hollywood movie directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Errol Flynn, this audacious 1968 version re-envisions the conflict for a generation mired in Vietnam and mistrustful of authority. It is a marvellously ambitious, sadly unsung and still controversial British masterpiece.

On the eve of the British empire’s entry into the war, following the Russian invasion of Turkey, dashing, young Captain Nolan (David Hemmings) attends the wedding of a close friend and is unexpectedly smitten with his wife, Clarissa (Vanessa Redgrave). While the landed gentry wrestle with romantic feelings in rural England, across the filthy slums of Victorian London a loquacious drill sergeant lures working class lads to enlist for the next “great” war. Scrubbed and suited, housed in festering barracks, they are brutalized into a fighting unit whilst elderly upper-class officers reminisce fondly about the glory days at Waterloo. The intelligent and educated Nolan instantly clashes with his superior, Lord Cardigan (Trevor Howard), a bombastic buffoon whose swaggering self-importance and sense of entitlement stems solely from class and rank. As the Victorian propaganda machine - illustrated in a series of brilliant animated sequences drawn in the vintage style of the satirical magazine Punch - whips the public into a frenzy, Lord Raglan (John Gielgud), Lord Lucan (Harry Andrews) and Lord Cardigan lead a gargantuan British force into the sweltering Turkish heat, squabbling every step of the way. Despite Nolan’s best efforts, a combination of poor judgement and sheer bloody-mindedness climaxes with Cardigan leading the Light Brigade right into disaster.

Hugely ambitious, The Charge of the Light Brigade paints a panoramic satire of an affluent, world-dominating society riding for a fall amidst a foolish, ill-managed war, and as such is certainly timely today. Tony Richardson, working from a screenplay written by Charles Wood (from a first draft penned by an uncredited John Osborne) lays the blame squarely on the aging, ego-inflated establishment embodied by Cardigan, Raglan and Lucan. The film is driven by a towering performance from Trevor Howard. He plays Cardigan as a pompous peacock, blithely ignorant all else besides his self-deluding ego, an indestructible imbecile who rides his horse over strewn corpses to a secure future while everyone sane and sensible gets blown to smithereens. John Gielgud is memorable as the half-deaf and semi-senile Lord Raglan, who has trouble remembering they’re fighting alongside and not against the French. These men treat war like a big game of toy soldiers and are still squabbling even while the blood-drenched survivors limp off the battlefield, passing guilt around like a hot potato until one nameless adjutant gets stuck with the blame.

Tony Richardson’s film failed to match the international success enjoyed by his similarly freewheeling Tom Jones (1963) and even today, opinion is divided between those who consider it a glorious failure and those for whom its broad satire and knockabout style comes too close Monty Python and risks making a mockery of an important subject. This claim is untrue, since the film is far too literate and though the romantic subplot amounts to little, its idealism is sincere and affecting. Although the screenplay comes close to portraying the historically haughty and impulsive Captain Nolan as a saint, David Hemmings conveys so much with his wounded eyes.

One oft-repeated criticism centres on the portrayal of Mrs. Fanny Dubberly (Jill Bennett), the wife of a lisping officer (Peter Bowles), who is portrayed as a twittering war groupie whom Cardigan coolly romps with in bed. Novelist George Macdonald Fraser is among those who have stressed there is no historical evidence to support such slander, but the scene is an aspect of the film’s overall indictment of Victorian hypocrisy and furthermore is a riotous bit of cracked comedy, well played by Bennett and Howard. Also, Mr. and Mrs. Dubberly’s subdued revulsion at the sight of the bedraggled cavalrymen is quietly powerful.

The musical animated sequences directed by Richard Williams - later behind the Oscar-winning A Christmas Carol (1969) and oft-underrated Raggedy Ann & Andy (1977) - are marvellous. Ranging from a ballet dancing Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, to a muscular British lion clad in the union jack punching the Russian bear on the nose, they are more than mere gimmickry and ably underline the film’s satirical intent. David Watkin’s photography ranks among the best of its era, going from the soft-focus idyll of rural England to the dust and heat of Gibraltar. Though still more celebrated for his kitchen sink dramas, Tony Richardson - whose daughter, the late Natasha Richardson made her debut in this movie at age four - brilliantly handles the battle scenes where things turn from farce to horror as all that foolish pomp and pageantry is cut down by Russian guns (ironically enough, stolen from the British side!).

And yet, history is such a nebulous thing. Revisionists now insist Lord Cardigan’s charge was neither foolhardy nor calamitous but a brave attempt to rescue the day. Which bizarrely implies the Errol Flynn movie got it right. See both versions and judge for yourself.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 3854 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: