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The Big Red One - The Reconstruction (Two-Disc Special Edition)

4.0 out of 5 stars 277 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

DVD Features:
Audio Commentary
Documentaries
Photo gallery
TV Spot
Theatrical Trailer

Amazon.com

Sam Fuller's The Big Red One was already one of the best films of 1980, despite the fact that the version released to theaters ran barely half as long as the director's cut. Fuller had been America's ballsiest B-movie auteur, an ex-newspaper reporter of the hardnosed breed who made fiercely personal, radically stylized, and politically outspoken films between the early '50s (The Steel Helmet, Pickup on South Street) and the early '60s (Shock Corridor). The Big Red One was his long-dreamt-of account of World War II as experienced by his own squad of the 1st Infantry Division, USA, from the first shot fired (by a dead man, on the coast of North Africa) to the last (in a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia).

Even in the studio-truncated version, there was no shortage of astonishing moments and sequences: the squad choking on dust in a bat-filled cave in North Africa as German tanks clatter past the entrance; Fuller's cold-blooded distillation of the D-Day slaughter on Omaha Beach, with a wrist watch on a dead arm in the surf marking time as the water slopping over it grows redder; the rifle squad delivering a Frenchwoman's baby in a German tank on a battlefield full of corpses; a commando-like raid on Nazi troops bivouacked in a Belgian insane asylum. A quarter-century later, film critic Richard Schickel and Warner Bros. executive Brian Jamieson succeeded in restoring 15 never-seen sequences and fleshing out 23 others to create The Big Red One: The Reconstruction, a "new" film nearly an hour longer.

Above all, BR1: The Reconstruction has a rhythm the 1980 cut lacked. The arc of years, battles, and battlegrounds is so much more satisfying. Greater play is given to Fuller's feeling for children caught up in the sidewash of history and atrocity. And the 2004 cut puts sex back into the movie, not orgiastically but as a fact of life and a rarely forgotten driving force. We can see now that Fuller touched, bluntly and shockingly, on the phenomenon of infiltrators--English-speaking German warriors who donned GI khaki and moved among their enemies waiting for a chance to strike.

It's also apparent, as it was not in 1980, that Lee Marvin as the eternal Sergeant leading the young squad is magnificent. This was Marvin's greatest role, rivaled only by his walking dead man in John Boorman's Point Blank. Just beneath the masterly implacability, we glimpse the tenderness, rage, dark humor, experience, and wisdom beyond guilt that have enabled him to survive, to preserve others and to soldier on. His performance, like Fuller's film, is a masterpiece. --Richard T. Jameson


Special Features

  • Over 40 minutes of added footage
  • Alternate scenes
  • Anatomy of a Scene: Watch the director at work and examine the before/after restoration comparisons
  • New documentary The Real Glory: Reconstructing The Big One
  • Profile: The Men Who Make the Movies: Samuel Fuller
  • War department film: The Fighting First
  • 1980 promo reel, theatrical trailer, and TV and radio spots
  • 2004 reconstruction trailer
  • Stills gallery

