Reviews for The Last Valley ( ) 1080p

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Interesting film about the evils of war and religion

Set in the early 17th century during the 30 years war somewhere in Germany, a weary educated traveler Vogel (Omar Sharif) is escaping the death and disease of the conflict when he finds his way to a secluded idyllic valley village, a garden of Eden of sorts, that has gone untouched. Behind him come a band of soldiers/mercenaries led by The Captain (Michael Caine). They decide to settle there in this land of plenty and ride out the winter, forcing themselves onto the villagers. Vogel becomes a middle man, a somewhat of an enlightened neutral observer not too far on either side between the soldiers and the villagers.

The film I feel is really about pointing out the pointlessness and evils of both war and religion. Its shows how religion makes men do insane and inhumane things that they'd usually never do and hence causes war and that ultimately nobody really wins. In fact I'd say this film makes one of the strongest atheist statements I've ever seen on film.

The acting is top notch by both Michael Caine and Omar SHarif. The filming was done in Austria in Tyrol which provides for stunning scenery which they take full advantage of in the film. John Barry, known much better for his work on the Bond franchise, has done one of his works of all in this film. You can still hear hints of that strong brass section that has become so associated with Bond ripple through the main theme.

Good film, well worth the watch.

Unforgettable movie

Watched this when I was in college. The brutality and hypocrisy of man just hit you like a ton of bricks. The cinematography was breathtaking, even though most of the images were drab, grimy, and dark. It was not a pleasant experience, but eye-opening; and it is for this reason that even though I bought a copy of the DVD about 10 years ago, I have not been able to bring myself to watch it again.

As pointed out by others, John Barry's score was out of this world. At the time, I had only known him for the James Bond movies, then he gave us his masterpiece: "Out of Africa". He is right up there together with Maurice Jarre and Michel LeGrand. Coupled with the animated opening credits, it was the one jewel in the film that I don't mind watching again and again.

A solid cast: Michael Caine and Omar Sheriff, and the beautiful Florinda Bolkan. Director James Clavell is very talented, recognized his name in the opening credits when I watched the movie - having just read his novels "Tai- Pan" and "King Rat".

Not for the faint of heart.

Literate and rare

Film is usually so absorbed with superficiality and "drama." Not in this case... a rare and satisfying journey into the heart of the storm winds of change called "history" which discharge their energies against the movable objects of each individual pathetic individual person during the relatively brief and, in the big picture, barely noticeable time of our lives.

The film is literature, in the sense that it uses the art of the Story to shed light on the immense and incomprehensible Themes that force us to take sides - religion, philosophy, love, destiny - and plays out in dramatic form a tale about the consequences of our choices and the impossibility to escape them, or to escape the fate that awaits each of us, regardless.

Whoa!

I was at the store and spied this unknown 1971 flick amongst the DVDs; it looked like my kind of movie, especially with Michael Caine and Omar Sharif, so I naturally wondered why I had never heard of it. I made a mental note to check out some reviews on the internet. The across-the-board high ratings piqued my interest, so I decided to pick it up the next time I saw it.

The first thing that made a favorable impression was the outstanding opening credits sequence. Many reviewers mention John Barry's magnificent score as a highlight and they're right. This credits sequence innovatingly depicts the theme of the Thirty Years War -- members of essentially the same religion at each other's throats.

THE STORY: During the horrible Thirty Years War in Europe (1618-1648) a band of mercenaries led by the merciless Michael Caine ("The Captain") and a drifter attempting to flee the horrors of the war discover a hidden vale -- the last valley untouched by the war. The drifter talks The Captain into wintering in the peaceful valley rather than pillaging it and raping/killing the villagers. (This setup itself is a hint that this is no ordinary war flick).

WHAT WORKS: Parts of the film have a dreamy, surreal atmosphere, particularly the beginning and ending; this is reminiscent of the incomparable "Apocalypse Now." Michael Caine is outstanding as The Captain, a character so hardened by the horrors of war that he no longer even has a name, he's just "The Captain." Caine would perform a similar role in the underrated "The Eagle Has Landed" in 1977, a stunning performance. The Captain's answer to everything was to simply kill, but now, in the valley, he has found peace and the warmth of love. Omar Sharif also perfectly depicts the disillusioned drifter, Vogel, his reaction to the horrors of war has always been to run, but in the valley he also finds peace and love, and even -- maybe -- a family? The depth and ultra-seriousness of the story, including the dialogue of the characters touching on issues of war, loss, God, religion, ignorance, superstitions, love, hope, loyalty, duty, redemption, etc. truly separate this pic from an ordinary war-adventure yarn.

