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The Big Red One - The Reconstruction - 2-Disc Special Edition

" Eventually the veterans in the rifle squad stop bothering to learn the names of the new kids who arrive to bring them up to strength. They get killed so quickly, it's not worth the trouble. But the sergeant and four of his men make it all the way through the war, or almost, anyway -- from North Africa to Sicily to Omaha Beach on D-Day to Belgium and finally to Germany and the liberation of a death camp."

"Is it unlikely these five would be survivors? Not to Sam Fuller, who wrote and directed "The Big Red One" (1980), based on his own combat memories. 'I wanted to do the story of a survivor,' he told me when the movie premiered at Cannes, 'because all war stories are told by survivors.'"

"What we understand, finally, is that the entire war comes down to these five men, because it is their entire war. Nobody wades ashore with 10,000 men. They wade ashore all by themselves. By limiting the scope of the action, Fuller was able to make the movie look completely convincing on his limited budget, using Ireland for the scenes set in Belgium and Israel for all the other scenes. We see tanks and planes and Germans and landing craft when we need to, but the focus is on the faces of the squad members."

"Fuller centers everything on the sergeant, played by Lee Marvin with the rock-solid authority of a man who had seen action as a Marine in the Pacific...The long-lasting squad members are Zab (Robert Carradine), a cigar-chewing pulp writer who is obviously playing Fuller; Griff (Mark Hamill), who doesn't like killing but has a change of heart; Vinci (Bobby DiCicco) and Johnson (Kelly Ward). "

"Fuller's original cut of the film came to 270 minutes. It was cut to 113 minutes, which broke his heart, but what was left worked well enough that he was proud of it. He talked about restoring his original version, but he died in 1997 without getting that done. Now the film critic Richard Schickel has overseen a reconstruction that brings the film up to 158 minutes, and it reveals a richness and pacing missing in the earlier version; one suspects that the 270-minute version was a rough cut even Fuller would have trimmed. The restored "Big Red One" is able to suggest the scope and duration of the war, the way it's one damned thing after another, the distances traveled, the pile-up of experiences that are numbing most of the time but occasionally produce an episode as perfect as a short story." ---- Roger Ebert

DVD 2-Disc Set

  • Widescreen
  • Available subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Commentary by reconstruction producer Richard Schickel
  • Over 40 minutes of added footage
  • Alternate scenes
  • Anatomy of a Scene: Watch the director at work and examine the before/after restoration comparisons
  • New documentary The Real Glory: Reconstructing The Big One
  • Profile: The Men Who Make the Movies: Samuel Fuller
  • War department film: The Fighting First
  • 1980 promo reel, theatrical trailer, and TV and radio spots
  • 2004 reconstruction trailer

Curator's Comments:
Read Roger Ebert's essay on this DVD Classic.

Director: Sam Fuller
163 minutes
Released: 1980
Rated: R

Country: U.S.A.
Language: English
Genre: Action, Drama, War


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