Three War Movies that Need to Be Released on Blu Ray

Blu Ray technology has done some amazing things over the course of the last few years, both for the visual and audio experience of seeing a movie as it was meant to be seen, save of course for actually seeing a screening in a movie theater. Though in my last article about Blu Rays, I knocked them a little bit for sometimes not living up to standard (it still amazes me that some films from the 1940’s have better clarity than those made within the last 20 years), ultimately, they have been a pleasant surprise, at least to me, a person that has always been skeptical of new technology and the controlled obsolescent world we live in today. That said, some of my favorite films, as you may very well gather, are war movies, and the HD spectacle that Blu Ray brings is the ultimate treat, because you can see the dripping of blood and grains of dirt on the soldiers’ uniforms, as well as hearing bullets zipping through the air, or the roar of a helicopter engine. All of these items play into the realism, and it is because of this that I make the humble suggestions below, for three war movies that have not experienced a transformation through re-release, to finally have their day. These are three movies that many of us would kill to see in high-definition, and I only hope the interest is out there to make it happen.

3. The Alamo (2004)

Like many of us did for Gods and Generals, in waiting eight years for a director’s cut, there are many of us waiting for one for this film as well. While when the film first came out, there was a lot of promise and hope (including director John Lee Hancock saying he would have the release of a cut put into his contract if he ever directed another film for Disney), it all seems completely dead now, especially with the 175th anniversary of the siege and battle coming without even so much as cough from a studio executive. So, if this is the case, could we at least be gifted with a Blu Ray release of the theatrical version? Despite all its flaws (the more historically accurate one claims a movie to be, the more people find things wrong with it), and the demystification of our heroes, it is still a very good film. Billy Bob Thornton plays one of the best roles in his career, and while I cannot get myself to utter that Hancock is a good director, the cinematography of this movie is superb. There are swooping camera shots, fantastic sets, and a wonderful battle scene (night-time battles look great on Blu Ray, just throwing that out there), and those three should be reason enough to give this film another go. I do not think it is too much to ask for, considering the enormous market in Texas alone, with the rest of general history buffs coming at a close second.

Scenes like this one would look spectacular in HD.

2. The Alamo (1960)

Slowly but surely, it seems that all of John Wayne’s more popular movies are getting the Blu Ray treatment, which actually gives this fifty year old flick a better chance of a release than the one that came within the last decade. Though this film is anything but accurate, it is a classic and war movie of epic proportions. The film erred when it depicted the final battle as taking place during the day, but the visual spectacle that ensued is a part of cinematic history. There are thousands of extras, great pull-away shots, and of course, the many different colors of the Mexican army uniforms. The film on DVD itself was pretty well-preserved, so this seems like a no-brainer. There is a director’s cut of this film too, however, but has only been released to VHS, because the poor quality of the deleted scenes would stick out like a sore thumb if transferred to a clearer medium. Nevertheless, I would buy this the first day it came out. The performances are top-notch, and the story is definitely something to remember.

1. Waterloo (1970)

Are you an aspiring director who needs inspiration on how to film a battle scene? Well, look no farther than Sergei Bondarchuk’s masterful adaptation of the climactic Napoleonic struggle at Waterloo, between Wellington (the outstanding Christopher Plummer) and Napoleon (an overly dramatic Rod Steiger). Though the first hour of this film is brutally slow, boring, and melodramatic, with some of the worst acting performances I have ever seen, the latter portion of the film with the battle is one of the most memorable, and it will stick with you a long time after. The use of nearly 20,000 extras and helicopter-view overhead shots make you want to get out of your chair and stand up, out of sheer disbelief that something like that could even be captured on film, in a day and age where there were no computer generated effects. What you see is what Bondarchuk saw, and Ney’s cavalry charge against the British infantry squares late in the battle is so stunning, it almost makes you want to enlist in His Majesty’s army. No film I have ever seen starts out so dull and listless, making you want to shut it off, before ripping the remote out of your hand and gluing you to your chair. If you can get past the poor overdubbing, mainly of Jack Hawkins’ character (he lipped the words because his voice box had been removed due to throat cancer) and about a dozen other actors, then this is a film you have to see. It is a sin in itself that this movie only has one or two DVD releases, both being of terrible quality, and containing Chinese lettering on the actual case. The widescreen format is so scrunched together that the viewer does not get the sense of scope and grandeur that the director intended. Restoring this film and putting it on Blu Ray, though, would fix that. This is a piece of cinema that needs to be worked on.

