Don't throw out your VHS copy just yet
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The Battle of Britain is one of my favorite films. Great cast, classic flying scenes and a fascinating perspective on historical events.However, I was disappointed with the DVD version. The image quality is great, but the DVD differs from the VHS version in some important ways.First, the DVD version has different subtitles. Some are modified and some are added. If you read all of the newly added (and mostly unnecessary) subtitles, you can't keep up with the video in some scenes. I don't speak German, so I can't say whether the modified subtitles are more accurate, but I feel that some of the translations lost their dramatic edge in this release. The DVD producers also chose to overlap subtitles with the picture, when, at 2.35:1, there's plenty of room below the video for the subtitles.Secondly, on VHS, the movie's final scene is boosted by Ron Goodwin's beautiful soundtrack. The DVD version drops the Ron Goodwin track and replaces it with a lifeless piece that saps the life out of the final scene. This was a major disappointment.Lastly, just before the end credits, Winston Churchill's famous quote is replaced with a less notable one.Overall, it's still a great movie, but the VHS version was nearly perfect. After waiting years for the DVD version, I'm now left hoping there will be a Special Edition version with the VHS subtitles and soundtrack restored."
Superb recreation of the most important battle of WWII
firstname.lastname@example.org | Phoenixville, PA | 07/18/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was there, a kid who lived through the Blitz and my father volunteered for the RAF and served in the Far East - I guess that makes me biased. Much attention is given by Hollywood to D-Day. What people like Leonard Maltin forget, in his snide comment ("another 'spot the star' WW2 epic") in his Movie & Video Guide, is that if the June 6 invasion had failed another one could have been launched within months; but if the Battle of Britain had been lost ("on the outcome of this battle depends the future of ... civilization" - W. Churchill) there would have been no D-Day because there would have been nowhere to launch it from. Maltin's problem, like so many American critics of foreign films, is probably that there were no American stars performing mythical heroics - no James Garner or Steve McQueen with spurious roles as in "The Great Escape." The film faithfully portrayed the events and characters: Robert Shaw's "Skipper" character is a great representation of Squadron Leader "Sailor" Malan; Laurence Olivier spent countless hours studying archival films of Air Chief Marshall Dowding so as to portray him accurately, to the extent that people who knew "Stuffy" Dowding said it was like turning the clock back 30 years. The importance of radar was detailed, as was the hopeless leadership of Goering (wonderfully played by vaudeville artist Hein Riess). No mock heroics, just scared young men doing their best against impossible odds. Did you spot the realistic touch made by including an actual horribly burned airman? Once more, consider the consequences of Britain losing this battle: with no Western front to guard and the British laying down their arms in North Africa, Hitler would have been able to use his entire army, probably led by Rommel, and an undiminished air force, to quickly overpower Russia. After joining Japan, and with all of Europe and Asia under their control, with all the resources, raw materials, armament factories and the British Fleet, the last act would have been a 2-coast attack on, and defeat of, the USA. "The whole world, including the United States, cast into a new Dark Age" (Churchill). In summary: an exciting, technically-correct episodic docudrama of how less than 1,000 young men saved the world."
Well, the version we've been waiting for has arrived..."The
James M. Goldsmith | 11/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At long last fans of this great production have a DVD that won't disappoint. Those of us who saw the film when it was released in Theaters to this day, I believe, at every viewing of this movie recall and relive the significant impact it had.
O.k...so we have Heinkels and Me 109's with Merlin engines. Come on guys! I certainly prefer that to CGI planes that don't even exist. Remember...there's about as little chance that you'll ever see a gathering of warbirds like this on film again as there is of the Battle of Britain repeating itself. And the model Stukas? Well, think about it. Even if there were a few around, which there wasn't (flyable that is), they wouldn't be crashing them now would they. No, we'd still see models. Not one real airplane was destroyed making this film. All were mock-ups or models.
