Even we had our version of the Alamo, I’m not sure how many times the events has been depicted on film the events of the Operation Market Garden that saw combined allied troops attempting to take a number of bridges in occupied Holland in 1944. Depicted here in A Bridge Too Far (1977) skilfully directed by the legendary Richard Attenborough who brings together another all-star cast of actors who have varying screen times on this epic film that sees the planning of the operation with Lieutenant General Browning (Dirk Bogarde) with a group of high-ranking officers from across the spectrum of allied armed forces. Some seem out-of-place, such as Brigadier General Gavin (Ryan O’Neal) who is far too young to believe, whilst Major General Sosabowski (Gene Hackman) has an indistinguisgable accents, is he Irish, Scottish or another nationality that is not mentioned. Putting that aside they are the big guns of the 1970′s, especially with a former James Bond (Sean Connery) in the cast.
Putting all that aside we have what could be seen as the decades The Longest Day (1962) which sadly failed. There are a number of problems that saw them fail, from ignoring intelligence, to the good old British weather that stopped drops being made. And not forgetting the wrong crystals in the radio sets, stopping them from communicating with the HQ in Britain, only able to communicate within a short-range. It seem things from the outset of landing on the ground miles over enemy lines, it was never going to plan. We still had some hope in the form of the complacent Germans who even after finding the plans, believed they were false plans. Much like a few months earlier D-day when they had to wait for orders from a sleeping leader before being able to fend off an allied attack. something’s rarely change in cinema, I like that.
There is some innovating cinematography such as a paratroopers view of a landing, putting you in the place of solider on the ground, before pulling back to a safe distance. It’s hard at times to see our own troops being almost obliterated and humiliated in front of the enemy. With so many faces it’s hard at times to keep up with who is who. Yet we always know what side they are on. There is so much to take in.
It’s a classic British war film that in the great tradition of cinema, celebrates the armed forces, not just the victories but the valiant attempts to carry out brave missions that could and can go completely wrong, and that’s what makes this film stand the test of time, with famous faces making it more real for a new generation.
- The Battle of Arnhem (Operation Market Garden) (historychannelfromthewar.com)
- The Battle of Arnhem (Operation Market Garden) (warhistoryonline.com)
- A Bridge Too Far’ – When Masculinity Mattered at the Movies (historychannelfromthewar.com)
- ‘A Bridge Too Far’ – When Masculinity Mattered at the Movies (warhistoryonline.com)
- Picture Perfect Arnhem (fibenton.wordpress.com)
- The resistance leader ‘King Kong’ and operation Market Garden (historychannelfromthewar.com)