There's a moving and thought-provoking film somewhere in Czech director Jan
Sverak's new offering. It's just that Dark Blue World isn't it. The film
starts intriguingly enough: it's 1950 and, as punishment for having flown
with Britain's RAF during the Second World War, pilot Frantisek Slama
(Ondrej Vetchy) is being held in a Czech concentration camp as an 'enemy of
the people'. There's a fellow prisoner and even a sympathetic Nazi doctor
with whom the prisoners play illicit games of cards. But what's this looming? It's a
flashback, and before long the path less travelled and infinitely more
interesting turns into a well-known series of clichés revolving around the
rivalry of two men over one woman during the war.
Once the flashback format has been established, the main thrust of the
action begins just as the Nazis invade Czechoslovakia. Frantisek is making
love to his girlfriend when the Germans invade the airbase where he has been
assigned to train young pilots. The Czechs suffer a humiliating surrender,
but Frantisek flees to England with one of his young proteges, Karel
Vojtisek (Krystof Hadek).
Hotheaded and frustrated by eccentric English ways and their endless
training exercises (Sverak exhibits a fine sense of the absurb in his
portrayal of a useless training sequence where Czech and English pilots
attack each other on bicycles equipped with wings), Karel is taught patience
by his mentor, and the two form a close bond which is backed up by a
solidarity when they do eventually hit the skies. Soon however, their
camaraderie is ripped apart when Karel stumbles upon Frantisek making love
to the British woman (Tara Fitzgerald) he himself has declared undying love
Dark Blue World does indeed have some exciting aerial sequences a
combination of blue screen, actual live action filming of existing
Spitfires, computer graphics and out-takes from the 1969 classic, The
Battle of Britain. It looks great too: director of photography Vladimir
Smutny creates a world that is a suitably melancholic shade of blue.
But in all, Dark Blue World is too contrived (the script is leadenly
grounded when the action's not aloft) and full of whimsy (Frantisek's cutsie
dog has a pair of goggles put on him once war is sternly declared) with the
flashback formula creating problems with pacing. And ultimately it's
Frantisek's story after the war, the one that's barely touched upon, wherein
the potentially great film lies.
Reviewed by Monika Maurer
Reader comments about Dark Blue World
James Stevenson (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes:
DARK BLUE WORLD: Without doubt the best film I have ever seen. As a seven year old, I witnessed Czech Spitfire pilots repulsing a low level Luftwaffe raid on Dartmouth, Devon.
Whilst researching my novel, DARTMOUTH CONSPIRACY, I uncovered the terrible truth: Czech airmen, who had escaped Nazi occupation, and who had fought valiantly with the RAF to free Europe from Hitler's domination, ended up in filthy jails in the brutal hands of ignorant Communists when they returned to Czechoslovakia after the war.
Following the publication of my book, I have been honoured to receive letters from former Czech pilots who served with the RAF in those heroic days. We, who live in Britain, owe our freedom to them - and all men and women(regardless of nationality) who matched their courage.
Dominika (email@example.com) writes:
Hey my name is Dominika. Dark Blue world is the best movie ever. I love that movie.The 3 best things about this movie are they talk in czech language because i'm from Slovakia and I could understand it perfectly. The other best thing about this movie is that Krystof Hadek is really hot and the last best thing but not least about this movie is the actors i love how they act it's really cool. I love czech movies. If you ever talk to Krystof tell him he is really hot. I love this movie.
Chris Blair (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes:
The less that stellar reviews of Dark Blue World show the annoyance of British reviewers at having their quaint foibles so devastatingly portrayed through the eyes of the Czech pilots. The Poms are good at taking the piss, and not so good when it happens to them. Ask any Australian cricketer!
Personally, I thought Dark Blue World was excellent, and having had a cocker spaniel myself,I can testify to the authenticity of all the scenes involving the dog.
If you enjoyed Dark Blue World then you may want to look at another film - The Man Who Cried - I really enjoyed them both.
Kurz (Email address withheld) writes:
The film is a gem. Centres on Czech WWII pilots – the older Frantisek, the boyish impulsive Karel and in the background the quiet piano-playing Honza. As the film opens, it is 1950, the war is over and Frantisek and Honza are imprisoned in a former monastery. In their now Communist-controlled native country they are ‘enemy of the people’.
In 1939 many pilots manage to escape German-occupied Europe and make their way to England where they join the RAF. Notwithstanding their high motivation and experience they face RAF reluctance and British stiff upper lip. Finally they fight gallantly in the Battle of Britain. However, Frantisek and Karel find their friendship severely tested when they both fall for the same woman.
In terms of romantic sub-plot, this is very similar to Pearl Harbour. However, given the context of the film and Frantisek’s eventual fate, it is also possible to read the English woman’s treatment of the two men as symbolic of England’s treatment of the Czech and Polish pilots: conveniently forgetting them once the war is over.
In addition, the film is a lot less cliché than Pearl Harbour and the characters are more fully realised. Dark Blue World also scores in terms of its stunning aerial dogfights, which were seamlessly created using a mixture of models, actual live-action aerial filming and out-takes from the 1969 epic The Battle of Britain.
In short, Dark Blue World is a well-made, moving, thought-provoking and exciting drama that puts the likes of Pearl Harbour to shame. Highly recommended.
ian stanley (email@example.com) writes:
I am one of the older generation, an ex-figher pilot & airline captain for 40 years. For me, the love scenes were beautiful & moving. Aerial sequences were breathtaking - it really felt like this. Music wove its way into my heart.
Period setting, yes those times were just like that, not the childish heroics that we witness nowadays.
daniel (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes:
definitely the best movie i've seen in a long time.
forget pearl harbour and all that hollywood garbage.
this movie was made for a fraction of the cost,and strikes me deep,whereas movies like pearl harbour go over my head.
this movie is well done,the battle scenes are convincing,as is the storyline,and it made me cry.takes a bit to get a grown man doing that
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