Operation Market Garden, September 1944: The Allies attempt to capture several strategically important bridges in the Netherlands in the hope of breaking the German lines. However, mismanagement and poor planning result in its failure.
The true story of Operation Market Garden, the Allies attempt, in September 1944, to hasten the end of WW2 by driving through Belgium and Holland into Germany. The idea was for US airborne divisions to take the towns of Eindhoven and Nijmegen and a British airborne division, reinforced by a Polish airborne brigade, to take the town of Arnhem. They would be reinforced, in due course and in turn, by the British XXX Corps, land-based and driving up from the British lines in the south. The key to the operation was the bridges, as if the Germans held or blew them, the paratroopers could not be relieved. Faulty intelligence, Allied high command hubris and stubborn German resistance would ensure that Arnhem was a bridge too far. Written by
Mothers would lose their sons, wives, their husbands, girls their lovers, children their fathers and thousands of gallant young men would perish fighting against impossible odds, for a mission that would change the meaning of the word courage for all time...and for a bridge. A lousy bridge. See more »
The producers were only able to locate four of the many Sherman tanks seen on the screen. The rest were plastic molds set on top of 88" Land Rovers. Volkswagen Beetle chassis were used for German Kubelwagens. The tank treads didn't reach the ground, but the film is edited so that this isn't noticeable (except in the section after Elliott Gould cries, "Roll 'em, fellas" there are shots of the tanks rolling over the bridge. One tank is seen silhouetted against the background and its tracks are clearly not moving as fast as they should be if the tank were real). At about fifty-seven minutes into the film, as the Shermans are heading up the road, the last Sherman seen (the fifth one) is floating a few inches off the ground. If you look quickly, you'll just see the rear left wheel from one of the Land Rovers. See more »
During shots of Nijmegen, the tower of the Sint Stevenschurch is standing tall. In fact the tower was destroyed by an American bombing off Nijmegen in February 1944. It was not put back on the church until the late sixties. The opening of the renewed tower was in 1969. See more »
A Bridge Too Far was the last of a long line of the "General's" war-films that came out of Hollywood since WWII. Afterwards, the production for these films wavered, probably because of the fact that A Bridge Too Far did not fare so well in the box office.
One of the main reasons A Bridge Too Far did not succeed as it might have was because of the American audience. The film was a) targeted towards a British audience and b) made very soon after the end of America's involvement in Vietnam. The combination of time and subject killed the film. But anyone can tell you that every time this film is shown on a TV broadcast, the ratings are quite high.
The film itself, contrary to what many would claim, IS NOT another glorification of American heroism. While there is a certain American involvement which is rightly due, the film is very much centered on the Brits at Arnhem. Afterall, they were the ones that got massacred, right? Adding to that, the initial setup of the operation (which the film took surprisingly long to cover, and probably killed off the interest of the average movie-goer/critic) was almost solely concerned with the British planning, with one or two references to the American G.I. (I guess they had to put in those mini-episodes of American servicemen to attract the American viewing public).
But enough about the bad side of the film, now onto the amazing part:
This is the first film I have seen from that generation to create a realistic picture of what the setting was like (down to the very streets and houses of Holland, which, for comparison, The Battle of the Bulge managed to get ALL wrong --- as a sidenote: if you have seen the aforementioned film, have you noticed how during the climatic battle, tanks drove across a DESERT? The battle took place in January during the WORST winter storm of Europe in Belgium... and how they managed to convince the public that if a tank is painted with an iron cross, even though it's an American M48 main battle tank built in the late 50's, that it must be a German Tiger tank... sorry for the rambling). I am most impressed by the Arnhem bridge itself (sadly, they dedicated much too short a sequence of cheering soldiers to the bridge at Grave, which is probably one of the greatest Allied success EVER for a bridge assault, up there with Remagen and Pegasus), which is shot on location with probably the most accurate feel of just how desperate the situation was (and none of Private Ryan's heroism/John Wayne-invincibility either).
Characters are excellently portrayed, although how they really acted historically might be somewhat different. Camera-work was phenomenal, given the difficulty of shooting on scene (they couldn't close down the Arnhem Bridge for extended periods of time, one must realize). The most dramatic sequence was probably the launch of the planes and the subsequent breakout by XXX Corps, which to this day remains my favourite battle sequence in any movie (yes, even when compared with the Omaha scene from Saving Private Ryan).
Like the movie, my review has become unnecessarily long. But to conclude, this film deserves a good watch, or maybe even a couple of viewings, for any serious history/war-film lover or those who just want to learn more about those who have sacraficed so much for us. 9/10.
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