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The Big Red One: The Reconstruction (Two-Disc Special Edition) [Import]

Lee Marvin , Mark Hamill , Samuel Fuller    R (Restricted)   DVD
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 18.70 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Sam Fuller's The Big Red One was already one of the best films of 1980, despite the fact that the version released to theaters ran barely half as long as the director's cut. Fuller had been America's ballsiest B-movie auteur, an ex-newspaper reporter of the hardnosed breed who made fiercely personal, radically stylized, and politically outspoken films between the early '50s (The Steel Helmet, Pickup on South Street) and the early '60s (Shock Corridor). The Big Red One was his long-dreamt-of account of World War II as experienced by his own squad of the 1st Infantry Division, USA, from the first shot fired (by a dead man, on the coast of North Africa) to the last (in a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia).

Even in the studio-truncated version, there was no shortage of astonishing moments and sequences: the squad choking on dust in a bat-filled cave in North Africa as German tanks clatter past the entrance; Fuller's cold-blooded distillation of the D-Day slaughter on Omaha Beach, with a wrist watch on a dead arm in the surf marking time as the water slopping over it grows redder; the rifle squad delivering a Frenchwoman's baby in a German tank on a battlefield full of corpses; a commando-like raid on Nazi troops bivouacked in a Belgian insane asylum. A quarter-century later, film critic Richard Schickel and Warner Bros. executive Brian Jamieson succeeded in restoring 15 never-seen sequences and fleshing out 23 others to create The Big Red One: The Reconstruction, a "new" film nearly an hour longer.

Above all, BR1: The Reconstruction has a rhythm the 1980 cut lacked. The arc of years, battles, and battlegrounds is so much more satisfying. Greater play is given to Fuller's feeling for children caught up in the sidewash of history and atrocity. And the 2004 cut puts sex back into the movie, not orgiastically but as a fact of life and a rarely forgotten driving force. We can see now that Fuller touched, bluntly and shockingly, on the phenomenon of infiltrators--English-speaking German warriors who donned GI khaki and moved among their enemies waiting for a chance to strike.

It's also apparent, as it was not in 1980, that Lee Marvin as the eternal Sergeant leading the young squad is magnificent. This was Marvin's greatest role, rivaled only by his walking dead man in John Boorman's Point Blank. Just beneath the masterly implacability, we glimpse the tenderness, rage, dark humor, experience, and wisdom beyond guilt that have enabled him to survive, to preserve others and to soldier on. His performance, like Fuller's film, is a masterpiece. --Richard T. Jameson


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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Everything you could possibly ever want to know. Feb. 23 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This re-construction of the hacked up mess that was 'The Big Red One' is the pet project of film critic, Richard Schickel. I have other DVDs with Schickel doing commentaries. He's okay. He knows his film history, but I always find his comments sort of on the surface. He doesn't achieve the depth of analysis that I like when I listen to someone like Christopher Frayling. And, since this is his project and he loves Sam Fuller, he's a bit blind to the merits of the film itself. In my humble opinion, except for David Lean, film directors working prior to the 1990s make better films from short, tight, concise scripts than sprawling, boring, never-ending Epic screenplays and Mr. Fuller is no exception. This film simply has too much in it... Sam's actual experiences in WWII, from N. Africa to Sicily to France to Belgium to Germany to Czechoslovakia. Way too much. Spread too thin, Lots of short choppy scenes. Think about "Private Ryan". They land on the beach, they get the mission, they go 50 miles inland, they find Ryan, they defend the bridge... end of story. You know? Less is more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars July 4 2014
By jo
Format:Blu-ray
Excellent product, delivered as promised
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5.0 out of 5 stars good price, came in good time July 25 2014
By Ramon
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
God quality, good price, came in good time.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars OVERALL SCORE: (B+) Dec 30 2003
Format:DVD
This is one of the more stunning and profound cinematic portraits of the Second World War. It is an unflinching window into the surrealistic exploits of warriors in combat. This is by far a more worthwhile movie then many later attempts, that fail to emotionally grip you, instead relying on computer effects for drama.
OVERALL SCORE: (B+)
PLOT: (B), ACTING: (B-), DIALOGUE: (B-), SETTING: (C), ACTION/COMBAT: (B), ANTAGONISTS: (B), ROMANCE: (n/a), AGE LEVEL: (PG)
Other great war movies; The Longest Day (1962), We Were Soldiers (2002), Gallipoli (1981), Attack Force Z (1982), Cross of Iron (1976), A Bridge Too Far (1977), or The Dirty Dozen (1967).
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not Great... June 5 2005
By A Customer
Format:DVD
One of my all time favourite war movies. Unfortunately, the re-edit seems a little choppy with scenes that were cut out of the original for a reason (they took away from the pace or the acting was just plain bad) being added back in for no apparent reason other than to lengthen the movie. Still, a must have for the war movie collector.
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5.0 out of 5 stars nearly forgotten and underappreciated Jan. 23 2003
Format:VHS Tape
After finally seeing this wonderful movie,I am stunned anyone would not consider it one of the great films.The pacing is so casual and relaxed in places it reminds me of Fellini.Some reviews correctly mention that the battle scenes are brief and somewhat underproduced,but they are secondary to the subtle poetic images Sam Fuller is putting on the screen.If you have seen other Fuller films as I have,it is unbelievable he was able to reach this pinnacle of creativity.Lee Marvin is too old for his part but no other actor could have played it as well.There are many delights to see and hear.To me it is the best war movie ever made. Kubrick,Coppola and Speilberg all made terrific films about war,but Fuller faced enemy guns in battle. His real experiences translate an unmistakeable authenticity into every frame.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Um, little reality check Jan. 22 2003
Format:DVD
P>As a child growing up and watching this movie, yes, I felt the John Wayne-esque drive to mimic the "stormin' the beaches of Normandy", but this film also taught the various "cliche" horrors of war that aren't often seen(civilians living in filth and destruction, their hate of their conquerors, the puppet French, hiding in foxholes only to get run over by tanks, the possiblity of losing a testicle - no joke - by a mine, etc.) I'm not sure of the Big Red One's "first in everywhere" policy, but the locales depicted in the movie (North Africa, Sicily, Normandy) are factually correct. Not unlike The Longest Day, there is some Uber Hollywood moments, but enough fact to make it worth while. You could do worse than this movie.
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2.0 out of 5 stars "For Fuller's honesty and verve"? Dec 11 2002
Format:DVD
Now that's funny. I'm quoting boydjt below of course. Looks like another one slipped through that pesky 'dont ask, dont tell' policy. But I feel better knowing that we're being defended by the new army where a good vocabulary is important, albeit a limp wristed one. Verve? hahahahaa
Nobody is attacking Fuller's diary or his experiences. It's just a lousy movie. I'm not saying the man didnt serve his country gallantly, but he sure as hell didnt serve Hollywood in the same way. One of the most ill-conceived unwatchable films ever produced and probably thee worst WWII movie ever made. Unworthy of further comment. Just pathetic...you are forewarned.
2 cartridges, one for that Caradine guy and the other for Luke Skywalker. Ask the guys from Jackass what to do with them.
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