The Charge of the Light Brigade
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The reckless lancers sweep on and on - so that a woman's heart might not be broken! You're not fighting a single legion - you're fighting the entire British army Surat Khan! Major Vickers is an officer at the 27th Lancers in India 1856. When the regiment is on maneuver the barracks are attacked by Surat Khan and his soldiers who massacre British women and children. This leaves an inextinguishable memory and Vickers promises to revenge the dead.System Requirements:Run Time: 115 minutesFormat: DVD MOVIE Genre: TELEVISION/CLASSIC Rating: NR UPC: 012569796263 Manufacturer No: 79626
- Warner Night at the Movies 1936: Vintage newsreel, Oscar-winning drama short "Give Me Liberty," comedy short "Shop Talk" with Bob Hope, classic cartoon "Boom Boom"
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The Charge of the Light Brigade - 600 British Lancers who challenged the Russian Army of 25,000 and prevailed in the battle - but at great cost and casualties. There was a massacre at a British fortress in Northern India that prompted revenge. This historic engagement occurred in 1865 during the Crimean War - at the same time of our own American Civil War that was in progress. There is a great deal of "Hollywood" drama in this production, but a memorable one with a combination of heroics and legend. This films reveals the national struggles towards the end of the 19th Century in that part of the world where there was still the nation of Persia and incidents at the Kyber Pass, as well as the struggle of the Czar of Russia to hold the Crimea for a seaport. Outstanding and a real archive addition to any DVD collection.
Although the movie is supposed to be about the Crimean War (1853 ~ 1856), the plot is almost a total work of fiction. It is based on Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem about the Light Brigade's glorious charge at Balaklava. The poem was published in October 1854:
"Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death,
Rode the six hundred...
...Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred...
...When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wonder'd.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!"
However, even though this movie takes total poetic license (fiction), it is still a great story with the dashing Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland.
The plot surrounds Geoffrey Vickers (Errol Flynn) who is a Major in the British 27th Lancers (although he starts out as Captain at the beginning of the movie). Surat Kahn's (C. Henry Gordon) soldiers attack the lightly guarded garrison at Chukoti. The deceitful Surat Kahn offers safe passage for the surviving soldiers, women and children if they agree to turn the garrison over to Surat Kahn. He then proceeds to massacre the defenseless British women and children as they leave the fort. Of course, Geoffrey Vickers vows to avenge the fallen.
As a sub-plot, Geoffrey Vickers has fallen for the beautiful Elsa Campbell (Olivia d Havillad) but unknown to Vickers, Elsa has fallen in love with his brother Captain Perry Vickers (Patrick Knowles) and he with her.
Major Vickers and the men of the 27th Lancers get their chance at revenge on the Crimean Peninsula when England goes to war with Russia. Surat Khan has sought protection of his Russian allies. Vickers leads the men in the famous charge into the valley of death.
Muchael Curtiz's directing style is unmistakable. The use of shadow in the opening scenes, where you see the Court dancers, is reminiscent of the use of shadows in the famous sword duel in Robin Hood. During the hunting scene, the camera shots of the elephants and the leopards are terrific. However, if you are an animal lover (I own 3 cats, who are truly loved as a part of the family), the scene is hard to watch.
Curtiz was born in Hungary and immigrated to the U.S. He was known for his "creative" use of the English language. During filming, Curtiz exclaimed "Bring on the empty horses!", meaning "riderless horses". David Niven would later use this phrase as the title of his autobiography.
There are a couple of goofs in the movie. The British Flag is being carried upside down by the Lancers as they are about to go into "the valley of death". In all the subsequent shots the flag is the correct way up. During the charge scene, Surat Khan first holds the telescope to his right eye, and a few moments later uses his left eye. The trip wires that kill the horses are totally visible during the charge. This occurs multiple times during the action sequence. The film states that it is dedicated "to the officers and men of the Light Brigade who died victorious in a gallant charge at Balaklava for Queen and Country - A.D. 1856." However, the battle at Balaklava and the Charge of the Light Brigade occurred in October 1854. Humorously, after the massacre, Flynn sympathetically listens to Major Singh crying over the body of his murdered son (Prema) who is clearly wiggling his toes in the foreground of the scene.
The DVD is so superbly sharp and crisp that it could be mitaken for a a Blu-ray. The pearls on Surat Kahn's head and neck shimmer in the light during the close-up shots. You feel like you can reach out and touch the pearls. The white marble walls and the reflective marble floors in the palace are incredible. look at the reflection of te British Officers as they walk in. The British dress uniforms are fantastic. It is a terrific transfer to DVD.
I enjoyed this movie very much (how can you not like early vintage Errol Flynn movies) and would rate this film 4.5 stars. For the price, you can't beat it!
All that being said, this is one of Errol Flynn's early and best action movies during the early part of his career. It is a fictionalized account of the famous charge of the British lancers and in my opinion a lot more interesting than the later version with Gielgould which although more accurate historically, the action is terrible. Flynn is at his best and the movie direction is excellent.
I give the movie 5 stars, the video transfer 2 to 3 stars. If you can wait for Warner Brothers to release it, I suggest that you wait. If not, it is not too bad. The seller I bought it from was excellent.