If the 1935 Hollywood version enshrined Tennysonian heroics, this revisionist spectacular sees the strategic bungling that doomed the Light Brigade as an emblem of Victorian England's moral inadequacy. The jingoistic media (represented by the period caricatures in Richard Williams' splendid animated interludes), an establishment hidebound by ideological intransigence, the lower classes grist to the mill of colonial domination, Richardson lays it all bare. Vietnam's never far from the equation either. Still, coherent drama never emerges from the combination of righteous anger, detailed historical trappings, a stellar cast and Charles Woods' wondrously flowery dialogue. Chief sins are an extraneous romantic subplot and flaccid pacing early on, but the climactic carnage is chilling indeed, and Gielgud and Howard are cherishably distracted and ornery respectively as the military top brass. Bitty, yet fascinating, it's never quite the film it ought to have been.
Cast and crew
Howard Marion Crawford