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on May 17, 2004
This movie was produced by Harry Saltzman, who along with Cubby Broccoli co-produced the early James Bond movies. It was directed by Guy Hamilton who also directed Goldfinger, Diamonds are Forever, and two other of the 007 capers. With that crew you would expect that this would be very much an action-packed movie for guys, and it is. The very limited attempts at human interest sub-plots fail miserably.
Aerial sequences dominate, and there are enough WWII era fighters and bombers, such as Spitfires, Hurricanes, Messerschmitt 109s, Heinkels, and Stukas to satisfy any military hardware nut. No cheating with digital effects when this was made. That means that the aircraft are all flying just as they would have been during the battle of Britain. On the downside, some of the explosions are pretty fake looking by today's standards. But for sheer action and a dramatic re-telling of the story of Britain's courageous and heroic stand against the Nazis, this film cannot be surpassed
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on July 8, 2004
Although made as a tribute to the RAF and this episode in World War II history, it nonetheless followed the successful formula of Tora, Tora, Tora, by making the enemy human and reasonable. It captures the essential spirit of the contestants in this epic air battle. The fact it was done for real, before CGI effects were what they are today, is an asset. There is a reality about it, a versimillitude, that comes from actually using the real articles. It gives the film an authentic look and thus there is no temptation to monkey with history by flooding the skies with an exaggerated computer panoply of planes or having the aircraft demonstrate exciting but very unrealistic maneuvers.
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on June 22, 2003
All of the problems noted by previous reviewers of the DVD are correct: the different opening titles, the changed subtitles, the substitution of the ineffective Walton end title music for Ron Goodwin's beautiful ending, the alternate Churchill quote, the omission of German losses in the tally at the end, etc., etc. Why? Where did this come from? Was it an early version? A British theatrical release that differed from the American release? I also missed the original UA opening logo, which has been replaced by the modern MGM one. Who makes these weird decisions? Did the producers of the DVD have a clue? Did they care? The image quality is good, and no scenes or shots have been cut, as far as I can tell. The aerial scenes are intact. Like others have said, keep your VHS and laserdisc copies. I waited and waited and waited for this DVD, and what a disappointment. Maybe in 10 years there will be another with all these problems corrected, and some extra features.
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on July 5, 2004
Battle of Britain is a huge war epic along the lines of A Bridge too Far and The Longest Day. In the years before the United States entered WWII, England had to hold back Nazi Germany almost singlehandedly. After the disaster at Dunkirk, it looked like there was no stopping the Germans. All that remained was for the German Luftwaffe to weaken England to the point where a land invasion could take place allowing Hitler to take control of Great Britain. The only surviving hope for England was the RAF, Royal Air Force. Hopelessly outnumbered, 2500 German planes to 690 British planes, the RAF had to hold back the Luftwaffe in the skies above England. The movie tells the story, from both sides, of the British pilots and their efforts to stop Germany from complete domination of Western Europe. This movie has the best aerial combat sequences ever put on film. One particularly effective scene has the musical score playing over the silent dogfights between the RAF and the Luftwaffe. Battle of Britain is a great war movie, full of action that should not be missed.
Battle of Britain boasts an impressive cast full of notable British actors. The huge list includes, in alphabetical order, Harry Andrews, Michael Caine, Edward Fox, Trevor Howard, Curt Jurgens, Ian McShane, Kenneth More, Laurence Olivier, Nigel Patrick, Christopher Plummer, Michael Redgrave, Ralph Richardson, Robert Shaw, Patrick Wymark, and Susannah York. The ones that really stand out from the rest are Robert Shaw as a squadron leader trying to get his fighter squadron through the battle and Christopher Plummer as a fighter pilot trying to save his marriage. The DVD offers a great-looking widescreen presentation and the theatrical trailer. For a great war epic with a huge cast and great aerial combat footage, check out Battle of Britain!
