Movie # 49: The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968)


Well it’s finally happened.  I have to question the inclusion of this film as a “501 must-see movie.”  I just don’t see it.

The Charge of the Light Brigade in my opinion fails to merit inclusion in this book.  But I wasn’t consulted, and that is that.

The film chronicles the British military as it entered the Crimean War in the mid 1800s, and culminates in the disaster that took place with the Charge of the Light Brigade.  The Light Brigade refers to the cavalry division of the British Army, at the time considered one of the best in the world, took a decisive blow at the hands of the Russians.

Captain Nolan (David Hemmings) is a competent leader with battlefield experience.  Unfortunately for him, the others in command look down on him because he fought in India, and unlike the others in command, Nolan did not buy his way into his command.

The first two-thirds of the film takes place on the home front and describes a lot of the military at the time: generals believe war can be civil and their troops are disposable in any way necessary to further their own careers.  Feuding over petty things is prevalent among the commanding officers, even to the point at the end of the film where they argue over who is to blame, or arguing how each one is not to blame for the failure of the mission.

While at home a non-commissioned officer is flogged and stripped of his title for showing up drunk, once.  The years this particular soldier has put in to gain the rank he’d achieved was lost in an instant, and he’d lost his pension as well.

For being drunk on the job.


Captain Nolan is reprimanded for ordering wine at dinner when the commanding officer insists everyone drinks champagne.  He has a great quote after they’ve been on their campaign that describes the incompetence of the higher-ups.   He says if they should go to war they should be willing to fight fiercely, and to fight fiercely they’d need to be willing to fight to the death.  He recognizes that manners and proper conduct have no place on the battlefield.  In an otherwise boring and drawn out film, this kind of brute honestly was refreshing to see.

There are some things that work with this film.  The inter-laid political cartoons push the story along and reflect the general consensus from the eyes of the common British citizen.

The film itself was a failure at the box office: it featured a big-name cast, but no one wanted to see it.  I knew very little, and still know very little, about the Crimean War, though I enjoy studying history.  While I’m sure there is truth to their portrayal, I found the bickering and arguing among the commanding officers to get horribly tedious, repetitive  and boring.  For a two-hour movie, there is very little that I found memorable about The Charge of the Light Brigade.

It goes without saying that I wouldn’t recommend, nor do I intend to watch this film again.  Though there are moments of good mixed in, the bad and boring are far more present in The Charge of the Light Brigade

My Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars


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