While the love story addicts are generally happier watching the likes of Pearl Harbor for obvious reasons, it must be remembered that films like Battle of Britain and Tora Tora Tora (easily the better Pearl Harbor depiction)are simply intended to tell a story. A little bit of documentary? You bet. A story of which we already know the begining, the middle and the outcome. There are no twists or suprises to be expected. No heroes walking out of the smoke in slow motion. The film is about the battle, not the individuals. It's about the RAF, not the one pilot that flies better than anyone else and has the prettiest girl waiting for him. It's about the country that against overwhelming odds came through. No. No individual heroes or loves...if that's what you're looking for quite simply you are watching the wrong movie. What? Did we see a review or two that complained of no plot? Geeez Loueeez...don't tell the Germans. You can teach monkeys to review better than that. Anyway, similarly we have a production that brings us real Heinkels and 109's and Spitfires and Hurricanes once again dueling it out over London and Dover...impossible by todays standards for monetary, permitability and aircraft availability reasons, in an almost equally overwhelming effort as stopping the Luftwaffe. I for one think the guys responsible for this masterful movie deserve all the credit for laboring and acheiving as good a look back at those times as we're ever likely to get.
It's interresting to note that it was twenty-nine years seperating the real event from the movie. It's been thirty-six years since the movie premiered. In that thirty-six year period not another film of this genre can come close. And if we go farther back into Hollywood history, well there's loads of AT-6's and occasional P-43 Lancers painted as Zeros, F-84's masquerading as Migs...and of course, more recently F-5's as Migs, and so on. I am grateful for the attention to authenticity that was given to every aspect of this production. Watch the special features disc about how even actual dock areas of London real estate and airbase hangers were once again destroyed to add even more realism.
And speaking of grateful, THANK YOU MGM for the great job on this DVD set. Whatever the reason for the lousy version released a couple of years ago, this effort is superb. To those of you who have not seen it yet, rest assured it is back in it's original form...and then some. Subtitles have all been restored, the video is mastered in high definition and the audio greatly displays the benefit of a re-do in 5.1 Dolby Digital. Thankfully, the soundtrack is also returned to the glorious Ron Goodwin version, with the Sir William Walton score available as an option. It's interesting to run the movie with the other score, but I promise you after about 15 minutes you'll be switching back to Ron Goodwin. However, Sir William Walton is a talented composer in his own right, and while his approach was entirely diferent it is that contrast that makes his "Battle in the Air" interlude such a striking part of the movie. Pilot and aircraft attrition are displayed at the end as in the original. The subtitles are located in the lower letterbox bar which is great, although it may be a little frustrating for some depending on your television. Since it is in 16x9 aspect ratio, the "stretch mode" most appropriate on some screens may crop the lower line of subtitle. Watching it on a Sony 50 inch widescreen LCD set had this problem, but the SharpVision projector set at 9 feet diagonally has a setting
that accomodates perfectly.
So put that old laser disc and the blurry vhs tape away for good...sit back and enjoy...the real Battle of Britain is about to begin..."
BoB Collector's Edition DVD
W. Thomson | Boise, Idaho USA | 11/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an excellent DVD for all fans of the movie.Both musical scores are available and the original title sequences are back so the " Never in the field of Human Conflict..." quote is now at the end of the movie - unlike the first DVD release.
The commentaries are very informative and interesting. Having Mr Hamilton and Mr Williams along with Ms York talking was illuminating. The other interviews with actual Battle participants were a nice addition. The Michael Caine hosted " Battle For the Battle of Britain" is great with all the flavor of late 60's Britain along with great video and behind the scenes views. I found hearing the voices of such people as fighter pilot Peter Townsend for the first time fascinating.
The only negative was the often pitiful aircraft recognition to be heard in the commentaries. It could be to some degree due to the commentary not matching the actual scene in view. The historian Mr Annett was obviously confusing the Junker 87 Stuka with the Junkers 52 transport on at least two occasions.To the purist it does "almost make you weep".
I really enjoyed all the features of the DVD. Excellent."