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on August 25, 2003
As several reviewers have stated, the DVD version is almost picture perfect, but somehow the final product was fiddled with between the VHS and DVD products. The inclusion of additional subtitles is interesting for those of us who dont speak German.
Again, the real sore point is the altered ending-the original/VHS is much much better than the DVD version. WHy the change??? Whoever suggested it should be fired-the VHS ending is much much better. Still, the DVD is a good buy just for the clearer pictures and yes hopefully they will change back to the original in a "Special Edition".
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on September 7, 2003
I should have read the reviews before buying the D V D.
But as I have an old V H S copy that I love,
I thought the D V D would be so much better.
But the changes and omissions are very disappointing.
Buy the V H S.
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on December 10, 2003
A. Incredible WWII Aircraft (they went to alot of trouble to get these planes, some found in Spain).
B. Great depiction of the air battles.
C. Wonderful job of portraying officers and enlisted men at leisure and in battle.
D. Even in this age of CGI the F/X of this movie still stand up nicely.
E. To annoy those that don't appreciate this movie.
I'm a Yank and I love this movie! This is one of the many wonderful WWII movies the British have produced. I am a big fan of WWII movies and this is one of the best available. Call me slightly prejudiced but their portrayals are more realistic to me than many of our American made war movies. Don't get me wrong I love John Wayne too, but the Duke was larger than life. Another good example of the Brits abilities is "Sink the Bismarck". Talk about an exceptional movie. So I suggest all my fellow Yanks catch this movie, and my hats off to the Brits for making it.
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on April 4, 2004
With today's movies having such a large amount of computer generated special effects, this movie was a refreshing change. I am an avid WW2 history buff and love the aircraft of WW2. Even though you are watching the Spanish Air Force versions of the He111 and the Me109, it was still a thrill to see images of the real thing in flight. While the plot, or lack of it, leaves a something to be desired, you do get the feeling of a beleagured RAF fighting against bad odds.
I'm the kind of viewer who fast forwards through the romance scenes in "Top Gun", so I can watch the aircraft in action. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and I think its a must see for WW2 and aircraft buffs, regardless of what more "discerning" viewers have said about it.
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on April 26, 2004
Starring such famous actors as Sir Lawrence Olivier, Michael Caine, Robert Shaw, Sussanah York, and Kurt Jurgens, this fine film depicts the battle for aerial supremacy over Great Britain in the summer of 1940.
The film begins with the fall of France, and depicts the German preparations for a cross-channel invasion against the British home islands. Germany thought that the feared Luftwaffe would have no trouble gaining air superiority over the inferior R.A.F., but,as it turns out, they were gravely mistaken.
The aerial combat scenes are what make this DVD truly special. The action is first-rate throughout the movie, and the air battles make you feel like you're actually in the cockpit of a Spitfire fighting it out with the Germans.
I highly recommend this excellent movie. The battle scenes are some of the best I've seen in a World War II movie, and they will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end. Watch this fine film and learn why Winston Churchill called this battle "Their Finest Hour".
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BATTLE OF BRITAIN [1969] [Limited Edition SteelBook] [Blu-ray] [UK Release] Never Was So Much, Owed By So Many, To So Few!