I was going to include Schindler’s List on here at number one, but sources say that the film is getting worked on, and will hopefully be released next year. As of right now, there is no release date set.

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8 thoughts on “Three War Movies that Need to Be Released on Blu Ray

  1. Hey Greg,

    Have yet to see “Waterloo,” but I am in total agreement that the two Alamo movies need to be released. I know John Lee Hancock had a three-hour cut of the film, and was planning on working to get it finished after the DVD release did well. Some music on the soundtrack comes from scenes not included in the theatrical cut that also aren’t a part of the deleted scenes featured on the DVD.

    As for John Wayne’s Alamo, that is currently in the works, though possibly stalled. A group was working to preserve the final existing print of the three-hour plus “Roadshow Version,” or Director’s Cut of the film. But the thing that is holding up the group from finishing the work for a future DVD and Blu-ray release of the full-length cut is the MGM bankruptcy. Now that is settled, that will hopefully be back on track for a future release. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

    God bless!

    1. The scenes most people are waiting for involve James Bonham. His famous ride was cut out entirely, and his character is merely there in the background. I don’t think he utters a word. There are also more extensive, and violent scenes, of hand to hand fighting in the low barracks. Had the film been rated R it would have been better, but Disney could not get themselves to release a film with that rating. Perhaps a director’s cut will be unrated.

  2. The release of The Waynamo onto Blu-Ray is being discussed on the johnwayne-thealamo.com/forum As it seems unlikely that the director’s cut of the film will ever be restored, I will settle for the short version. Better that, than nothing.

    As for the 2004 Alamo, with John Lee Hancock’s success with THE BLIND side, there is not only the possibility of it being released onto Blu-Ray, but a director’s cut version, as well.

    And absolutely, WATERLOO! Some of the best big battle scene ever filmed. My major qualm with it is that there is little to no close hand to hand fighting scenes. Everything always seems to be at a distance.

    1. I will have to stop over at the forum. It has been too long. We can only hope for a director’s cut of the JLH version, but I guess it will never happen for the JW version since they never could get it good enough to do on DVD, let alone Blu Ray.

  3. Hi Greg,

    One more film to throw into the mix – if you’re a fan of Bondarchuk’s “Waterloo”, you absolutely owe it to yourself to track down his 7-hour Russian-language film of “War and Peace”. Completely epic. The best (current) version is the Ruscico (Russian Cinema Council) version, but it appears to have gone out of print. It was at least in widescreen. There’s a version available on Amazon, but it has the sides cut off. Still, even on that version, you can get an appreciation for what an epic achievement it was.

  4. Two of my favorite films,i will wait with patience for them to be released on blueray.Waterloo an the action scenes are second to none,no computer graphics in those days.Christopher plummer an rod stieger two of my favorite actors,i wonder though would they ever release lion of the desert on blueray?.

  5. David B

    I agree that Waterloo should be released on Blu-ray. However, I disagree with the dismissal of the first half of the film. Certainly, it does not start promisingly with the poorly-written, over-acted first scene of the abdication. But many splendid and famous moments follow: Napoleon’s farewell to the Guard where he wipes his tears on the flag; the scene where the 5th Line regiment rallies to Napoleon (“if you’ve come to kill your Emperor, here I am”); the Duchess of Richmond’s ball with a storm raging, (“Boney’s no gentleman. On the field of battle his hat is worth 40,000 men. But he’s not a gentleman”); the arrival of the Prussian General at the ball to tell of Napoleon’s move to Belgium “Napoleon has humbugged me!”). All good stuff with many famous quotes.

  6. Chris Evans

    I agree about all of these films.

    I wish they would give the director of ‘The Alamo’ from 2004 Hancock a chance to recut the film like was given to ‘Gods & Generals’. He has done some pretty successful films for Disney since then.

    ‘Waterloo’ is one of my absolute favorites. I love Rod Steiger as Napoleon and Plummer as Wellington. The quote by Napoleon, ‘I made one mistake in my life, I should have burned Berlin’ is one of my favorites in any war movie.

    Chris

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