Product Details

  • Actors: Lee Marvin, Mark Hamill, Robert Carradine, Bobby DiCicco, Kelly Ward
  • Directors: Samuel Fuller
  • Writers: Samuel Fuller
  • Producers: Gene Corman
  • Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: May 3, 2005
  • Run Time: 163 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (277 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007TKNLA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,528 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Big Red One - The Reconstruction (Two-Disc Special Edition)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Daniel Fineberg on February 24, 2005
Format: DVD
Whenever I would catch it on cable years and years ago, Sam Fuller's "The Big Red One" was a quirky war movie with strange pacing and a very uneven balance of comedy and tragedy, of high and low-- several great moments strung loosely together. Working on the upcoming DVD, I was not aware of the fact that Fuller had shot 4 hours or that he wished to his dying day that the film would be lengthened, and I was skeptical as I always am with extended versions (this one carries the subtitle "Reconstruction"). I got to look at it several times, once for business and twice more for pleasure, because the film is transformed and made great, and there are so many memorable scenes that one wants to go back to it again and again. 40-plus minutes have been added on, some full scenes, some simply extended bits to old scenes. The narrative structure of the movie is still very free and loose, very episodic, but the greater length is absolutely crucial to the plot, since we are meant to get at least some slight idea of the tedium and homesickness that goes along with being a soldier in an ongoing war. Fleshed out is the character and performance of Lee Marvin--everything that he is capable of as an actor, everything that that stone wall of a face can convey is on display here--tough as all hell but with a simultaneous sweetness that can be, when called upon, heartbreaking. Look at his expression when a gunfight breaks out after the Italian girl places flowers on his helmet--he jabs the rifle into position along his chin and begins firing rounds, his face jerking only slighty with each shot. We don't see anything of the gunfight, only close-up on his face and the expression says nothing and everything all at once--we're meant to meet him halfway and fill in the blanks ourselves.Read more ›
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Format: DVD
Sarge (Lee Marvin), first saw combat near the end of WWI. Now, years later, in North Africa in WWII he is a grizzled, war weary, seen it all veteran. Nevertheless, he's still resolute in his duty and a proud wearer of the Red #1 arm patch insignia of the US 1st Infantry Division. He is leader, father, mother, coach and whatever else he needs to be to get his rifle squad through the war. The four principal characters of interest are Griff (Mark Hamill), an expert riflemen but one who can't shoot the enemy if he sees his eyes; he calls it murder, Sarge says otherwise. There is Zab (Robert Carradine) who's main purpose is narrator, his musings provide background and setting; the other two are Johnson and Vinci. We follow this group throughout the movie and the war from North Africa, Sicily, Normandy, Belgium and finally to a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia for a series of emotionally powerful concluding scenes.
There is no glorification of war here; indeed the message is very clear - the only glory in war is surviving. The movie is very creative in introducing characters whose sole purpose, with their demise, is to underline this message. The short careers of both Lemchek and Kaiser are cases in point. The battle scenes are weak and unrealistic but that's not the emphasis. The action scenes that are memorable are the ones with a subtle message; the camera focusing in on the dead soldiers wristwatch in the surf of Normandy, the water turning red with the passing of time; the scene at the asylum in France and the concentration camp scene where Griff overcomes his compunction about shooting while seeing the whites of his enemies eyes.
It's a well crafted movie, with some strong acting from Lee Marvin and Mark Hamill and a movie which delivers it's message in a well thought out and strong ending.
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Format: DVD
I remember the original movie when I was younger. I was too young to see it in the theater so I saw it often on HBO. When it came out on videotape and then DVD I purchased it. And then I saw the bigger & badder version. WOW! What a movie. Yes, its almost an hour longer than the original, but it makes it such a better movie. There are scenes added that add more storyline, character buildup and more action. Being this is now 3 hours long it borders on beating out Saving Private Ryan as the best WWII movie ever made. Lee Marvin is at his best, but then again he was always at top form. This movie follows a rifle squad thoughout the battlefields of World War II. It seems the Sargeant (Marvin) and his 4 soldiers seem to always leave battles unharmed while the new soldiers that arrive fall victim to bullets and landmines. In this film you follow the First Infantry through North Africa and Sicily and then to the beaches of Normandy and straight through Germany. If you like long epic war films, then my friend you'll love this one. It's 3 hours well spent.
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Format: Blu-ray
First, as many of you know, the reviews here mix the Blu-Ray with the DVD. These comments are directed at the Blu-Ray edition, released in April / May of 2014.

1) It does include the original theatrical cut, and the "extended" cut. This is contrary to the original announcement by the studio.

2) BUT - and this is a very big "but" -- ONLY the theatrical cut is in high definition. Let me repeat that: ONLY the theatrical cut is in high definition. The extended version is there - but it is apparently just a direct copy of the DVD transfer which has been available for some years now.

3) Now, for the really bad news... The high def theatrical cut is in high def, but it is -- to put it mildly -- pretty bad. I just watched it, at a friend's home theater. Ouch. It seemed so bad, that I arrived at my house and popped in the DVD of the same, and then the DVD of the extended cut (which were sold as a package on DVD) -- and guess what -- in my humble opinion -- the DVD of the the theatrical cut actually looks noticeably superior to the Blu-Ray of the same version. So, I checked the only review site I could find that had taken a look at this new Blu-Ray release: "Greenberg is known for deep blacks and strong cyans, but you'd never know that from Warner's 1080p, AVC-encoded presentation of the theatrical cut of The Big Red One, which adds insult to injury with a flat, dull and underwhelming image. Colors are washed out, detail is erratic, blacks are weak and the grain pattern looks suspiciously scrubbed, especially for a film that is supposed to have a raw and gritty immediacy.
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