Featuring a stellar cast, including Michael Caine, Trevor Howard, Laurence Olivier, Christopher Plummer, Michael Redgrave and Robert Shaw, Battle of Britain recreates the greatest air battle in history, when the outnumbered British Royal Air Force defeated the German Luftwaffe at the beginning of World War II and saved England from invasion.

FILM FACT: Filming in England was at Duxford, Debden, North Weald and Hawkinge, all operational stations in 1940. One surviving First World War "Belfast" hangar at Duxford was blown up and demolished for the Eagle Day sequence. Some filming also took place at Royal Air Force Bovingdon, which is south of Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire and a former wartime bomber airfield. The title-sequence scene, showing a review of German bombers on the ground by Fieldmarshal Milch, was filmed at Tablada Airfield in Spain, which is now San Pablo Airport. Stunt coordinator Wilson Connie Edwards retained a Mark IX spitfire, six Buchons, and a P-51 Mustang in lieu of payment, which were stored in Texas, U.S.A. until it was sold to collectors in 2014.

Cast: Harry Andrews, Michael Caine, Trevor Howard, Curt Jürgens, Ian McShane, Kenneth More, Sir Laurence Olivier, Nigel Patrick, Christopher Plummer, Sir Michael Redgrave, Sir Ralph Richardson, Robert Shaw, Patrick Wymark, Susannah York, Michael Bates, Robert Flemyng, Isla Blair, Barry Foster, John Baskcomb, Edward Fox, Tom Chatto, William G. Foxley, James Cosmo, David Griffin, Jack Gwillim, André Maranne, Anthony Nicholls, Duncan Lamont, Sarah Lawson, Jean Wladon, Wilfried von Aacken, Reinhard Horras, Karl-Otto Alberty, Helmut Kircher, Alexander Allerson, Paul Neuhaus, Paul Neuhaus, Dietrich Frauboes, Malte Petzel, Alf Jungermann, Manfred Reddemann, Peter Hager, Hein Riess, Wolf Harnisch, Rolf Stiefel (Adolf Hitler), Nicky Beaumont (uncredited), Basil Dignam (uncredited), Eric Dodson (uncredited), Brian Grellis (uncredited), Michael Guest (uncredited), Barry Halliday (uncredited), Vincent Harding (uncredited), Pat Heywood (uncredited), Desmond Jordan (uncredited), Geoffrey King (uncredited), Maureen Lipman (uncredited), John Savident (uncredited), Nick Tate (uncredited), Reg Thomason (uncredited), Franz Van Norde (uncredited), David Webb (uncredited), Peter Wesp (uncredited) and Alister Williamson (uncredited)

Director: Guy Hamilton

Producers: Benjamin Fisz and Harry Saltzman

Screenplay: James Kennaway and Wilfred Greatorex

Composer: Ron Goodwin and William Walton

Cinematography: Freddie Young

Video Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Italian: 5.1 DTS and Castellanos: 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Italian, Italian [Testo], Castellanos [Basic], Danish, Suomi, Norway and Swedish

Running Time: 131 minutes

Region: Region B/2

Number of discs: 1

Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Andrew's Blu-ray Review: There’s something about good, old fashioned, buttoned up, tally-ho good chap, oh so British and Rule Britannia. And there’s something especially endearing about it in war pictures. What can so easily seem pretentious, stuffy, dated and out of touch in almost any other situation, for some reason comes across as steadfast, dignified and somehow appropriate in the arena of World War II. Like Winston Churchill himself, the bluster of these toffy nosed, silver spoon in mouth officers seems strangely and perfectly appropriate in that setting. And if you agree with that, you are gonna love ‘Battle of Britain.’ `Battle of Britain' marks the opening salvo of 29th Century Fox and M-G-M's onslaught collection of World War II films in high definition that also includes ‘The Longest Day,’ ‘Patton’ and ‘A Bridge Too Far.’

To re-create some of World War II's most desperate air battles, Harry Saltzman and S. Benjamin Fisz, the producers of "Battle of Britain," assembled what became the world's third largest air force and more than 100 Spitfires, Hurricanes, Heinkels and Messerschmitts. The resulting scenes are a real cinematic achievement, as aerial photography and as special effects. These sequences, the dogfights over Dover, the disintegration of planes in mid-air, the graceful tactics of evasion are more than just technically stunning. They also are totally beautiful, in the completely impersonal way that the spectacle of machines working well and seemingly with wills of their own can be beautiful. Unfortunately, something less than one-third of the film takes place in the air.

