Screened as part of NZIFF 2004
When the legendary Sam Fuller completed his epic The Big Red One in 1980 it was widely considered a dinosaur. In the shadow of Vietnam, The Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now were the war movies of the day. Even his star, the great Lee Marvin, seemed an anachronism beside the prevalent view of miltary man as naplam-inhaling psychopath. So Fuller's great war testament was drastically cut. Though it had its admirers, the filmmaker went to his grave nursing bitter disappointment that his most personal film was forever lost.
Now, drawing on Fuller's shooting script and the corresponding footage in Warner Bros vaults, critic, historian and filmmaker Richard Schickel has come as close to reconstituting Fuller's originally intended film as is humanly possible. The result, premiered, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of D-Day, on the closing day of this year's Cannes Film Festival, is a major revelation. — BG