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The Last Valley (1971)

  • Action Drama War History
  • People in a small German village in the last valley to remain untouched by the devastating Thirty Years' War try to exist in peace with a group of soldiers occupying the valley.

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    English

    Description

    People in a small German village in the last valley to remain untouched by the devastating Thirty Years' War try to exist in peace with a group of soldiers occupying the valley.

    The Last Valley (1971) download

    The Last Valley (1971) download

    The Last Valley (1971) download


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    Reviews

    Comments

    2 weeks ago

    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.

    2 weeks ago

    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.

    2 weeks ago

    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-

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