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A Bridge Too Far
A Bridge Too Far - Novel by Cornelius Ryan
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A Bridge Too Far Review

Directed By: Richard Attenborough.
Starring: Dirk Bogarde, James Caan, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Edward Fox, Robert Redford, Elliot Gould, Maximillian Schell, Laurence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins, Ryan O'Neal, Gene Hackman, Liv Ullman.

Synopsis: Attenborough's ambitious, all-star adaptation (by William Goldman) of Cornelius Ryan's book, gives an account of the Battle of Arnhem. In 1944, the Allied powers attempt to expedite the end of the war with a costly operation to capture six bridges connecting Holland to Germany ended in Allied defeat. A multitude of notables star in Attenborough's epic.

I'm a big William Goldman fan (screenwriter) and as such have endured his best (The Princess Bride) and his worst (The Ghost and The Darkness...which I actually liked...sigh). I have also read (I think) every book on screen writing he has put out. I love his easy, laid back approach of talking to the reader, the anecdotes and behind the scenes stories he tells. In his first book, Adventures in the Screentrade he discusses the production of the movie...

...he talks about the producer Joseph E. Levine putting his own money on the line at the age of 70...he talks about a single hour of shooting on the Nijmegen Bridge that had it gone wrong would have cost a million dollars (and this is back in the 70's remember)...and he talks about how the American Critics for the most part, basted the film when it came out because the stories told within seemed, outlandish and unbelievable...or as Goldman puts it, they were 'too real to be real'.

So with this in mind I sat down and re-watched A Bridge Too Far, the last time I has seen it I was about fifteen. I liked it more now, but still found other things unsettling about the film that have nothing to do with Goldman's defences. In terms of stories being told, some felt unfinished.

For example, Jimmy Caan's sub-story of saving his Captain and forcing a doctor to operate on him ends an hour before the film does. Where does Jimmy go? What is next? Anything? A lot of moments like this occur...characters that one gets to know and like begin to disappear. We know Anthony Hopkins is captured? Does he live ...well yes, but I know that because I read Goldman's book. Now I am torn because you can go with the typical, they should have had a sum-up ending where they tell what happens to the characters...but that is such a tired device...and perhaps this is all the point of Goldman's script. He told the story as it happened as much as he could...and we all know how the War ended...that should be good enough.

It is fun to watch the film and see Stars come in and out when necessary...no ego's...i.e. Robert Redford's character doesn't even appear in the first hour of the movie.

Also amazing to watch are all the battle scenes, the air drops and realize...no CGI. Not a single frame is CGI, the did these drops...hell, they had camera men doing the drops to get some unique angles. Amazing stuff. Also, the swearing is minimal so by the time Caan does get to threaten the doc by 'blowing his fucking head off'. The language makes it seem all the more dangerous.

Funny thing though, originally the film was rated 'R' by the MPAA for strong language, it was lowered to 'PG' upon appeal...how things have changed.

All in all, re-visiting it was interesting, seeing John Ratzenberger (Cliff Clavin from Cheers) in a small role was amusing, some great stories and different performances, though I never quite get used to Gene Hackman doing an accent I give the movie three stars for the scope and audacity of it all and another half star for actually encouraging me to read Cornelius Ryan's book on the topic.

Copyright© DVDwolf.com
Copyright© Written By: Rob Paul



DVD Information:

Special Features:
Interactive Menus
8-Page Booklet Featuring Trivia, Production Notes and a Revealing Look at the Making of the Film
Original Theatrical Trailer

Video: Widescreen 2.35:1 (Anamorphic)

Audio:
ENGLISH: Dolby Digital Surround [CC]
FRENCH: Dolby Digital Mono

The DVD Review:

Sadly, the DVD offers very little. No featurette on the making of, no commentary...like the issuing of 12 O'Clock High just a few trailers intended to boost sales of other war movies available on DVD. Sad, but true.

At least they included a little booklet that details some making of aspects, but again, a featurette would have been nicer. However, for the cost of the DVD (usually under $12 U.S.) that's a fair deal.

Evil Ash

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