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Movie Review: Dark Blue World (2001) Czech Republic
by Lee Rouse

 

Czechoslovakia, 1950. Ex-RAF Czech pilot Franta Slama is confined to a Communist labour camp (i.e. prison) as an "enemy of the people". Slama flew for the RAF during WWII and is considered a risk to the Communist regime, a war hero and potential "freedom fighter". Slama is in the hospital ward recovering from pneumonia. His doctor is a former SS surgeon, who is also confined to the prison. During their ensuing discussions in the hospital ward, Slama recollects his wartime experiences- the Nazi occupation of his Czech airbase in 1939, his and trainee pilot Karel Vojtisek's subsequent flight to England, and their subsequent experience as combatants. These men become combatants, united against the Hun who invades the English skies, and against each other as they fall in love with the same English woman.

This Czech import movie was unknown to me until fellow club member Frank Eason mentioned it at a recent club meeting. Having watched it twice (once by myself, and once with my wife), I can say that this movie has something for just about everyone. Of course, I was most interested in the aircraft and battle scenes. In this movie you will see a couple of Spitfire Mk5's, which though the magic of digital technology, multiply into a full squadron. There are also Heinkel 111's and Me 109G's, albeit modified postwar to carry the Hispano Suiza engine rather than their original German made ones. The aerial photography and battle scenes are quite good, and the filmmakers were talented enough to make it just about impossible to tell the difference between the real thing, digital fabrication and use of large scale models. There are a couple of errors in the pilot's lines too, for example when Slama radios back to base "One Junkers down!", after flaming an He111. Still, this is minor, and only something that a propeller head like me would notice.

In addition to great technical effects, the acting is pretty good too. And the love triangle part of the story is well done and acted (unlike the boorish job done by the two pilots and WAAF in the movie Pearl Harbor). One warning about the movie. The predominant language is Czech, with subtitles in English. So you do have to pay attention to the screen to follow what's going on, particularly the parts of the movie that take place in Czechoslovakia.