Plot: What’s it about?
A bridge can be a very important structure, as whoever controls a bridge also controls traffic to the other side, which means transportation can be stopped or delayed. During times of war, a bridge is even more vital, especially if the bridge is large and the only way across a river. Without the bridge, the troops would have swim across, and toting supplies or vehicles would be extremely difficult, sometimes impossible. As such, much attention was paid to the bridges during World War II, and sometimes a battle for a single bridge could have consequences that could chance the face and flow of the entire war. The battle over a bridge on the Rhine would have just such deep reaching consequences, and both sides had a lot riding on the outcome. This was the final bridge on the Rhine that Germany had control over, and they needed to move the fifty-thousand troops from one side of the bridge, to aid them in their failing struggle in the war. But the Americans have no intentions of allowing the Germans to cross the bridge, seeking a quick and lethal end to the war. With the forces on both sides giving all they have, one side is bound to come up short.
While good war movies have been few and far between on our beloved format, over the last six months or so, a plethora of excellent war flicks have been released. This movie is one of the better war movies that has been delivered, and I am pleased I can finally add it to my collection. When I watch this movie, the action seems so real, so powerful and emotional, which really makes the film bring home the feeling that we’re watching a war documentary or something. I learned in the production notes that some of this realism stems from the fact that the film was shot in Czechoslovakia, where the events depicted in the film occurred. While the cast and crew were shooting the film, a new invasion came through town, and the Russian forces were suspicious of them, even confiscating some of their costumes and props. During the scenes with tanks and other military vehicles, the Russians watched from MIGs, making sure the crew was just making a movie. Even under all this pressure, including leaving the area only an hour before Russia closed the borders, the film shines, showing no negative signs of the events that happened around it. I recommend the movie very highly to those looking for gritty war movies, and war movie buffs will want to make sure this disc has a place in their collection.
The director of this movie, John Guillerman, is no stranger to war movies, having also directed Guns At Batisi and The Blue Max. Guillerman does a fine job of bringing war epics to the screen, but his resume isn’t limited to that genre, however. Guillerman also helmed such movies as King Kong (1976), The Towering Inferno, and even Shaft in Africa, a personal favorite of mine. The cast for this movie consists of several actors, each with about equal roles. No one really takes the leading role, so the actors work as a team to carry the movie, which fits with the roles they play. George Segal (Rollercoaster, Deadly Game), Ben Gazzara (Road House, Buffalo ’66), Robert Vaughn (The Magnificent Seven, Bullit), Bradford Dillman (The Way We Were, Piranha), Peter Van Eyck (The Wages of Fear), and E.G. Marshall (Tora! Tora! Tora!, Miss Ever’s Boys) garner most of the screen time, and bring the events to life. As you can tell from the small filmographies I supplied, these men are no strangers to war movies, and their experience shows here, with great performances all around. The team effort shows on screen, as they work cohesively and as a fluid team.
Video: How does it look?
The Bridge At Remagen is presented in a 2.35:1 widescreen transfer, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. While the print shows it’s age at times with flecks and nicks, the overall image is quite good. Aside from some slight edge enhancement, compression errors are absent. The movie uses a natural scope of color, so while they may seem muted and not bright, that is an intentional effect. Contrast levels in the outside scenes are very good, but the interior segments can sometimes be a little too dark, which obscures detail level at times. On the whole however, you’re simply not going to find a better looking version of this movie.
Audio: How does it sound?
The original mono track is used for audio, which is adequate if a bit limited. While I am pleased the original track is included, I can only imagine how awesome a surround remaster would sound. The mono manages to bring out the elements without serious issues, except the ones that come standard with the mono format. I will say this is one of the better sounding mono tracks I’ve heard, and is quite crisp, missing the usual hiss that mono contains. Would a 5.1 surround remaster sound awesome? Yes. Does this track get the job done? Yes.
Supplements: What are the extras?
An insert booklet has some interesting facts about the shoot, and the theatrical trailer is included on the disc.