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Richard Attenborough
Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Ryan O'Neal
Writing Credits:
William Goldman

September 1944: The Allies attempt to capture several strategically important bridges in the Netherlands in the hope of breaking the German lines.

Box Office:
$27 million.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Dolby 4.0
French Dolby 5.1
Spanish Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 176 min.
Price: $7.98
Release Date: 6/3/2008

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A Bridge Too Far [Blu-Ray] (1977)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 15, 2021)

While not the first or the last film about World War II, 1977’s A Bridge Too Far might offer the most star-studded. The movie encounters stiff competition in that regard, but with a cast that involves a seemingly endless roster of famous actors, Bridge feels tough to beat.

After the success of the Normandy Invasion in June 1944, Allied forces want to consolidate their progress against the Germans. Now that the Allies once again possess control of most of France, they hope to deal a fatal blow to their opponents.

This leads to September 1944’s Operation Market Garden, a plan to secure various bridges that would allow the Allies to push forward and break the German lines. Unsurprisingly, the Germans don’t take this incursion lying down, a fact that leads to peril for the Allied soldiers.

Given my opening reference to the enormous number of stars involved with Bridge, it may surprise that my synopsis mentions none of them – or any characters at all. Some of this stems from the nature of the story, as Bridge offers a global view of the topic, one that doesn’t allow for a deep dive into details about the participants.

And with so many big names to feed, we simply won’t find that many get a ton of screen time. Indeed, it becomes inevitable that the viewer will refer to most of the characters by the actors’ names, mainly because we don’t get to know them well enough to remember them otherwise.

Director Richard Attenborough attempts stabs at emotion, but much of the film feels technical and more focused on strategy/details than the human side. Granted, this changes somewhat as the film progresses, but given the enormous cast of participants, we bond too loosely with any of them to invest much in their fates.

All of this leads to a surprisingly bloodless affair. Bridge offers an unusual subject, as it depicts a failed Allied operation. Usually we get movies where the Allies emerge victorious, so the choice to show an event that didn’t go well offers intrigue.

Unfortunately, Attenborough’s broad net means that the material fails to make much of an impact. Bridge does offer isolated scenes that work well, especially in terms of some battles, as those occasionally stir to life.

However, these vivid sequences remain in the minority. Most of Bridge comes across as slow and semi-inert, a war tale with too little focus to make a dent.

The Disc Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B+/ Bonus D-

A Bridge Too Far appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with a decent but dated presentation.

Sharpness seemed adequate but rarely better. While some elements – usually daytime exteriors – offered fairly good delineation, others seemed on the slightly soft side.

Light edge haloes compounded this factor, as did the apparent use of noise reduction. Grain seemed lighter than expected, and fine detail felt inconsistent.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized. In terms of print flaws, occasional examples of small specks appeared, but these remained modest.

Colors usually appeared somewhat bland. The film opted for a natural palette that offered acceptable range but the hies rarely came across as full and rich.

Blacks felt reasonably deep, while shadows offered mostly positive detail. Though the image never became terrible, it seemed inconsistent and less than impressive.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it worked well for its age. On the positive side, the soundfield provided a solid sense of depth and breadth throughout the movie.

The forward speakers demonstrated good localization across the channels, as a mix of effects popped up usefully from the sides. Sounds moved cleanly across the front channels and they blended together quite well. Localized speech seemed pretty well-placed as well.

Surrounds kicked in with a decent amount of information during appropriate scenes. The battle sequences were the main beneficiaries of this trend, but don’t expect much excitement.

The back speakers tended to reinforce various elements like explosions and gunfire, and they also occasionally threw in unique elements. The soundscape wasn’t up to modern standards, of course, but it added some pizzazz.

Audio quality was also fine for its age. Speech showed a little edginess at times but usually appeared acceptably natural. Music seemed well-reproduced and bright.

Effects were more than adequate. While I’d be hard-pressed to call them especially realistic by today’s standards, they showed perfectly acceptable clarity and depth.

Battle scenes boasted some slightly loose but generally full bass response. For a nearly 45-year-old movie, this was a pretty good soundtrack.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we find promos for Platoon, Flyboys and Windtalkers. No other extras appear here.

Despite the involvement of many notables in front of and behind the camera, A Bridge Too Far never really kicks into gear. The movie offers occasional intrigue but it offers such a broad depiction of events that it rarely hits home. The Blu-ray boasts surprisingly good audio but visuals seem lackluster and the disc lacks bonus materials. Though it depicts an important historical event, Bridge doesn’t connect on a consistent basis.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
0 3:
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