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The Charge of the Light Brigade

77 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

From director Tony Richardson (Tom Jones) comes this brilliant retelling of tragic events during the Crimean War. Starring Trevor Howard, John Gielgud, David Hemmings and Vanessa Redgrave, this epic political satire is an "impressive achievement" (Boxoffice) that will forever be revered as movie making at its best. British Captain Nolan (Hemmings) is a devoted officer disgusted with his commander, Lord Cardigan (Howard). Lord Raglan (Gielgud) is a foolish officer with misguided war strategies and a fading memory. Together, they are sent to Turkey in response to a Russian invasion. Driven by arrogance and ineptitude, they send hundreds of cavalry to certain death in aclimax that is both "harrowing [and] magnificent" (Time).


Tony Richardson's film about the colossal Crimean War blunder combines his sociopolitical anger with the splendors of a David Lean epic for a fascinating artifact of that boiling-point protest year, 1968. Like America's contemporaneous Vietnam War, Britain's mid-19th-century conflict with Russia in defense of Turkey made less sense the deeper they sank into it; John Gielgud's Lord Raglan keeps referring absentmindedly to the enemy as "the French"! Aside from a peripheral romantic triangle involving apparently the single sane officer in Her Majesty's army (David Hemmings), his friend (Mark Burns), and the friend's wife (Vanessa Redgrave--Mrs. Richardson), the film is really about the profoundly jingoistic Victorian imagination; transitional animation sequences by Richard Williams seem to plunge us directly into the British national psyche. Somewhat muddled as drama, but irresistibly persuasive in its historical detail and stunning camerawork (David Watkin, Chariots of Fire), The Charge of the Light Brigade is a prime candidate for rediscovery. --Richard T. Jameson

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Trevor Howard, Vanessa Redgrave, John Gielgud, Harry Andrews, Jill Bennett
  • Directors: Tony Richardson
  • Writers: Charles Wood, John Osborne
  • Producers: Neil Hartley
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: May 7, 2002
  • Run Time: 139 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000062XEW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,050 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Charge of the Light Brigade" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Octavius on July 27, 2004
Format: DVD
Tony Richardson's 1968 satire of Victorian imperialism set during the Crimean War of 1854-1855. A clever film with subtle humor that is very rich in covering the details of Victorian society such as clothing, mannerisms, class structure, institutions, etc. Although it has somewhat of an uneven plot with strange editing, this film is very well acted with beautiful cinematography.

The film is primarily a satirical tragedy as opposed to being an action-drama typical of your standard war films such as 'Saving Private Ryan' for example. The film therefore mostly focuses on the characters' development within their social ranks, how they interact with each other, and what effect their interactions have on society or on them collectively. The film follows the central character, Captain Lewis Edward Nolan of the 15th Hussars. Nolan is a historical character who was a veteran of the wars in India and on very bad terms with his commander, Lord Cardigan (Howard), a boorish man with little concern for his suboordinates. Captain Nolan is also best friends with Mr. Richardson (Mark Burns) and, unfortunately, more than best friends with Mrs. Richardson(Vanessa Redgrave.) Both Nolan and Richardson are longing to see some action with their cavalry regiment and their wishes are soon fulfilled when war breaks out with Russia. Under the command of Earl Lucan and Cardigan (who both hate each other immensely), they are shipped off to the Crimea to join the French and the Turks against the Russians.

Again, the title of the film is somewhat deceptive as the legendary charge of the light brigade takes up but the last 15 minutes of the 2+ hour film. Interestingly enough, the duration of the film battle sequence is about the same length as the actual charge: less than 20 minutes.
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96 of 110 people found the following review helpful By Judd Fence on August 18, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
I remember the day I stopped reading the New York Times, and also realized that most film revivers did NOT have a clue... and that�s when I read the review for Tony Richardson�s �Charge Of The Light Brigade�. The Times Reviewer, a first stage imbecile went on and on about "how Richardson could have made such a glorification of war during the height of the View Nam conflict!" Was this man blind, or did he just sit in some bar drinking his lunch while the film was screen? For Light Brigade is perhaps the greatest ANTI-WAR movie ever made! I could go on for pages about this movie. One of the most amazing aspects is Charles Woods�s screenplay. It is without a doubt the greatest piece of film writing ever. Now that�s a big statement� but I promise you� it�s not an exaggeration. From the very first speech of Trevor Howard, through scene after scene of perfect craftsmanship and dialogue, you are bombarded with a sumptuous love affair of the English language. Add to that one of the most opulently shot period movies this side of Barry Lyndon, and the most amazing animation sequences by Richard Williams (and for the love of God� if you still think this is a pro war movie after those sequences, you really need to be locked away for your own safety!)� and you have a cinema treat the likes of which you will find hard pressed to see anywhere else. From the first bars of John Addison�s quirky emotionally charged, purposely overly blown score, to Williams animated lion�s roar� to the last staggering image of the decapitated horses, silently rotting away in the �Valley of Death�, as only the sounds of flies can be heard� you realize you are watching greatest. You also realize you are watching history the way it really was.Read more ›
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Raymond J. Elliston on October 17, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
Following closely on the heels of ZULU (1965), THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE (1968) ushered in an era of unparalleled brilliance in war movie-making. Anyone who has read Tennyson's poem of the same name, or read John Harris' book THE GALLANT SIX HUNDRED will appreciate this film for its depiction of both the battle and of British Army life at the time. The technical detail is impeccable and, despite the obvious use of satire, the film is remarkably true to history. It vividly portrays the contrasting social circumstances of the officers and the rank and file soldiers, and the inextricable bond between them. The officers genuinely believed they had been born to lead and the soldiers followed them unquestioningly because of their personal courage and example rather than any demonstrated skill in the art of war. The courage, endurance and stoicism of the British soldier in the field is accurately rendered, carefully maintaining the simple dignity of those who were most responsible for the spread of Empire throughout the world. Everything else in the film obviously leads to the grand finale, the magnificently futile charge up the valley into the face of the Russian guns. The filming and choreography are amazing, replete with small details that have been recorded elsewhere through survivor interviews and the memoires of witnesses and participants. This is a MUST see for anyone interested in military history, or just epic war movies.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Greg Bardwell on June 3, 2002
Format: DVD
Tony Richardson's classic Charge of the Light Brigade is a definitive version of the most famous military blunder of Britains military history. Closely drawn from Cecil Woodham-Smith's "The Reason Why", it is a perfect social and military analysis of the military and officer class structures, and a darkly amusing parody of the political forces which motivated Britain to the Crimean War. Satirical animated sequences drawn from the political cartoons from the contemporary nineteenth century "Punch" magazine are used to close one act and open another throughout the movie - a highly entertaining and unique feature in cinema. The casting is superb, particularly Harry Andrews as Lord Lucan and Trevor Howard as Lord Cardigan. Outstanding performances are given by all - Sir John Gielgud as Lord Raglan and of course David Hemmings as Captain Nolan, the tragic anti-hero and oneof the prime suspects in the commission of enquiry into who was to blame.
Technically I find the movie flawless. The uniforms were all designed for the movie and the wide-screen DVD format shows the scale of production to wonderful effect. The guns recoil properly as if they were actually being fired and the obscuring smoke of the battle at Alma are shown to true effect. Some films are done right and others not. If you had problems with the battle scenes and staging of "The Patriot" but thought that "Last of the Mohicans" got it right, then you can be assured that this movie, being more like the latter then the former, got it right.
I believe that no one will make another version, nor ought to. This account of the Crimean campaign and Balaclava will never be bettered and will stand the test of time as the truly definative work on the subject.
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