HiT Charge of the Light Brigade

Director Tony Richardson came from a background of kitchen sink dramas that challenged the accepted social norms. In Charge of the Light Brigade, he brought that same critical eye to one of the iconic events of Imperial Britain – a very different approach to Errol Flynn in 1936.

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The Scores

The 1968 film, Charge of the Light Brigade, had a more equivocal response from critics and audiences, though still positive. Can I confess that when I saw it first I was pretty young, and all the polemical stuff passed straight over ,my head or confused me… it was a war and glory period in my life.

HiT Scores 2nd Sep


The History in Technicolor Scores and debate on A Man for All Seasons

It was a great debate, loved every minute of it, thanks. And basically, you love A Man for All Seasons, though it’s earnest and theatrical feel probably meant it scored a little lower than some.


HoE FB Sept 2


3 thoughts on “HiT Charge of the Light Brigade

  1. Something that strikes me is the different way(s) we use the past over time, and how the same piece of popular culture (or anything, really) can be used to advance different messages suited to the tenor of the times.

    I’ve not seen the movie, but you gentlemen described it as satirical, anti-war, and so on. The reading of the poem at the end was quite opposite—as, of course, was the original spirit. But I have seen the poem with that verse struck out, and when you do that, it suddenly becomes a lot less certain and celebratory and gung-ho—to say nothing of a lot less Victorian. Has anyone else seen it abridged (and changed) like this?

    This happens to the poem “In Flanders Fields” on a huge scale. Quote those lines to random people on the street, and I bet they’ll tell you it’s another of those jaded poems questioning the pointless muck and death of the trenches of World War I. Indeed, in a couple months, as we approach Veterans / Armistice / Remembrance Day (the 100th anniversary, no less), I fully expect to see internet memes casting McCrae’s poem as anti-war. But that only works when you (once again) cut out the final, much-less-quoted, verse. Those last six lines change everything.

    1. I see your point if this be the poem:
      In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
      That mark our place; and in the sky
      The larks, still bravely singing, fly
      Scarce heard amid the guns below.

      We are the Dead. Short days ago
      We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
      Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
      In Flanders fields.

      Take up our quarrel with the foe:
      To you from failing hands we throw
      The torch; be yours to hold it high.
      If ye break faith with us who die
      We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
      In Flanders fields.

      In fact it sounds rather warmonger like. Tennyson’s poem I think was not jingoistic necessarily; it honoured the bravery of the Light Brigade, bt there’s nothing of the celebratory in terms of Imperialism and Empire – it says very clearly someone blundered.

      But I agree – people use and reinterpret historical events according to their viewpoint. And probably understand them quite differently too.
      Thank you for your comment – quite an eye opener in terms of In Flanders Field

  2. As a Canadian from a military family, I have never understood those who think of In Flanders Fields as an anti-war poem — probably because I was taught to see those last lines as the part where McCrae makes his point.

    I first saw The Charge of the Light Brigade as a teenager, circa 1970, and even then I understood it to be about Class with a capital C, and only incidentally about War And All Its Horrors. The two elements of it that stuck in memory were the subplot about Mrs Duberly having a fling with Lord Cardigan (because of Trevor Howard’s corset, most likely), and a musical vignette in which a trooper sings My Heart’s In The Highlands as he polishes his boots and the camera pans over the brigade bivouac. When I recently saw the film again, I was far less impressed, finding it far more about 1968 than 1854.

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