It's also very interesting to observe how people lived in a regular hamlet 400 years ago in backwoods Europe. It was not unusual for people back then in such circumstances to live their entire lives within 10 miles or so from where they were born. Such people would likely be under-educated, superstitious, innocent, ignorant and narrow-minded all at the same time, and the film realistically portrays this.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: There are parts of the film that aren't pulled off very well. Some of the dramatic stagings and dialogue come off awkward here and there. These aspects perhaps needed more fine-tuning and this explains why critics originally panned the movie and why it fell into obscurity for thirty years (a fitting curse for being the only movie to ever address the Thirty Years War, eh?).

Some have criticized the film for being anti-church or even anti-God. Actually the film's about the pursuit of God, truth, love and happiness in the face of the ultimate horror -- war. And not just any war, a war that lasted three decades wherein innocent civilians -- men, women, children & family members -- were needlessly slaughtered. The repugnance and terror of war caused The Captain to become a ruthless atheist, as he declares in one potent scene, and "tore the heart out of" Vogel, as revealed in another. But the last valley untouched by the neverending conflict has given them both hope again.

***SPOILER ALERT***

Originally The Captain was going to slay Vogel as soon as he met him, but after wintering in the valley he sets Vogel up as the leader while he leaves to attend to the business of war. He obviously had a change of heart concerning Vogel. In any event, he returns to the vale, wounded, his only sanctuary from the evils of battle and plague. His dying words to Vogel are: "Vogel, if you find God tell him we created..." He was no longer an atheist in the strictest sense; he now even hoped their was a Creator and WANTED Vogel to find truth, love & happiness. But it was too late for him. Or maybe not?

***END SPOILER***

FINAL ANALYSIS: Despite the obvious flaws the film gets a huge 'A' for effort in my book. "The Last Valley" is a special picture. It successfully creates a small world of people some 400 years ago in a secluded vale in the paradisical wilderness of the Alps. A world you can get lost in for 2 hours. The originality of the story and its inherent profundities, not to mention the fine cast, performances and surreal aspects, lift the film above a simple adventure yarn. It's unorthodox, enlightening, thought-provoking and ultimately moving. If you enjoy films like "Apocalypse Now" and "Runaway Train," films that boldly attempt to go far deeper than the run-of-the-mill action/adventure flick, then be sure to check out "The Last Valley." You won't be disappointed. In addition, it's a film you'll continue to glean from in future viewings. But, since this is a dialogue-driven picture, be sure to use the subtitles so you can understand the heavily accented dialogue. You'll get much more out of it.

GRADE: A-

Great film, based on psychological realities

Superficially about the 30 years war in Europe in the early part of 17th century, this insightful film portrays much about human personality and relationships. Much of human thought is influenced by thought disorder (loose associations and delusions). This thought disorder often goes unrecognized as it is shared by many others, and thus regarded as reality-based. The people in this film (except for the main characters of the Captain, village leader, and wandering teacher) are a study in this human tendency to construct ideas based on thought disorder. This makes for a more fascinating film that adds to the enjoyment of the fine story depicted. Caine's laid back performance is brilliant. Sharif does his Dr. Zhivago thing as modified to fit this story. This is a classic that one can enjoy in repeted viewing every 5 to 10 years.

Very underrated movie

Michael Caine said that personally he thought this was his best performance in his autobiography and you can see why. He plays the Captain during the thirty years war in Germany. A man who has seen too much killing yet has retained some of his humanity. This film is a great study of the political and religious impact of warfare and the complex relationships between the social classes as a result. The screenplay tackles bigotry and religious issues in a way that few films if any had before it. This movie was ahead of it's time and is accompanied by a beautiful film score by John Barry. A rich, rewarding movie worthy of repeat viewing and a great history lesson from a little known period of European history.

