Report reaches the US cavalry that the Apache leader Ulzana has left his reservation with a band of followers. A compassionate young officer, Lieutenant DeBuin, is given a small company to find him and bring him back; accompanying the troop is McIntosh, an experienced scout, and Ke-Ni-Tay, an Apache guide. Ulzana massacres, rapes and loots across the countryside; and as DeBuin encounters the remains of his victims, he is compelled to learn from McIntosh and to confront his own naiveté and hidden prejudice.Written by
David Levene <D.S.Levene@durham.ac.uk>
The UK DVD release has been re-edited to remove all instances of horses being trip-wired. According to the British Board of Film Classification, such a tactic contravenes the 1937 Cinematograph Act (following the carnage of the flying W in The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936)), which forbids the ill treatment of any animal in the making of a film (although some stuntmen claim that the method can be performed without harming any horses). See more »
At the end of the movie just before Mcintosh and his party enter the canyon for the ambush he tells the Sergent that they have to wait for Ke-Ni-Tay to take out Ulzana's sentry. However, the decision for Ke-Ni-Tay to take out the sentry was made by Lt. DeBuin after Mcintosh had led the other party into the ambush so there was no way for Mcintosh to know what Ke-Ni-Tay was doing. See more »
For the original cinema release cuts were made to edit some violent scenes, including the shots of Willy Rukeyser's mutilated body and the scene where the Indians throw the trooper's severed heart to each other, and these were restored to later releases. The UK DVD (and previous VHS) were cut by the BBFC to remove various horse falls. The cuts are very noticeable and render some scenes nonsensical. They are as follows:
when the Indians shoot the horse of the trooper rescuing the boy
two horse falls removed when Burt Lancaster uses a rifle to bring down two Indians, including Ulzana's son
The subsequent return of fire in which Lancaster's horse is brought down
At the end, when the Indians attack the wagon party, they direct two horses into a small canyon and bring them down with a rope stretched across the trail. The German R2 DVD (identical to the UK DVD in terms of content including an English language soundtrack) is uncut and includes all the horse falls.
Stark and brutal, but completely lacking the melodramatic sturm und drang of most war movies, Ulzana's Raid plays out like it was another deadly day at the office for the participants. Produced as an allegory on the Vietnam War, Robert Aldrich and Burt Lancaster created a focused drama about the senselessness of hating your opponents and the absence of victory in ethnic conflicts. The participants and victimized settlers aren't so much dehumanized as they are inconsequential except to themselves.
Filmed in Nogales, Arizona and Nevada, the conflict is played out realistically with both sides shepherding their supplies of time, endurance, ammunition, and manpower. The location shots are beautifully laid out with an emphasis on depicting the strategic planning of the apache raiders and opposing troopers. Several scenes stand out in sharp contrast to most war movies. In one group of scenes, Aldrich follows a German family and their fate as the wife rides off with her child and a trooper escort, and the well-armed husband stays behind to defend their home. In another, the troop commander sends two soldiers after a wounded apache raider. In both cases, he turns conventional logic and sentiment on its head in honor of a grimmer reality. To my mind, this is one of the best war stories ever made and the DVD lays it out in full screen Technicolor.
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