An epic film that "re-creates in stunning detail one of the most disastrous battles of World War II" (The Hollywood Reporter), A Bridge Too Far is a spectacular war picture. Painstakingly recreated on actual battlefield lo... more »cations and boasting a remarkable cast that includes Sean Connery, Anthony Hopkins, Sir Laurence Olivier and Robert Redford, A Bridge Too Far accurately recaptures the monumental scope, excitement and danger behind one of the biggest military gambles in history.In September 1944, flush with success after the Normandy Invasion, the Allies confidently launched Operation Market Garden, a wild scheme intended to put an early end to the fighting by invading Germany and smashing the Reich's war plants. But a combination of battlefield politics, faulty intelligence, bad luck and even worse weather led to disaster beyond the Allies' darkest fears.« less
Michael S. Mahoney | Louisville, KY United States | 09/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In a film of beautiful nuance, Richard Attenborough captures the horrors or war and the dignity of those who must endure, soldiers and civilians alike. The stellar cast of "A Bridge Too Far" (a veritable who's who of acting greats) sets this film apart. Sean Connery leaves behind the cool assuredness of Bond and faces futility with a mug of tea while Anthony Hopkins, a proper Englishman in Hell, surrenders with dignity, only reluctantly accepting chocolate from the enemy. James Caan is a particular standout. With true American grit, he bends all the rules and makes good on a pledge. The scale of the film could have wrought disasters on par with the campaign it portrays. Fortunately, the immensity of the Market-Garden campaign, which historically met its Waterloo at Arnhem, doesn't swallow up the stories of individual characters, of the Brit with umbrella for instance or the Dutch resisters who spy for the Allies.
Few World War II flicks showcase the absolute beauty of the European countryside. In "A Bridge Too Far," the landscape, made all the more picturesque in its contrast to the gore and destruction, is certainly an additional star and supports the wisdom of shooting this expensive epic in the Netherlands. The wide-angle approach, as well as the moving score, give balm to eyes and ears now accustomed to the tortorous naturalism of "Saving Private Ryan." Attenborough pulls back, thankfully. In its final scene, "A Bridge Too Far" achieves poignance without dialogue, without bluster, and without the common contrivance of summoning tears with half-baked, insipid bathos. Sir Lawrence Olivier and Liv Ullman stare straight ahead, the fresh graves of British paratroopers lining their path from an elegance destroyed, from an order and faith utterly shattered. The scene is perfection. And the film itself is close to it."
Excellent Film -- Historically Accurate.
Kevin R. Austra | 07/20/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In my opinion, the best war movie ever made -- a notch better than "Saving Private Ryan," which contains certain historical inaccuracies. "A Bridge Too Far" masterfully adapts Cornelius Ryan's meticulously-researched book of the same title. More importantly, with the exception of the German tanks and armored personnel carriers depicted in the failed attempt to capture the northern end of the Arnhem bridge, the uniforms, machine guns, rifles, tanks, landscape, etc. depicted in the film are accurate -- unlike the vast majority of war films that cut corners, film off location, fail to research key facts, etc. The "second Omaha Beach" crossing of the Waal River by the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division -- filmed on loaction -- is the most riveting scene in the movie. Also spectacular is the reenactment of the dropping of hundreds of paratroopers over Holland from C-47 Dakotas. The only negative is that the movie can be quite confusing to one who is not familiar with the intricacies of Operation Market Garden. I urge anyone considering viewing the film to first read "Arnhem 1944" by Martin Middlebrook or Cornelius Ryan's above-mentioned book. Some research will help put this complicated military operation into perspective. After you've seen the movie, and if you have the time, money and inclination, take a battlefield tour of Nijmegen and Arnhem (both just an hour-or-so drive from Amsterdam) so you can truly appreciate the sacrifices made by the British, American, and Polish paratroopers depicted in the film nearly 55 years ago."
War on an epic scope
Jeffrey Leach | Omaha, NE USA | 12/05/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
""A Bridge Too Far" reminds me of an Irwin Allen film. Allen, if you're not familiar with his work, made a bunch of epic disaster films in the 1970s packed to the rafters with big name stars. His "The Swarm" is a schlock classic that every lover of bad cinema should add to their must see list. In the case of "A Bridge Too Far," we're still seeing an all star cast disaster film, but this disaster took place during World War II when the Allies decided to stage a daring paratroop drop behind enemy lines. The idea was to knock Germany out of the war quickly by seizing several key bridges in Holland in quick succession and then send Allied forces directly into the Ruhr Valley, the heart of Germany's industrial base. If everything went according to plan, the Allies felt confident that the war would end by Christmas 1944. It was an audacious plan that ultimately failed due to a number of reasons--including bad weather and a failure to take into account the quality of German troops--and cost thousands of British and American lives. Richard Attenborough decided to make a film about the failed operation in the 1970s; the result is this nearly three hour film. Some people refer to this film as "A Movie Too Long," which I must admit is painfully true in some respects. A recent viewing exposed a number of flaws I missed when I watched this twenty years ago.
