Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Duvet Daze

Finding myself confined to the sofa following some surgery on Monday I’ve been indulging in some DVD downtime. Yesterday I started with the Dino De Laurentiis epic Waterloo a film I watched as a teenager in 1970 when it was first released. I’ve watched it again on DVD several times more recently but mostly as a background noise while I paint which is silly really because as a sound only experience it’s pretty poor with the exception of “By God sir I’ve lost my leg” and “By God sir so you have!”

Actually though a lot of the action scenes are really good when you consider that it is all live action with no CGI. It’s easy to criticise some of the milling about of men and the unlikely looking cavalry charges but it must have been a nightmare to coordinate and direct the scenes. My main criticism is that the first half hour or so of the film is taken up with a rather boring preamble presumably designed to broaden the audience interest from merely that of the action film type. It fails miserably in that aim and surely it would have been better to add a depiction of Quatre Bras and Ligny instead? I’d still give it a score of 7 out of 10 though – a classic.
Next I moved onto the 1968 version of Charge of the Light Brigade. I never saw this at the movies but I’ve watched it several times on TV and more recently on DVD. The film had very poor reviews when first released but I just can’t understand why as it’s probably my favourite war film. Unlike Waterloo the preamble has a point to it and fits seamlessly into the action sequences at the end. Trevor Howard is brilliant as Cardigan and although all the characters are more like caricatures it all works really well. The action scenes at the Alma and then the charge itself at Balaclava are very well done and seem believable. I have to give it 10 out of 10.

Today I’ve looked out Cromwell (1970) and Glory (1989) although I’ll only have time now to watch one of them. Still, I should have a least one more day on the sofa…

15 comments:

Robbie Rodiss said...

Watch the Duelists by Ridley Scott, looks wonderful, and isnt a bad story to boot.
I disagree about Waterloo mind, I thought Rod Steiger took a very good part. Also Christopher Plummer showed the correct amount of Sang froid.
And if youre laid up for any length of time, invest in The Borgia from Amazon, which is the first series of a German television series. Its very good.
Get well soon.

MSFoy said...

All the best for a rapid recovery, young man, though it sounds as though the rest days are pretty good. It suddenly occurred to me what a hoot it would be if, back in 1970, we had had the foresight to get Rod Steiger to suddenly say, "It's impolite to interrupt your enemy when he's painting the wrong coloured turnbacks on his grenadiers", just for this occasion. Mind you, historians would have argued about it throughout the intervening years.

In my own defence, I have spent today shopping at Tesco and visiting my mother, so I am easily amused.

Stryker said...

Robbie - thanks for the suggestions as I haven't watched either of those.

Tony - Yes, it would be handy if all the old war films had a figure painters commentary. Glad to hear that you have been usefully employed today sorting out Tesco's profits!

Wellington Man said...

Get well soon, Sir. We need you in fighting trim!

Stryker said...

Cheers Matthew, I hope to be back in the saddle soon!

Matt said...

Get well soon. I too am a big fan of The Charge of the Light Brigade. The full film is (allegedly) about 4 hours long and includes the charge of the heavy brigade. I had the VHS version which was longer than the current DVD offering (which interestingly has a still from the Heavy brigade sequence inside the sleeve!). I would love to see it in its entirety.

Stryker said...

Me too Matt!

lewisgunner said...

Paint while you can Ian, plenty of time to be distracted by domestic events when the eyesight is gone. I am sure we need more French, particularly Light Infantry as HH never made a specific figure for the centre companies.
After that we might be a bit light on KGL.!!
Roy

Kev said...

IAN- War and Peace - the USA Version with Henry Fonda and the Russian Version of War and Peace- are both great movies. Yes, I too like Waterloo and Charge of The Light Brigade (Hemmings Version). KEV.

warpaintjj said...

Sounds like a fine to me, I'll get hold of the Charge of the Light Brigade as I haven't seen it for at least 30 years!
Get well soon, JJ

Iain said...

Gettysburg should be on your list, given your interest in the ACW? One of my favourites, althought the prequel 'Gods and Generals' was a bit of a disappointment. 'Thin Red Line' is very good, and if you fancy some tricorn action, try 'Barry Lyndon'. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

the Archduke said...

Why oh why has nobody mentioned Zulu? Get well soon, Ian.

lewisgunner said...

Rorke's Drift is a very interesting battlefield to visit. For one the hill that the Zulu musket men are on is very close to the buildings. It really is remarkable that they could not completely dominate the open areas. It must be a case that aiming at someone made it harder to hit them. Secondly it is surprising that the Zulu do not coordinate a rush from everywhere at obce because they are in cover so close to the British lines that even if each redcoat killed three Zulu in the time it took to cross the killing zone overall casualties would only have been a third of the likely actual death toll. I think the key is the vast number of shots the Brits fired. This is sometimes used as a figure to show how un lethal mysketry is, but in this case it myst have been to keep heads down behind the walls and ridges that the Zulu hid behind. Their leaders may try and get them up and across the clear ground. One imagines that all higher command is lost, the Zulu leaders wait til the fire slackens, get a group up and charge and the red oats up the volume again, shooting down most with only a few reaching the improvised wall. Because the Zulu are only being motivated in small groups they face more barrels than if they all assaulted at once, but so close in there is no coordinated command.
It further illustrates the impact of even a low fortification, to cross it the Zulu mus , for an instant, split their concentration between fighting and clambering over a low wall shield and spear in hand and in that moment the bullet or bayonet gets them. An intersting insight into the Zulu is that we had a brilliant Zulu guide for Isandlhwana, but they are not keen to guide RD because it was an illegal battle against their king's wishes.

the Archduke said...

Fascinating, Roy. Very much fits the impression I have got from recent works, as well as what probably happened at Isandlwana in the absence of fortifications. How pleased Ian must be at this relevant comment on the role of Marcus Hinton at Waterloo..........

Stryker said...

Archduke - I'm very pleased with all comments received although I would have to point out that Zulu is one of my least favourite 'war films'. I far prefer Zulu Dawn...