The Big Red One - The Reconstruction (Two-Disc Special Edition)
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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
- 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
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Top customer reviews
This is not poignant and humanistic film that is :All Quiet on the Western Front" but memorable in its own way.
The extra features are quite interesting as well with discussions of what was required to include the missing portions pf the film. Fuller and Marvin were not alive for the restoration interviews but their personalities enhance the flavor of the extras.
As well, it allows Lee Marvin the space to turn in the greatest performance of his career as he embodies that theme, "the only glory in war is surviving."
Specs: 162 Minutes, Widescreen, Digitally Remastered Movie with Soundtrack remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1. Made in 2004, includes 2 DVDs. Warner Bros.
I sadly didn't read the "fine print" and ordered this as soon as I found it was available.... just popped it in my machine and found no chapter stops for the extended / preferred version ..... okay no worries I'll watch it start to finish.... and then read that it is in STANDARD definition! I'm glad WB issued this movie on BR , I'm grateful they included all the bonus features from the wonderful 2 disc DVD set , but WHY didn't they bother to release the NEWER , BETTER, HIGHLY TOUTED version in HD ? Lazy? Cheap? both?
I rate this a 5 star movie... the two disc DVD set is a 5 star set..... but releasing this on BR in standard definition rates a big fat 2 stars (which means "I don't Like it" according to Amazon.com). Love the movie , am disappointed with this HD , Non HD release and am warning others like me who assume because a company is releasing a movie on BR that the movie will be HD!