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Compare Tennyson’s poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade” with Richardson’s cinematic presentation of the same event.

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Introduction

Compare Tennyson's poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade" with Richardson's cinematic presentation of the same event. Tennyson's poem and Richardson's cinematic presentation of "The Charge of the Light Brigade" are based on an event that occurred in the Crimean War of 1853-1856. The Charge of the Light Brigade was an attack in the Battle of Balaclava 1854 that had terrible consequences due to a blunder in the lack of effective communication between a group of officers. This resulted in the commander's orders, which were originally meant to regain guns held by the Russians, but instead he ordered his men to charge the main Russian front position, which was defended by large amounts of artillery. Consequently, this resulted in roughly 600 horsemen obeying their commander to their death and only one third of the original men returning. Many people believe this attack was a large mistake in what they thought was a pointless and futile war. Tennyson's poem has many differences compared to Richardson's cinematic presentation however there are also similarities between them. Tennyson uses many poetic devices and techniques throughout his poem. He uses techniques such as metaphors, repetition, personification and enjambement which all have different effects on the reader. For example, the first two lines of stanza one start with repetition, "Half a league, half a league, half a league onward." These sets of words are dactylic and suggest a galloping rhythm. This produces a solid rhythm to the poem from the first lines and is a subtle form of picturing the horses galloping into the battle in the reader's mind. ...read more.

Middle

The reason why Tennyson could not state that the charge was a mistake in his poem was because he was the poet laureate and could not express his own opinion as he had to try and gain the support for his country for the war. This is one of the main issues of contrast between the poem and the film in that the poem does not make it blatant the charge was a mistake but the film obviously states it was a mistake. Also in this stanza Tennyson uses repetition, "their's not to make reply, their's not to reason why, their's but to do and die." This proves a point that the brave soldiers had courage and had no say in the charge and they could not ask questions but only fight bravely for their country. In the next stanza of the poem it also has repetition when it says, "cannon to right of them, cannon to left of them, cannon in front of them," this produces a clear image in the readers mind that the soldiers were surrounded by cannons. This is represented in the film by a close up shot of the cannons firing into the valley on the soldiers. This is a very action packed shot with a fast pace and lots of sound effects of gun and cannon fire and after this scene Richardson suddenly changes the pace by editing this sequence in a sharp manner to a slow paced scene of the noble upper class people eating their breakfast. ...read more.

Conclusion

This tells the reader that the battle is over and the men are returning from the devastation. Finally the poem finishes off with a stanza with an image that the soldiers were heroic, noble, brave and patriotic in the battle, however the film is more focused on who had made the mistake of sending the wrong command. The film shows how the officers were quarrelling over who had made the mistake between each other rather than thinking about the consequences of their mistake and how many men they had killed. This is the main difference between the poem and the film as they both describe the event with opposite views. The poem is certainly more forthcoming in showing how brave and noble the men were and Tennyson tends to stand on his back foot and tries to cover up that the charge was a mistake by the officers by not mentioning who was to blame in the last stanza nor the whole poem. Compared to the film that is completely the opposite, stressing how the charge was a mistake by the officers arguing whose fault it was and only hints how brave the men were when one of the soldiers offers to go again. Overall the poem and the film both have differences between them but on the other hand they also have their similarities as well. Contrasting the two from a wider perspective Richardson and Tennyson attack the task of describing the event in various methods by using differing media methods and techniques overall producing a very detailed presentation of the event "The Charge of the Light Brigade". ...read more.

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