“ Genre: War & Western - War / Theatrical Release: 1954 / Director: Michael Anderson / Actors: Richard Todd, Michael Redgrave ... / DVD released 08 January, 2007 at Optimum Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: Full Screen, PAL „
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Director: Michael Anderson.
Writers: R.C. Sheriff and Paul Brickhill
Stars: Richard Todd, Michael Redgrave, Ursula Jeans and Basil Sydney.
Music by Eric Coates, (creating a very well known theme tune)
Released in May 1955 this 2 hour war time movie depicts the true story of how one mans idea became embedded in history to be remembered for ever...
** BRIEF PLOT **
During World war two (1943) Doctor Barnes Wallis, (played by Michael Redgrave) is attempting to build a special type of bomb which he hopes can be used to destroy certain German dams... knowing that dropping normal bombs on the dams will have little effect he comes up with the idea of a bouncing bomb...but this bomb has many difficulties for it to complete its object.
Wallis must overcome many problems surrounding the bomb, firstly persuading a certain Sir Arthur Harris, (played by Basil Sydney) that his idea will work, after being refused funding my the MOD, then perfecting the large globe so that it can be used as it should be...
So whilst Wallis perfects his creation it is up to Harris to find some of the finest pilot to recruit into his newly formed team, calling it 617 Squadron, led by Wing commander Guy Gibson, (played by Richard Todd), with the plan of flying several Lancaster Bombers deep into the German land to destroy Dams which are defended by heavy artillery... code naming the mission 'operation Chastise'
Only the plan is not as simple as it sounds, with many dangers to overcome, not least the fact that the massive Lancaster Bombers have to fly at a very low altitude and the bombs have to be dropped at exactly the rights moment using only a Spotlight altimeter for guidance... whilst evading the constant bombardment of anti-aircraft fire from the German defences.
It is down to the brains of Wallis and his rather silly looking invention, together with the skills of the R.A.F. 617 squadron pilots to get the outcome that is planned...
** IN CONCLUSION **
I was sort of introduced to this film when clips of it where shown during a history lesson at school, (many years ago now I'm afraid)...together with other clips of Upper Derwent dam, where the raids were practiced and also where some of the movie was shot... regarding the fly through Ruhr valley in Germany.
When I actually watched the movie years later I was quite impressed by the story, knowing that this movie is based on the true story of Operation Chastise, where over 50 brave men lost there lives for the sake of others made me see this one a little differently, and although it is just over two hours long I sat through the entire movie with no sign of dissatisfaction.
The movie, although slightly inaccurate from the actual Operation, (as I did study this at school), is fantastically told, without diminishing the pilots who lost there lives on this mission in May 1943)
It is a great entertaining movie revolving around two main parts... firstly, Dr Barnes Wallis and his desire to perfect his invention, testing and improving until satisfied his idea will not fail...and secondly, following the crew of 617 squadron and their need to practice flying such big planes at such low altitudes... rehearsal after rehearsal before the real thing.
The pace of the movie isn't your usual fast action Hollywood blockbuster but as it is trying to tell a story of true courage and unselfish behaviour it doesn't need to be an action packed thriller with over the top special effects. It is told at a adequate speed and as close to the true event as possible without going over the top and spoiling the good name of the 53 men that never returned...
Although some people may find this sort of movie a little boring, especially younger children who have no idea as to what the movie is about, it is sort of a piece of movie history and it's story should always be remembered...
It is without doubt one of the best movie of its time to hit the screen and to re-master it in 2007 has done it no end of good, bringing the past into the present with dignity and grace...
In all a truly fantastic Sunday afternoon viewing for all the family, (you never know, the kids might learn something new...) with a historical story to convey, without doubt well worth the £6.00 from www.amazon.co.uk
*Would I recommend this..?
Yes I certainly would, but as I said, it may not be to every ones taste.
It is worth watching at least once, and I believe after seeing it you'll not be disappointed.
** Unfortunately and possibly very sadly,
As I do believe a remake is on the cards sometime in 2009, involving Universal pictures/ Hollywood, and I can see the truth being utterly distorted beyond belief and you know the Americans will be somehow be seen as the heroes in this one...again re-writing history for the younger viewers... so I plead to anyone who is listening, leave this movie alone... it is a classic and should not be butchered by the Americans just for a few bucks profit...
*Some other stars
Basil Sydney as Sir Arthur Harris
Ursula Jeans as Mrs Wallis
Ernest Clark as Honorable Ralph Cochrane
Stanley Van Beers as Sir David Pye
Patrick Barr as Captain Joseph Summers
Derek Farr as Group Captain J N H Whitworth
Colin Tapley as Dr. W H Glanville
Harold Goodwin as Wing Comdr. Gibson's Batman
Richard Leech as Squadron Leader H.M. Young
Raymond Huntley as Laboratory Official
Based on the true story of the dam busters this film is probably the best war film I have ever seen. Although the graphics of flac are rubbish, what can you expect seeing as it was made about 10 years after the war had finished. Being so near to the end of the war this means that they probably got more of the true facts right. Barnes Wallis the designer of the Wellington bomber tries to find a way to destroy the dams of the main rivers in Germany. The idea was to destroy industrial plants and although it didn't really affect the Germans in the short run but in the long run it put Britain’s morale up so high the Germans couldn't possibly break it. Wallis designs a bomb for the Lancaster bomber which at the right height and right distance away will explode at exactly the right place on the dam wall. Commander Guy Gibson was leader of the squadron. After coming back 50 men were lost and Wallis wonders if it really was worth designing the bomb in the first place. The part I liked best was when they succeeded but the part I didn't like was when Gisbon's dog was killed by a car.
This black and white film really is one of the all time classic war films. The film is set in 1942 of the Second World War and follows the events of the specially formed RAF 617 Squadron. This squadron was given the task of destroying the huge dams in the Ruhr valley of Germany in order to flood the steel factories of the area and also to deprive them of the water needed for the steel making process. The dams were heavily defended and so a special bomb was needed and the brilliant inventor Barnes Wallis was given the challenge of how to attack the dams. Wallis came up with the idea of a bouncing bomb that would detonate under the water next to the dam wall and destroy the dam using the power of the water behind the dam to help break down the wall. The task needed a high quality of pilot and so the special squadron was formed of some of the best bomber crews in the country. This film follows the whole of this story from the initial ideas of Barnes Wallis to the attack on the dams. Michael Redgrave plays the part of Barnes Wallis and is very convincing in this role. Wing Commander Guy Gibson, who is played by Richard Todd, leads the squadron. Todd comes across as the typical British RAF officer, very public school and ready to obey orders to the last letter without question. The film is very well made and even though it is nearly 50 years old it still portrays a great achievement of British history really well. Because the film is in black and white is has the feel of being actual footage. The atmosphere of the men is captured well showing how they prepared for the attack by practising night and day, even though they did not know their target or the true nature of their mission. This is the sort of film that can be watched over and over again, if for no other reason than just to admire what a great man Barnes Wallis really was. The theme music of the film is very catchy and you will find yourself
humming it for days after watching the film. If you enjoy Second World War films then this is one that you really must watch.
World War II adventure which centres around the RAF and their efforts to destroy the Ruhr dams in 1943.