The Charge of the Light Brigade (4 stars)

The Charge of the Light Brigade

(12) 124min

(Optimum DVD retail)


First released in 1968, this superb critique of the pointlessness of warfare was totally in tune with the ongoing horror of the conflict in Southeast Asia and the explosion of civil protest during that tumultuous year.

Directed by one of the great proponents of the New Wave of British cinema, Tony Richardson (A Taste of Honey, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Tom Jones), from a script co-written by an uncredited John Osborne, it’s a highly irreverent, grimly humorous and unflinchingly gritty account of the infamous military blunder committed by the British at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War in 1854 when, as immortalised in Tennyson’s classic poem, 600 cavalrymen charged Russian canons head-on and were subject to wholesale slaughter. As contemporaneous as the film must have felt in the late-1960s, it also looks back in anger, ridiculing the Empire and scandalising the Victorian class system. No extras.

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