Oh! What A Lovely War

  • 1969
  • Movie
  • G
  • Musical, War

Richard Attenborough's directorial debut is a sprawling, highly stylized musical satire of WWI featuring some of Britain's very finest actors--Ralph Richardson, Laurence Olivier, Michael Redgrave, John Mills, Jack Hawkins, Ian Holm, and Vanessa Redgrave among them. After an opening that finds Europe's heads of state choosing up sides when Archduke Franz...read more

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Richard Attenborough's directorial debut is a sprawling, highly stylized musical satire of WWI featuring some of Britain's very finest actors--Ralph Richardson, Laurence Olivier, Michael Redgrave, John Mills, Jack Hawkins, Ian Holm, and Vanessa Redgrave among them. After an opening that

finds Europe's heads of state choosing up sides when Archduke Franz Ferdinand is killed during a royal photo session, OH, WHAT A LOVELY WAR traces WWI through a series of surreal set pieces, alternating between the front lines in France and the English homefront, where generals and diplomats

conduct a distant war that is actually waged by the young and poor. In particular, the film focuses on the Smith family, whose sons, seduced into the service in the carnival atmosphere of Brighton, all end up dying for their country. Meanwhile, the sacrifices of the British aristocracy, as

embodied by Eleanor (Susannah York) and Stephen (Dirk Bogarde), are limited to boycotting German wine. Against a backdrop that includes flashing neon messages and a cricket scoreboard that keeps tally of the war's casualties, a series of musical numbers from 1914-18 are performed and given a

distinctly antiwar slant that won considerable support from the British Left for this film and its inspiration, Joan Littlewood's 1963 stage adaptation of Charles Chilton's radio play "The Long, Long Trail." The rights to the play were purchased by producer Brian Duffy and novelist Len Deighton,

the latter of whom had his name taken off the film before its release because of differences with Attenborough. OH, WHAT A LOVELY WAR is not a flawless film but is thoughtful and enthralling.

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  • Rating: G
  • Review: Richard Attenborough's directorial debut is a sprawling, highly stylized musical satire of WWI featuring some of Britain's very finest actors--Ralph Richardson, Laurence Olivier, Michael Redgrave, John Mills, Jack Hawkins, Ian Holm, and Vanessa Redgrave am… (more)

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