The Last Valley (1971)

This for me has to be 1 of my favourite films for several reasons.Firstly it has quite a cast with Michael Caine, Brian Blessed, Omar Sharif etc etc,secondly it has 1 of John Barry's(James Bond, The Black Hole)finest scores!I have found out that he had an exceptional amount of time in which to compose the score after the final edit & produced a *MUST HAVE* score if your into your movie soundtracks(I have hundreds as I am a bit of a collector!).The movie was also shot in a remote isolated valley & all the buildings you see in the film were constructed by local craftsmen drafted in from the surrounding towns using traditional techniques as per the time period it portrays.This creates a totally convincing back drop to the filming & some of the shots of the valley are breath taking! My fondness of the film stems from early memories of it as a child.My Dad used his video(when video had only just come in!)for the 1st time to record this off TV late at night & in fact he still has that tape floating around somewhere!ha ha He was quite strict so I wasn't allowed to use the video for a start & definitely not allowed to watch this....but I used to sneak it on when me folks were out(shhhhush-don't tell him ha ha!). It is actually a very rarely aired movie & has not really been recognised for the depth & strength it portrays. I think it was way ahead of its time in terms of brutality.It was also marketed too high as a sort of Ben Hur, Spartacus epic.Those films had way more budget & far more scope in terms of the size of story line they were depicting - after all The Last Valley is just dealing with a small village community in a remote isolated valley where as Ben Hur is dealing with a whole Roman Empire theme!Never the less The Last Valley still has impact.The opening scene is still shocking 40years on!I think those scenes are the reason it does not get the air play as the violence & issues it deals with are so honest & truthful!This film pulls no punches!It will show you exactly how difficult 'Life' was in those times - its not got many soft edges.The rivalry between the various factions, their attempts to control & manipulate are bang on!The way the church in those days had the last word on everything!The way the land owners made sure that everyone was indebted to them to maintain control.The fact that if you sinned & were caught out - well the consequences were severe as in the ultimate price!Don't watch this film if you just want to see fantasy eye candy, but if you appreciate the truth & want a film that shows an honest appraisal of Life & times in the 16th Century Europe then it will not fail to deliver.It is full of irony, sub plots & intrigue.I am of course biased & as I have got older & my own wisdom has increased I see different things in it that I had not perceived before!It is a mature intellectual persons film.I must of seen it at least 30 times & it still delivers for me.

Take the time out to see it & see what you think. Cheers Jon ;0)

"Ve ALL love you, Freddie!"

Touted on IMDb as a lost gem, as you know this is set in Germany in the 1600s, during the 30 Years War, where Protestants are fighting Catholics and death and destruction is commonplace. It stars Omar Shariff as a wanderer who happens upon this idyllic valley hidden from the rest of the world, and a bearded but still handsome Michael Caine as the head of a bunch of mercenaries who've seen their share of fighting and massacre.

James Bond composer John Barry does the score and there's an early prototype of Moonraker's Space March as the main war theme, though Space March is more melodic to my ears. I know Barry can do no wrong supposedly, but it does seem to be that he and Bond were a perfect match. In other films his signature style is often distracting and the romantic theme of this film, used repetitively and sometimes inappropriately, is intrusive and pretty corny.

Caine has an early protype too - the "Ve ALL love you Freddie" German accent he would adopt 15 years later in the comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. It's pretty iffy and unintentionally comic at times, he's the only one who bothers with a German accent, perhaps to take away the London wideboy. "You're only supposed to sack the bloody church!"

The film didn't quite grab me. For a start, it's odd that Omar Shariff should be fleeing a plague pit and soldiers for only 2 minutes before stumbling upon this idyll. The valley doesn't seem too hidden to me, and if it is, how come the other soldiers found it at the same time? The happy and lovely aspects of the village passed me by, as the inhabitants - especially the women - had that neurotic German temper and look characteristic of the Luthran era, if you believe historian Kenneth Clark's take on it. The Lost Horizon did all this much better.

Still, it's a noble and unusual idea, just let down by unintentionally risble moments. It only really picks up when there's a bit of discord, which runs counter to the film's message.

They Must Have Thought It Was Armegeddon

The Last Valley, a serious historical and sociological drama, is just about the only English language feature film to deal with the Thirty Years War. It's about a valley that because of its inaccessibility escapes some of the ravages of that very brutal conflict.

