The Dam Busters

The Dam Busters

The UK Film Council and BBC 2’s celebration of British film continues with a big-screen showing of Michael Anderson’s 1955 WWII matinée mainstay about the RAF’s efforts to destroy three key Ruhr Valley dams using eccentric aircraft designer Barnes Wallis’s bizarre bouncing bombs. The first half of this stiff upper-lipper centres on Wallis’ initial frustration in the face of bureaucratic apathy and the eventual official go-ahead and final preparation stages, before the action is ramped up for the mission itself.

Seeing it again after so many decades, one can’t help but notice the by-numbers structural simplicity of the film, the use of Queen’s English throughout, and how the word ‘nigger’ (in this case the codeword for one of the dams) could be bandied about with such jaw-dropping nonchalance. It’s a film built on the eureka moment: you can just imagine audiences back then cheering the screen at the sight of the first dam blowing, and being wholly impressed by the hilariously elementary special effects. But it’s Eric Coates’ rousing militaristic signature tune that, in hindsight, has left the most lasting impression.

Release details

Release date: Tuesday September 4 2007
Duration: 119 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Michael Anderson
Screenwriter: RC Sherriff
Cast: Michael Redgrave
Richard Todd
Ursula Jeans
Derek Farr
Patrick Barr
John Fraser
George Baker
Brewster Mason
Basil Sydney
Robert Shaw

Average User Rating

5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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Hazel

Hadn't seen it for nearly twenty years. It still holds up as one of my favorite war films. Music is brilliant.

Hazel

Hadn't seen it for nearly twenty years. It still holds up as one of my favorite war films. Music is brilliant.

Pauline, England

A great, classic film - due to be shown on the big screen soon as part of the Great British Film Summer Season 2007 - can't wait!

Pauline, England

A great, classic film - due to be shown on the big screen soon as part of the Great British Film Summer Season 2007 - can't wait!