One of the greatest films made by often overlooked director Robert Aldrich, ULZANA'S RAID isn't a true war film, but within its traditional western format, Aldrich and screenwriter Alan Sharp transform the material into an effective and damning allegory of America's involvement in Vietnam.
Set in Arizona during the late 1880s, the film centers on Lancaster, a hard-riding scout who accompanies idealistic, young lieutenant Davison in his pursuit of a group of rapacious renegade Apaches led by Martinez (playing Ulzana). On the trail it becomes apparent that Lancaster and Davison hold
radically different views of Martinez's actions--the scout is cold and cynical, while Davison's Christian morality is incensed by the Apache atrocities. As the film progresses it poses a complex series of questions about the nature of heroism, racism, and American imperialism. However, as an
allegorical indictment of the Vietnam War, ULZANA'S RAID avoids the preachy stance of similarly themed westerns such as SOLDIER BLUE, benefiting from Aldrich's stark, violent treatment of Sharp's well-developed script. Regrettably, this challenging film was much abused by its studio, and several
different versions were circulated, including a European cut containing alternative takes and slightly altered scene construction (most noticeable in the film's opening section). This was the third time Lancaster and Aldrich had worked together, after a lapse of 18 years (their previous
collaborations, APACHE and VERA CRUZ), and they would soon team again on TWILIGHT'S LAST GLEAMING.
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- Released: 1972
- Rating: R
- Review: One of the greatest films made by often overlooked director Robert Aldrich, ULZANA'S RAID isn't a true war film, but within its traditional western format, Aldrich and screenwriter Alan Sharp transform the material into an effective and damning allegory of… (more)