17th century Europe was the century of the great religious conflicts between Catholic and the many Protestant faiths. The Catholic Hapsburg Holy Roman Empire was gradually losing its grip on more and more of the various little domains that made up their empire. More rulers and the populations of those small kingdoms were converting to either Lutheranism or Calvinism.

Of course the rest of Europe was concerned as to who would come out on top and from 1617 when the conflict first started, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, France, Spain, just about everybody got involved one way or another. Religion was the key factor, but hardly the only one. France because her prime minister Cardinal Richelieu feared the Hapsburgs more than Protestantism allied themselves with the Protestant rulers.

The war itself was fought mostly in Germany, not Germany the nation, but Germany the geographical expression, just a place where the German language predominated. The German people, weak and disunited, were just prey for the other invading powers.

The looting and pillaging you see here is exactly what was going on in 1641 when scholar Omar Sharif who had lost his entire family and home to the war is now reduced to being a wandering beggar and stumbles into this valley which has escaped the struggle. Unfortunately following him in is Michael Caine with a company of mercenaries.

But Sharif talks Caine into doing winter quarters there instead of just sacking the place and moving on as per the norm for the day. An uneasy alliance is formed between, Sharif, Caine and his soldiers, head honcho in the town Nigel Davenport and priest Per Oscarsson.

The peasants here are hardly a noble lot, Sharif's very education makes him a figure of suspicion. Yet they're just ordinary folks trying to survive in a world that they must think is coming to an end. It would have not been out of the ordinary for them to believe that what they were seeing was Armegeddon.

The Thirty Years War is not something that is taught in American schools. I think because the United Kingdom was not involved in it. they had a nice struggle going between the crown and Parliament in the first half of that century and what became the original thirteen colonies of America were all being settled by various immigrant groups. The Last Valley is a tremendous educational tool for anyone teaching European history. We don't see any of the great figures of the war, what we do see is a glimpse into the peasant life of the period that once seen is unforgettable.

James Clavell who later wrote and directed Oriental epics like Shogun and Taipan wrote and directed The Last Valley. He and the rest of the cast and crew should be proud of being involved in a cinema masterpiece.

One of John Barry's Finest Scores

I saw this movie when it was first released in the UK, and that was a long time ago. As others have said, it was not well received by the critics and the public largely stayed away. I went to see it because it had Michael Caine in it and the music was by John Barry. Reasons enough I thought, and I wasn't wrong: it is a mesmerising movie with a well written story beautifully realised for the screen.

John Barry more than rose to the occasion; I think he must also have been greatly inspired by the images and story he was working to.

Now it is available on DVD for everyone to see, at last, and I can't recommend it highly enough. If you want more then have a look here http://www.silvascreen.co.uk/master.cfm?SilvaCode=FILMCD355&id=3466 where you can also get hold of a recreation of the complete original music score composed by John Barry, lovingly and accurately recreated by Nic Raine with The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Crouch End Festival Chorus.

What are you waiting for?

A Solid Snore?

I think that's what my Time Out guide says about this film. I can only assume that this review was made by someone they normally send to see Jim Carrey films as it's inconceivable to me that anyone who appreciates intelligent cinema of this era would not be impressed by this totally neglected film. Following the similarly excellent "Play Dirty" of two years earlier, Caine and Davenport combine again in war time (this time the 30 Years War instead of WW2) to produce an ethereal yet at the same time disturbing impression of civil war in early 17th century Europe.

Caine and his band of soldiers arrive in a secluded valley that appears untouched by the surrounding war, miraculously so in fact. The inhabitants attribute this blessing to a shrine of the Virgin Mary at the top of the valley, which the protestant element in Caine's troop want removed. This in turn inflames religious tensions within the troop as, interestingly, the soldiers come from both sides of the religious divide around which the war initially started, and internecine warfare ensues. Thrown in with this are the peasants who, though apparently Catholic, appear to have no great allegiance to any side and merely want to be left alone. As a background to this Omar Shariff provides the quasi mystical presence of the "philosopher", who like Caine is haunted by the destruction of his home city, though for different reasons to Caine who was part of the army responsible. Regardless, Shariff's character remains loyal to the Captain with transcendental grace.

