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The Hill

4.4 out of 5 stars 79 customer reviews

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(Jun 05, 2007)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

World War II drama about a group of prisoners who struggle against a ferocious staff sergeant in a British disciplinary camp located in the Libyan desert.


The Hill (1965) was made by Sidney Lumet in that period when his name was synonymous with powerhouse drama guaranteed to leave audiences wrung out and limp (Fail-Safe, The Pawnbroker). Still, there was a bigger name involved: Sean Connery breaking with his James Bond image to portray a volcanically outraged inmate at a British Army prison camp in Libya. The titular Hill is a steep mound erected on the desert floor for him and other British soldiers who have violated the (often absurd) rules of the military game to buck sacks of sand up one side and down the other, like so many sons of Sisyphus. Ian Hendry is unforgettably loathsome as the sadistic noncom Williams; other captors include Harry Andrews, Ian Bannen, and Michael Redgrave, while Connery's fellow prisoners are played by Ossie Davis, Roy Kinnear, Jack Watson, and Alfred Lynch. In Oswald Morris's black-and-white cinematography, you can almost feel the desert sun like a hot brick. --Richard T. Jameson

Special Features

  • Vintage featurette: "The Sun...The Sand... The Hill"
  • 1965 war movies trailer gallery

Product Details

  • Actors: Sean Connery, Harry Andrews, Ian Bannen, Alfred Lynch, Ossie Davis
  • Directors: Sidney Lumet
  • Writers: R.S. Allen, Ray Rigby
  • Producers: Kenneth Hyman, Raymond Anzarut
  • Format: Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC, Black & White
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0), French (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: June 5, 2007
  • Run Time: 123 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000NTPG6G
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,657 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Hill" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Walker on April 30, 2002
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
One of the most intelligent and honest (not to mention beautifully filmed) movies I've seen in ages. Anyone depressed by Sean Connery's recent whorishness needs to look at this one. It's by far his greatest film.
"The Hill" that gives the movie its name is a device of torture built by prisoners in the Libyan desert: a pyramid of stone, sand and corrugated iron, which looks like a vestige of some ancient, barbaric age. Prisoners who violate the letter or "spirit" of the British Army's antiquated rules are forced to hump double-time over the hill in full pack, in the searing mid-day sun, endlessly, until they drop. On its sides men are broken--hollowed out--and obedient robots are made.
"The Hill" is, in my opinion, the most powerful WWII film ever made--yet not one bullet is fired in its two-plus hours. The drama and the terror of this film are in the war of character, of wills: the violence of psychological destruction. If this sounds boring to you, you should know that the film draws you in quickly with its stark premise (a disgraced NCO enters a detention camp for incorrigible soldiers, and antagonizes the sadistic staff-sergeant), then cuts deeper and deeper and does not flinch for an instant. This movie has a spine harder than the sun-blasted rock of "the hill" itself.
The maniacal inflexibility of leadership--particularly in wartime, and especially among noncombatants eager to prove their "toughness"--has been the theme of several great movies. This may be the greatest. Its atmosphere is more convincing than other prison/boot-camp flicks ("Full Metal Jacket," "Midnight Express," etc.), and its photography and editing have enormous impact--all without resort to stylization or even a musical score. The final brilliance is in the casting.
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Format: VHS Tape
When shall we see a DVD of this most wonderful and sadly forgotten film of uninhibited control's--not necessarily war's--inevitable brutality. You will uncover few richer and more vulnerable Sean Connery performances on record. But unlike most of Sean's star vehicles, this powderkeg menaces on all fronts. One feels the tortuous heat of the punishing hill in the British prison, the strained nobility of seasoned soldiers treated with contempt by their captors, the unspoken psychological tremors beneath "Williams'" foreboding surface...
Cinematography is fabulous, lack of musical score intensifies the drama's isolated setting.
Buy this film--campaign for the uncensored (uncut) DVD.
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Format: VHS Tape
Each time I watch The Hill I am stunned.
This is a deeply intelligent film.
The acting, script, story, direction and photography have rarely been equalled. I don't think there is a single weak link, line, or player in this gripping story of human nature under stress.
There is no easy way out in this movie, no fail safe cliches or sentimental heroics. "Mutinous" prisoners baying the name of a dead soldier are cowed and brought to heel, by a NCO, who knows full well how to gain control of a crowd.
Each time, you think justice will out, cynical men carefully pull the strings, bark the orders, and carefully manipulate the men to perform their bidding.
Each character grows, each role has depth, each offers insight into the way any of us might react to such circumstances. No one is idealised. Even Roberts laughs at Stevens at one crucial point.
Strange, the director conveys such brutality and corruption but rarely needs any obscenity in the script. I only realised that half way through the film.
I have a great love for Euripides, the Athenian playwright of 484-406 BC, whose ironic tragedies question the accepted brutality in 'civilised' society at war. I think The Hill does the same and to the same superb standard.
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Format: DVD
Sidney Lumet is best known for his classic "12 Angry Men", with Henry Fonda. I have been trying for almost twenty years to get hold of this prisoner camp/WWII movie after hearing great recommendations from trustworthy friends. Finally I can say that this one is even better. In my opinion it is simply one of the best 100 film of all times. Why it hasn't been on dvd till now is beyond me.

Shot in beautiful and stark black and white in the desert of Almería (Spain). During WWII in north Africa the British run this prison camp for British petty criminals whose lives are made miserable to the brink of going mad. One cell is shared by five very different persons, each one very interesting for the type they represent. Harry Andrews plays the cruel sergeant-Major who sadically enjoys torturing his "human specimens" march up and down a man-made sand hill. His staff-sergeant embodies the loathable lackey who takes orders and even exceeds in carrying them out. All the cast is superb, wonderful. Connery, the star in the film is very good but I felt the other characters were as interesting -if not more- than him. The tension in the film increases by the minute, to a point when you can't even blink an eye, it's gripping, absorbing. One really feels like being there, tortured in the 100 degree sun, running out of breath, with no way to escape. The system is rotten but nobody dares speak out.

It is very realistic. It reminded me of my own Spanish military experience: the officer's cruelty, drunkenness, the commanders away with prostitutes and relaying responsibilities in the brutes of the lower ranks always willing to take it on the rank and file. Even the physical exhaustion, and the beating.
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