World War II Marathon: A Bridge Too Far (1977)

un pont trop loin

Film #28 in the World War II Marathon!

Screenplay By: William Goldman
Directed By: Richard Attenborough

As I reached the middle of A Bridge Too Far and remembered the actual series of events it is based on I immediately thought of Michael Crichton. World War II movie, Michael Crichton, huh? Those who have ever read Crichton will know what I mean after I explain. Crichton is famous for spending a good deal of time breaking down some fail proof facility and detailing every little thing that could go wrong while in the second half of the novel everything does go wrong. A Bridge Too Far spent the first forty or so minutes explaining the attack plan in detail and also breaking down what could go wrong in detail. Lo and behold, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. But, did the movie itself go wrong, or is A Bridge Too Far a war movie worth seeing?

I wouldn’t place A Bridge Too Far with the likes of Saving Private Ryan or Glory as far as war movies go, but it is a good, but uneven film. Purely from a production standpoint A Bridge Too Far is an excellent film. It is well made and maintains an adherence to the look and feel of the times throughout. The action scenes look great and for 1977 are surprisingly graphic and detailed. It is at its best in the air drop scenes, that entire sequence is something to marvel at. Thousands of paratroopers fill the screen and it does look amazing. I actually had to scroll back on the stream a few times just to watch the air drops again, they looked that good.

But, if you will remember I did say A Bridge Too Far was an uneven film. Most of that comes in its scope, or its wish to be an epic movie. A Bridge Too Far is so large that at times it is hard to keep track of what is happening, why it is happening or where it is happening. For as graphic and detailed as the action scenes were, there were a few times when I had no idea who I was watching fight. This creates an overall sense that you are watching a technical exercise, but one that lacks any emotional punch because you’re never quite sure what you should be feeling.

There are other small problems, clunky dialogue and some iffy casting, but they don’t detract from the film as much as size does. What it all boils down to is whether or not you appreciate the technical achievements of A Bridge Too Far enough to view it as a good movie? I did, so of course I am going to recommend A Bridge Too Far, but merely on a technical level. If you are looking for a great war story, then look somewhere else, but if you want to see a technically proficient war movie a bit ahead of its time you can’t go wrong with A Bridge Too Far.




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