My first impression was that the director had just seen "The Devils" but in fact this film was made before that. Having said this, if you take away the period and religious content, the feel is perhaps closer to something like "Once Upon a Time in the West", in terms of music and cinematography, with the latter serving to enhance the heavenly quality the valley is clearly meant to possess. I also thought of "Aguirre Wrath of God", but again I believe that was later. All in all then, a much neglected effort.

Must see movie

I've remembered this movie, having only seen it once, for 34 years and i'm excited that i can find it on the internet. Best of the Best. And now i'm looking at it in a different light due to current middle east circumstances. And also reading up on Crusades and early Muslim conflicts. Sharif and Caine - so beautiful. The movie was filmed in the actual village using some actual villagers and clothing they exhumed from their attics. Anyway, i look forward to seeing this movie again after all these years and i recommend it to anyone interested in the Crusades or in fine films. There's originality, great photography, and well written dialogue. But, come on, it's Sharif and Caine, right?

Excellent and spectacular epic film set in the 17th-century during ¨Thirty Years War¨

The movie is set during Thirty years war -1618 to 1648- epoch , finished with ¨Westfalia treatise¨. There had too much fights , destruction, hunger, deceases , the struggles between Catholics and Protestants were bloody and cruel , being dead thousands people .

The picture deals with a peaceable, hidden valley that has remained untouched by the war , there arrives some warriors who impose the terror at a pristine village : murders, rape , rampage, etc.

The good guys are Omar Sharif , Florinda Bolkan , Arthur O'Connell, while the bad and villain guys are Michael Caine , Michael Gothard, Brian Blessed , among others , everybody give awesome performances.

Colorful and appropriate cinematography by John Wilcox, Hammer's usual and it was shown in Cinerama venues, was the last film to use the Todd-AO system for principle photography . John Barry musical score is evocative and breathtaking . Intelligent writing based on a novel by Pick and magnificent direction by James Clavell (¨To Sir , with love¨ and ¨Where's Jack¨), also producer , however being an unfortunate flop.

Rating : Above average 7'5 .Well worth watching.

Great movie!

My fiancee has mentioned this movie to me often. However, she only picked up a DVD of it a few days ago. I just watched it with her, and must say that it is one of the best films I have come across in some considerable time. The cast are all in top form, James Clavell's direction is top notch, and it is one of those films that leaves you with a lot to think about long after the end. Special mention should also be made of the excellent cinematography, and John Barry's fine score which must rank as one of his best.

Memorable movie with excellent production values.

The bad news is the critics savaged this movie when it first came out -everything from Michael Caine's German accent, to Omar Sharif's bedroom eyes to James Clavell's lyrical "Lost Horizon" take on the Thirty Years' War in Europe. The good news is that audiences loved the movie and each generation that rediscovers it recognizes what a terrific movie it really is. Fleeing from both the Black Plague and a savage, unending war, Omar Sharif stumbles onto a hidden valley in the Bavarian mountains, where everything is lush and untouched by outside influences. Then comes Michael Caine, leading a small band of savage mercenaries, who makes the valley his home for the Winter. Multiple themes of peace and war, religion and witchcraft. A well told story, gorgeous to look at, the valley itself is breathtaking. A haunting musical theme, a threatened love story, good action sequences, terrific acting, what more do you want? As happens all too often, the critics were wrong. Add this one to your video or DVD collection.

Superb examination of the interaction between peasants and soldiers

As others have said, a really excellent film--intelligent, well-shot and acted, with historical background that mostly seems to be right on the money.

A few minor nits: I'm not sure that the Caine character, or most anyone, would be shouting "there is no God!" in the 1630's or 40's. And the humanism espoused by the Sharif character must have been quite rare in that day and age. Also, the ending is perhaps a bit heavy-handed in the way it drives home the moral of the story, about the pointlessness of warfare.

But all this is more than balanced by an intelligent screenplay and a highly engaging analysis of the dynamic between the peasants of the village and the soldiers. Reminded me quite a bit of The Seven Samurai, in fact, and compares well with the latter film (and *that* constitutes high praise).

Highly recommended.

Extremely intelligent, well-made historical film

It's a mystery why this film is not better known. It has a magnificent cast; a fascinating setting, a fine script and it is superbly filmed in its European locations. As a microcosm of European society at the time of the 30 Years War it is impressively erudite, yet it is also a highly accessible epic drama, even if you are not particularly interested in the historical background.