Saturday, June 25, 2005

Guns of Navarone- a film review

Click on poster to view Wikipedia entry

A World War 2 film produced in 1961, the plot is set in the early 1940s. Guns of Navarone tells of a pair of huge German guns strategically located in a cave on the Greek island of Navarone, controlling the Aegean Sea.

With an ex-mountaineer among them, a team of 6 commandos scale an unguarded cliff face to enter the occupied Greek island of Navarone. The plot gets interesting when one among them seriously injures himself in a fall while climbing the cliff. Do we leave him here, and allow him to receive German medical treatment, and potentially revealing our plans, or do we carry him around on a stretcher, potentially slowing the team? Or do we put a bullet through his head? The problem is eventually resolved, but only temporarily, and the issue stays with us throughout the movie.

Another theme that is seen intermittently is the angst of war. Transcribed here is one particularly moving exchange by Captain Mallory, the leader, and Corporal Miller, the angsty one.

“Well to hell with getting the job done. I've been on a hundred jobs and none of them changed the course of the war. There'll be a thousand wars, and there'll be a thousand more until we all kill each other off completely. I don’t care about the war anymore; I care about Roy.”

“And what if Turkey comes into the war on the wrong side?”

“So what? Let the whole bloody world come in and blow itself to pieces. That’s what it deserves.”

The plot is interesting as the main characters all have their own little bit of history and sub-plots, all while they go about trying to put the Guns of Navarone out of commission. Unsurprisingly, among the commandos and the local rebels, there is an informer keeping the Germans up to date. To make things more exciting, a Greek member in the team feigns innocence when the entire team is captured by the Germans. Was it all planned, or was it simply a stroke of luck? This question lingers, and is not properly answered at the conclusion of the film.

Acting is generally good. The one that stands out is David Niven for his role as Corporal Miller. Miller’s emotional outbursts are very well portrayed, and one can feel a dose of reality in it, even though this is nothing more than a film.

Sometimes, German soldiers are portrayed to be slightly slow and retarded. However, this is not very common/obvious, and is acceptable.

Another noteworthy point is that this is not a patriotism film like many flag flying, anthem blaring (mostly US) war films. I don’t think God Save the Queen was played once in this film. Your viewing experienced will not be interrupted by uplifting (irrelevant) scenes of neat rows of men standing at attention to a flag being hoisted up a pole.

This film being rather old, do not expect fancy special effects with propagating flame fronts and shock waves. Also, its one of the earlier colour films and the colour is not as intense as modern productions. However, it might be a good thing not to be distracted by these little bagatelles. Concentrate on the acting and storyline!

The verdict:
Definitely worth your time, all 150 minutes of it. The plot goes along well.