Operation Market Garden, the military name for this daring plan formulated by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, sent in the American 82nd and 101st airborne divisions along with the British XXX and 1st airborne to accomplish this complicated task. Unfortunately, military forces were unable to reach the bridge at Arnhem, the bridge too far, that would have led them into Germany. They bogged down instead thanks to a mass of German panzers that prevented British resupply and reinforcements. After nine days the remnants of the British forces pulled out and the operation ended. American troops took heavy casualties as well in their attempts to take a couple of other bridges. This is a short meatball summary of what occurred in Operation Market Garden that I pulled off the Internet in about five minutes. In reality, it's complicated stuff for the layperson to understand, and the movie doesn't make it very easy to follow along once the bullets start flying and the shells start exploding. Yet the film has its compelling points. Just the idea of attempting to recreate such a massive operation is so ambitious as to exhaust anyone even thinking about putting it on film. But Attenborough gives it the old college try. We should admire him for his efforts.
Think about all of the egos Sir Richard had to massage on the various sets. You've got Dirk Bogarde in the role of Lt. General Frederick Browning, the man in charge of setting up the massive operation. Sean Connery pops up as Maj. General Roy Urquhart, and we all know Connery isn't the easiest chap to work with. Edward Fox delivers a "win one for the Gipper" type speech to the troops as Lt. General Brian Horrocks, Elliot Gould overacts as Major Julian Cook, and Jimmy Caan orders a doctor to look at his wounded buddy in a way that would make Alan Alda weep with sympathy. Anthony Hopkins turns in a solid performance as Lt. Colonel John Frost, Laurence Olivier plays Dutch physician Jan Spaander, Robert Redford paddles up a river while taking heavy fire as Major Julian Cook, Michael Caine is Lt. Colonel Joe Vandeleur, and Ryan O'Neal is American Brigadier General James Gavin. My favorite performance comes from Gene Hackman in the role of Polish General Stanislaw Sosabowski. I groaned when I learned about his role beforehand, but Hackman does a great job playing a Pole. He's one of the few guys involved in the operation actually questioning the wisdom of what's going on. And his men eventually take casualties too when they attempt a night crossing over a river. Irwin Allen, eat your heart out!
"A Bridge Too Far" has some excellent battle reenactments. I have several favorites. The exchange between German tank and artillery placements with the Allies on the road to Arnhem is fantastic. They even send in a few planes to drop some bombs! When you listen to this on DVD with a great sound system, prepare to stuff some cotton in your ears. The British attempts to repulse the German tanks rolling in over that bridge look pretty darn good as well. I sure as heck wouldn't want to be that chap strolling across the bridge armed with an umbrella. That scene where the British soldier runs out to retrieve a supply pod dropped by a plane only to fall when struck by a sniper's bullet is one of many scenes that helps keep the film from losing emotional perspective. Aside from the combat sequences, I also appreciated the film's portrayal of the German side of the campaign. Instead of falling back on the old cinematic standby of showing any German in World War II as a raging megalomaniac, the movie tries to present a fair picture of how they countered the Allied attack.
Hmmm. Looking back at what I've written, I guess I have to say I enjoyed the film more than I thought. I'm still going to deduct a star for what I feel was a failure on the part of Attenborough to tighten the film through rigorous editing. I suspect he worried endlessly about what to leave in and what to leave on the cutting room floor since the omission of even one or two scenes could have thrown the whole film into confusion. But some stuff should have gone out the window. Too bad we only get a trailer as an extra...
Literally filmed on location
Kevin R. Austra | Delaware Valley, USA | 01/08/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Cornelius Ryan's nonfiction saga is masterfully told in the film adaptation. MARKET GARDEN, hoped to be one of the death blows to the German Reich, was daring and ambitious, but failed to bounce the Rhine and bring the war to conclusion. Locations in the Netherlands included the actual Nijmegen Bridge, drop zones outside of Oosterbeek (which is next to Arnhem), the Deventer Bridge closely doubling as the bridge at Arnhem, and many scenes filmed at the Dutch Infantry training center at nearby Harskamp. Producer Joseph E. Levine and Director Richard Attenborough drew equipment from numerous nations, including quite a few museum relics, to create this film. What they did not have, special effects and props departments created in order to create a realistic and mostly historically accurate rendition of this September 1944 battle in Holland. Where the film deviates from the book is that the movie tends to paint the Allied planners as blind to the possible flaws in the operation and German Field Marshal Model is portrayed as a cowardly fool. In reality, Model's immediate actions, though based on incorrect assumptions, greatly contributed to the containment of the Airhead north of the Neder Rijn. A BRIDGE TO FAR ranks highly with films like THE LONGEST DAY and SAVING PRIVATE RYAN in terms of intensity and historical accuracy."
Looks and sounds no better than standard DVD
R. Longabaugh | Peachtree City, GA | 03/23/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Great movie, but I was extremely disappointed with the quality of this Blu-ray version. So my rating is not for the movie itself which I would give between 4 and 5 stars. I give it two stars on the technical quality. The video quality was no better than the standard DVD, which I already own, and the audio might even be worse than the standard DVD. All in All a very poor transfer to Blu-ray, do not waste your money on this version."