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A Bridge Too Far(1977)
Sir Richard Attenborough directs Sean Connery, Gene Hackman, Anthony Hopkins and Robert Redford in this gripping and controversial tale about a daring WWII military operation.
For more about A Bridge Too Far and the A Bridge Too Far Blu-ray release, see A Bridge Too Far Blu-ray Review published by Sir Terrence on July 20, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Dirk Bogarde, James Caan, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Edward Fox, Elliott Gould
Director: Richard Attenborough
» See full cast & crew
A Bridge Too Far Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Sir Terrence, July 20, 2008
A Bridge Too Far, released in 1977 is based on the best selling 1974 novel of the same title authored by Cornelius Ryan. It features one of the largest all-star cast ever filmed in cinema history, and one of the largest airdrops outside of war times. Joseph Levin financed it privately for a cool $22 million dollars, but Levin was able to raise $26 million dollars from investors, which put the project $4 million in the black before it was even finished.
Airborne filming was done in the first weeks of September 1976, finishing out with an airdrop of a total of 1,000 men and supplies.
The film huge ensemble cast features Dirk Bogarde, James Caan, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Denholm Elliott (of Indiana Jones fame), Elliott Gould (who did an excellent job as Col. Robert Stout), Edward Fox, Gene Hackman, Anthony Hopkins, Jeremy Kemp, Laurence Olivier, Robert Redford, Liv Ullmann, and Ryan O'Neal. In spite of the big name cast, all of the actors did an excellent job of recreating a wartime feel, and the feeling of desperation as the campaign begins to unravel, and ultimately fail. The film was never intended to be an exact recreation of specific events, and even strays from the storyline of the book itself. It however does a credible job of presenting a very realistic interpretation of a World War II battle.
Bridge Too Far opens with a montage of images, and a narrative by Kate Ter Horst outlining the last five years of the war. D-Day has passed, and the war has bogged down due to supply lines problems as a result of battle lines extended deep into Germany occupied territory. Looking for a quick end to the war, Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower has to choose between dueling battle plans presented by General George Patton, and Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery, both who want to get to Berlin first to claim victory. Commander Eisenhower chooses Field Marshall Montgomery's plan, which was dubbed Operation Market Garden.
Operation Market Garden was designed to place thirty five thousand soldiers some sixty-four miles behind enemy lines. It was to be the largest airborne operation every undertaken. The plan was to flood the countryside with troops, and seize key bridges to help form a supply line to aid in battle. Things did not go well from the onset. Vital supplies were missing out of the initial drop, which meant that the plans would have to be altered. Communications systems had broken down, and the changes in plan could not be relayed to headquarters. It also didn't help that the intelligence on enemy ground forces in the area of the drop just happened to be wrong.
There is one individual that does not seem to like the plan, but remains silent during the presentation. Polish Major General Sosabowski (Gene Hackman) has some serious doubt about the viability of the plan. He is not alone. A young British intelligence officer, Major Fuller (Frank Grimes) asks Lieutenant General Fredrick Browning (Dirk Bogarde) for another reconnaissance flyover mission to survey the area just before the advance. His suspicions are well founded, as the flyover reveals tanks and heavy artillery in the area of deployment.
Problems abound on this operation. The 1st British Airborne has to land eight miles from the bridge it is to secure. Technical support reports the radios are going to have operational trouble in the long distance from the drop zone to the City of Arnhem. Jeeps with special artillery didn't arrive at all, or where shot up in an ambush. German resistance slowed the forward progress; one bridge that was to be taken intact is blown up by the Germans, and has to be rebuilt before progress up the road to the other bridges is possible. Worse, the road that links all of the bridges together is under attack by the German resistance. This delay leaves the troops in Arnhem unsupported and unable to sustain the takeover of the bridge. They soon must give up, as the Germans have them outgunned and surrounded.
A Bridge Too Far Blu-ray, Video Quality
Having seen Bridge Too Far on DVD I was not expecting much from this release. I however was pleasantly surprised it looked much better than the DVD by a long shot. Presented in 1080p/MPEG-2 the source looked to be in good shape, but did have some speckles and occasional blemishes. The color palette is rather muted, but at least what there is clean and solid. Flesh tones overall look accurate, but the use of tints occasionally gives the flesh tones a bluish cast. The use of filters gives the visuals a soft often dreamy look that kills the sharpness of some scenes, but nothing to detract from the images on the whole. The overall image looked pleasantly film like with a fair amount of detail, but it does not have the "realness" look of Battle of Britain, but it also does not have the visual problems that Battle of Britain had as well. Lastly I did find a few instances of posterization and noise, but I had to view the movie twice to notice it.
A Bridge Too Far Blu-ray, Audio Quality
MGM offers a Dts-HD Loss less Master Audio 5.1 track at 16/48khz, which for the age of the film sounds pretty good. There is also an optional English Dolby Digital 4.0 track, a 5.1 French Dolby Digital track at 448kbps, and a Spanish 1.0 dub at 192kbps. I chose to listen to the Dts loss less and the Dolby 4.0 tracks. The Dts track had a very nice sound to it for a film this age, however it is very front heavy, with almost no surround contribution whatsoever. What surround information was there was so low in level; it was swamped by the output of the front three channels. Bass is robust, clean, and pretty powerful for a film this age. The front three speakers bass output is limited to above 40hz output, much in line with the theater speakers of the time period. There is also not a lot of bass below 40hz coming from the LFE as well. Sound effects are spread across the front soundstage, but are strangely limited in the surrounds. The score didn't sound bad, but did have a very close up front sound staging characteristic, and there was an occasion of a piccolo distorting in the score. Overall distortion was not a problem. The Dolby Digital 4.0 track sounded very top heavy, and basically sounded out of balance when compared to the Dts track. It sounded like they just removed the LFE, and made no effort to restore balance to the track by sewing it into the main channels. This is not a bad sounding soundtrack, but it does have its problems
A Bridge Too Far Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
There is only a theatrical trailer for Bridge Too Far (in HD), and promotional spots for the movies Windtalkers, Flyboys, and Platoon.
A Bridge Too Far Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Bridge Too Far is not a bad movie, but not a particularly good one either. Its takes a little long to get on its feet, but once it does, it moves along nicely. I did not hold my attention as well as Battle for Britain did, and it most ways Battle for Britain is a better movie. But if you like WWII films, this one is sure to please. I would recommend you rent this first, and buy if you find that you like it.
A Bridge Too Far: Other Editions
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A Bridge Too Far Blu-ray, News and Updates
• War Classics on Blu-ray from Fox/MGM - April 22, 2008
Fox Home Entertainment and MGM Home Entertainment have announced five war film classics coming to Blu-ray on June 3rd. MGM will bring 'Battle of Britain' and 'A Bridge Too Far', while 'The Longest Day', 'Patton', and 'The Sand Pebbles' will come from Fox. Video ...
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