Guns at Batasi DVD: Review By Evan "Mushy" Jacobs

Yet another film that looks at the complexities of war.
  • OVERALL
    3.0
    WORTHY
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
Yet another film that looks at the complexities of war.
THE BAD
Very slim extra features.
THE FEATURE
Any time we have a movie where a military leader takes up arms and defies his government all I can say is... count me in! In Guns at Batasi we focus on a Military commander who is supposed to give up their command to a growing militia. Now, normally someone in the service would do this job under the guise of following orders. Yet, like Apocalypse Now this doesn't happen and suddenly the British military has a big problem on their hands.

This is essentially the crux of the film that is filled with solid performances by Lord Richard Attenborough and John Leyton. Again, I think this film from 1964 examines the act of war in a highly different way than I think we often think films from that time did.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary Track

This track for Guns at Batasi is provided by John Leyton (he played Pvt. Wilkes). He talks about how this movie was set in Africa but completely shot in England as well as how this movie was one of the last black and white films. My only problem with this track is that Leyton sometimes comments too directly on the action when he doesn't need to. Something else I thought was interesting was how Leyton thought, by this film's title, that this movie was a western.
THE VIDEO
2.35:1 - Widescreen. This film has what I can only describe as an understated black and white look and tone. Unlike film noir movies Guns at Batasi really doesn't rely on the harshness of that potential color scheme to tell the story. Also, it seems like the assets to put this print together have been kept up nicely since 1964.
THE AUDIO
Dolby Digital. English (Stereo and Mono). Spanish - Mono. Close Captioned. Subtitled in English and Spanish. The best way I can describe the audio on this DVD is solid if not spectacular. A movie like Guns at Batasi pulls you into this world with it's performances, but the audio accompaniment keeps the illusion on screen alive.
THE PACKAGE
Men holding guns and soldiers charging off to battle with tanks behind them are the dominant images for this front cover. There is also a greenish, bronze tint that dates this film but doesn't make it look too old. The back cover images feature more soldiers, some quiet scenes from the film and barbed wire. The back also features a description of this movie, a special features listing, a cast list and technical specs.
THE FINAL WORD
It is interesting when I hear people talk about classic war films that Guns at Batasi isn't mentioned in that discussion. I know that there are many war films and I'm sure that this one is some critic's favorite, I am just surprised that it doesn't seem better known. As I was watching this movie I couldn't help but wonder what kinds of war movies filmmakers will make about our current military conflict?

Guns at Batasi is a well made film that knows exactly where it stands on the issues.

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