The film opens in 1940 as the British RAF has been ravaged by the German blitzkrieg in France. Faced with an imminent invasion on its own shores, Air Chief Marshal Dowding [Sir Laurence Olivier] has every available fighter made ready to defend Great Britain. The RAF is outmanned and outgunned by the Luftwaffe, with its some six hundred aircraft pitted against a German force of some two thousand. The British have the advantage of radar technology and its distance from continental Europe, but the only way in with the RAF is truly a match for the Third Reich is in the high spirits of its soldiers. There's a frenzied attempt to bring fledgling pilots up to speed to counteract the German forces, but it's a wasted effort as the Luftwaffe swoops in and effortlessly destroys half of the RAF's planes. Rather than limp to a seemingly inevitable conclusion, the RAF steels itself when London comes under direct assault, prompting a retaliatory bombing in Berlin that ensnares Hitler into the campaign. Hitler demands that London be levelled to the ground, but as the RAF has a chance to rebuild its forces, steel its resolve, and ally itself with skilled pilots from throughout the globe, it would prove to be one of the Third Reich's most crippling miscalculations.

The Battle of Britain is one of the most remarkable stories of the Second World War, and this makes it all the more disappointing that it doesn't translate to a better film. It feels somewhat like a lazy '60s roadshow, throwing fistfuls of money at the screen and convincing scores of high-wattage talent to sign on while never really bothering with anything all that compelling for them to do. Despite the rambling list of fourteen names plastered across the cover art, including the likes of Sir Laurence Olivier, Ian McShane, Robert Shaw, Michael Caine, and Christopher Plummer, many of them are only featured briefly throughout Battle of Britain. None of the characters exhibit any real lingering spark of personality, and honestly, even as I was watching the movie, I doubt I could've correctly named more than one or two of them. There's no 'hero' to rally around, and their subplots are just the usual star-crossed love stories, in confidence, and fear for their loved ones in this time of war. The dramatic side of Battle of Britain really just feels like a series of loosely connected, half-written vignettes instead of a cohesive story. The dialogue is as inept as the storytelling, particularly one cringe-worthy bit where Susannah York is barked at not to light a cigarette since so many gas mains have ruptured. Meanwhile, damn near everything around her is engulfed in flames. The film tries to give the Germans somewhat of an even keel, following the conflict from their perspective and not treating its rank and file like moustache-twirling, cackling caricatures. These moments are intriguing but are too cursory to be all that compelling. The pacing drags to a halt whenever the nimble Spitfires aren't in flight, and with the overwhelming majority of its first 45 minutes focusing on the "Britain" side of the film rather than the "Battle" and it's quite a slow burn to arrive there.

The `Battle of Britain' makes up for its shortcomings by a dazzling show of aerial acrobatics. Even with today's digital wizardry, the scale of these battles, with seemingly hundreds of warplanes in the air which has been rarely matched. The assaults are breathtakingly staged, and its mix of models and actual aircraft is surprisingly seamless, even with as unforgiving and revealing as high definition can be. Filmed in the early days of New Hollywood as more visceral violence was being embraced, the attacks throughout Battle of Britain are brutal and uncompromising. We see the lingering terror in bullet-riddled cockpits engulfed in blood and flames. It's one thing to see a fiery explosion mid-air and smouldering shards of an aircraft careen to the ground below, but Battle of Britain's determination to show that there are men meeting a grisly death inside these planes make it all the more harrowing. Battle of Berlin does an amazing job conveying the scale and destructiveness of the conflict, from the massive formations of fighter planes in-flight to seemingly miles of scorched earth, billowing with pillars of smoke.

But what I liked about ‘Battle of Britain’ it manages to teach and demonstrate a lot about the war, battle tactics and life at the time, without ever feeling like it’s trying to teach you anything. The other thing I liked was the surprisingly even handed approach. When we’re with the Germans, it never makes them out to be evil or pointlessly bad. They are soldiers trying to win a war, just like the allies. Of course, you sympathise more with the allies and hope for them to win, but I never expected a film this old, and made by us Brits, to be anywhere near this unbiased. ‘Battle of Britain’ also makes the right decision to minimally use recognisable real characters of the time. Winston Churchill is only seen once, through a window, smoking a cigar and looking intensely intimidating. And while Hitler does get a rousing, impressive speech, director Guy Hamilton always keeps it in long, wide shots, so you never get distracted by a close up, or forcing you to scrutinise how good, or bad, the Adolf Hitler is. By keeping the focus on the low level pilots, it makes the story much more relatable.

