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(Review originally written at 22 June 2006)

The story set around and about 'Operation Market Garden' itself, seems like good enough material to make a good movie with. It however is a very complex thing when one tries to tell the story of 'Operation Market Garden' from every view point possible; Americans, the Polish, the Britts, Germans, the Dutch. This movie tells all of the stories of basically every brigade involved during the 'Operation Market Garden'. Sounds like a great and fair tribute to all those who were involved. After all I often hear people complaining when an Hollywood WW II movie only focuses on the Americans, as if they were the only ones who fought and help to win WW II. To those persons who often complain about this, I recommend them to watch this movie. They will have to come to the conclusion that a movie that tells the story from every point of view, is unnecessarily confusion, overlong and focuses on far too many characters and plot-lines.

The failure of the (over)ambitious 'Operation Market Garden' is a fascinating story. Had the operation fully succeeded, it would had ended the war before Christmas 1944. This movie does provide good information about the mission and the battles fought during it and the parties involved. Purely based on that this movie is a good and educational one as well. A movie however needs more than just a fascinating premise. There are several problems with "A Bridge Too Far" that make this movie a, what I would like to call, flawed grand epic. The movie is still big and uses lots of sets and extras but none of it really impresses since the movie tries to cover way too much of the story and focuses too little on the effects of the war on the characters. It makes the movie feel very stylized and not humane and realistic enough.

There are countless unnecessary sequences but above all there are way too many and unnecessary characters. The movie has an immensely impressive looking all-star cast but at the same time that also is the down fall of the movie. Basically every star of the movie is given just as much screen time. Sounds fair but it just doesn't work out well enough. The movie doesn't always flow well because of this and the movie focuses on way too many characters that remain too shallow, a direct result of the fact that the movie tries to cover too much story and characters. Sure, most actors are a delight to watch in this movie and they probably also are one of the reasons why this movie still remains a perfectly good one to watch. But just think about it. Were the Ryan O'Neal, Laurence Olivier, Liv Ullmann roles, for instance, really necessary? They add nothing to the story and you might even say that their roles only work distracting. They and many others, play roles in the movie, that in any other normal movie would had been an 5 seconds role but however due to the fact that they are being portrayed by big-name actors, the roles are far too much extended and stretched out. This really is the biggest problem of the movie.

A result of this all is that the movie also remains a pretty shallow one. It's just a documentary like observation of the events which occurred and it fails to capture any emotion or show the true horrors of war.

The movie is however a good looking one. It's pretty obvious that not all the money was just spend on the cast. The settings are good and the movie was filmed in- or directly around the places at which the events of 'Operation Market Garden' also occurred in real life. It gives the movie a certain bit of extra and adds some realism. The movie becomes nowhere exactly spectacular but there are some well filmed battle sequences that don't really impress but are good and memorable enough.

The musical score by John Addison is very good and makes the movie also very recognizable, unfortunately it was the only good and memorable score by Addison, at least that I know of.

Richard Attenborough's movies always have both hits and misses and that goes for this movie more than any of his other's. This movie has many misses but still the positive things about the movie make this a, still good enough one, to watch.

It still is the ultimate movie to watch if you're interested in 'Operation Market Garden', however if you like a good WW II movie that is realistic and impressive to watch, this is not a movie for you.

7/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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