Movie Reviews - Featured Films » Epic Films - Wartime

A Bridge Too Far Movie Review

lieut col sense film

1977 – Richard Attenborough –

A bit too big, in some ways A Bridge Too Far is a magnificent war movie about the defeat of the Allied forces at Arnheim in World War II. The troops attempt a daring invasion of the German factories in the Ruhr to inhibit Germany's ability to produce armaments. The problems with the film are those that can easily weaken historical or wartime epics: a large cast of famous faces playing characters involved in intersecting plots at various strategic locations can eventually create a plodding or confusing effect. As the Allies' advance targets three bridges, the preparations and assault take the viewer from one command post to another with a dizzying sense of disorientation at times, robbing the movie of some dramatic coherence. Based on Cornelus Ryan's epic novel, the film integrates newsreel footage of battles with staged conflicts, sometimes with less than effective results.

The film is anchored by the famous stars who turn in effective performances. Anthony Hopkins plays a brash leader of troops at the Arnheim bridge. Sean Connery, Ryan O'Neal, and Gene Hackman are strong in their parts as commanders of various outfits involved in the assault. Maybe the most interesting performance of all comes from Robert Redford as Major Cook. During a river crossing through a barrage of fire, he provides the best look into the heart of a soldier as he leads his men, paddles the boat with the butt of his rifle, and repeats “Hail Marys.” It is a fine portrayal of a sense of duty overcoming a sense of fear.

The sound effects realistically create the sense of war in a number of ways. The filmmakers obtain fine results by including authentic-seeming details: during the shelling the clanking of the brass casings being ejected from the cannons combines with the continual blasts of the explosions. The magnificent experience of the parachute drop is intensified by a rich sound montage of the rustle of the cords coming out of the door on the C-47s and banging against the side of the plane. Such attention to the finer points of sound matches in its immediacy the shot in which the audience sees the plane from the viewpoint of the man going out the door and into his fall. Though its epic dimensions lead to some wobbly plotting, A Bridge Too Far offers some pleasant, smaller moments.

Cast: Dirk Bogarde (Lieut. Gen. Frederich “Boy” Browning), Paul Maxwell (Major General Maxwell Taylor), Sean Connery (Major General Urquhart), Ryan O'Neal (Brigadier General Gavin), Gene Hackman (Maj. General Stanislaw Sosabowski), Walter Kohut (Field Marshal Model), Peter Faber (Captain Harry Bestebreutje), Hartman Becker (German Sentry), Frank Grimes (Major Fuller), Donald Pickering (RAF Briefing Officer), Edward Fox (Lieutenant General Horrocks), Michael Caine (Lieut. Col. Joe Vandeleur), Michael Byrne (Lieut. Col. Giles Vandeleur), Anthony Hopkins (Lieut. Col. John Frost), James Caan (Staff Sgt. Dohun), Maximilian Schell (Lieut. Gen. Brittich), Liv Ulmann (Kate Ter Horst), Elliot Gould (Col. Stout), Denholm Elliott (RAF Meteorological Officer), Laurence Olivier (Dr. Spaander), Robert Redford (Maj. Julian Cook), John Ratzenburger (US Lieutenant), Siem Vroom (Underground Leader), Marlies Van Alcmaer (Underground Leader's Wife), Eric Van't Wout (Underground Leader's Son), Wolfgang Preiss (Field Marshal Von Rundstedt), Hans von Borsody (General Blumentritt), Josephine Peeper (Cafe Waitress) Screenwriter: William Goldman Cinematographer: Geoffrey Unsworth, Harry Waxman, Robin Browne Composer: John Addison Producer: Joseph E. Levine and John Palmer for United Artists MPAA Rating: PG Running Time: 176 minutes Format: VHS, LV Awards: British Academy Awards, 1977: Supporting Actor (Edward Fox); National Film Critics Awards, 1977: Supporting Actor (Edward Fox) Budget: $24M Box Office: $20M.

The Bridges at Toko–Ri Movie Review [next] [back] The Bridge on the River Kwai Movie Review

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or