The `Battle of Britain' lifts its title from one of the most engaging chapters of World War II, but it feels more like a hollow spectacle than a harrowing wartime drama. The craftsmanship and awe-inspiring scope behind its dazzling battle sequences alone makes `Battle of Britain' and is easily recommended and with so many other WWII films making their release on Blu-ray alongside this one, I think this a worthy purchase, as it is totally stunning.

Blu-ray Video Quality – The `Battle of Britain' does take full advantage of the technology that the Blu-ray has to offer, placing the 133 minute film on a single-layer disc with a stunning 1080p encoded image is superb. While a more efficient encoded Blu-ray disc would have been preferred, if only to free up enough space for the extras to be included and `Battle of Britain' still looks stunningly phenomenal in high definition. I was caught off-guard by the strength of its depth and dimensions. The scope image is smooth, crisp, and brimming with fine detail, often looking decades more recent than Battle of Britain itself. The film grain remains tight and unobtrusive throughout, showing no signs of being smeared away by overzealous video noise reduction. Some moments do exhibit somewhat of an artificially over sharpened appearance, but it's not a constant concern. There is some scattered softness that becomes particularly pronounced in any shot with optical effects, although that's to be expected. The palette tends to be somewhat cold but generally emerges as natural and nicely saturated. One odd hiccup I noticed a couple of times throughout the movie is that portions of the frame devolve into a speckled mess. There's a fine mesh behind the pilot just before the twenty minute mark, for example. It and the edge of the aircraft in the lower-left hand of the frame are bizarrely unstable, with portions appearing and disappearing frame-by-frame. Strangely, there are quite a few other shots from the same angle that are absolutely perfect. The same thing happens again after a plane bursts into flames 122 minutes in. All sense of definition around the cockpit fades away, devolving into a series of loosely connected black specks. This looks more like a series of botched optical effects than a compression error, but it's inept enough to be distracting.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – I and sometimes sceptical whenever a monaural film is remixed to 5.1, too often suffering from gimmicky pans and awkward directionality or barely making use of the other channels at all. Battle of Britain easily ranks among the most effective remixes I've ever heard, though, and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has provided this outstanding effort as part of a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The `Battle of Britain' as a film is well defined by its startling aerial assaults, and that's by far the greatest strength of this remixes. Fighters swiftly swoop from one channel into the next and sprays of gunfire blaze across the room. This tremendous sense of directionality comes through as natural and consistently convincing. The stems for the score must have been in immaculate condition, roaring from every speaker with exceptional strength and clarity. The film's dialogue sounds somewhat thin and slightly dated, but it remains intelligible and reasonably clear throughout. The lower frequencies aren't as punishing as a more recent war movie would be, of course, but there's still quite a heft to the gunfire, dozens of explosions, and rumbling engines. The highest compliment that can be paid to this sort of audio is that it doesn't sound like a remix as if this is how the Battle of Britain had been deliberately shaped from the start and that's exactly how I feel about this first-rate effort. The audio is primarily in English, and the brief stretches anchored around soldiers from other countries are accompanied by generated subtitles at crucial parts of the film, especially when you are in the presence of the Germans.

Finally, 'Battle of Britain' is an impressively-mounted spectacle, if certainly dated by today's technological standards. The characters are slightly one dimensional, but do their best in trying to bring a flavour of what it was like up against the might of the Luftwaffe air force. This Blu-ray delivers a really solid image and an awesome audio clout, which should please fans of this film. Unfortunately, given the lack of extras and especially the price I paid, it is was still worth purchasing, as the Limited Edition SteelBook is so beautiful and especially as it is only available as a Region B/2 Blu-ray disc and now it has gone pride of place in my Blu-ray Collection. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
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