Historical reenactment of the air war in the early days of World War Two for control of the skies over Britain as the new Luftwaffe and the Royal Air Force determine whether or not an invasion can take place. Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
The scene featuring the Polish pilots first taste of combat is based on a real event: The Polish 303 "Kosciuszko" Squadron was on a training flight with their English commander Ronald Kellett when one of his pilots, Flying Officer Ludwik Paszkiewicz, noticed a German Dornier bomber and wanted to attack. Kellett turned him down but Paszkiewicz attacked anyways and brought the bomber down. Afterwards he was reprimanded by Kellett in front of the squadron but in private he was (unofficially) commended by Kellett who also told him the 303 was now operational. Paszkiewicz became KIA on 27th September 1940. See more »
During the Stuka raid on the radar stations, the guidance wires are clearly visible as one Stuka crashes into the ground. See more »
This has some of the best aerial fight scenes ever - 'Top Gun' nothwithstanding. If it has faults it is that it can sometimes be a bit dull as it is very historically accurate, as it was a very well documented battle and presumably because when it was made many of the participants were still alive (and some still are).
It might have been better if like the 'Dam Busters' it had adopted a rather more documentary style, rather than having ground based ficticious sub-plots.
There are no particular stars (save the aircraft) but many cameos and it is even handed to the Germans as well, who lost many brave men.
The bits I liked were, as one other has commented, British diplomat Ralph Richardson telling German Curt Jurgens (over tea of course) that we wouldn't be dictated to and the scene in the RAF command bunker as one of the biggest daily air battles develops, where Churchill (suggested only by a puffing cigar but very much a hands on war leader), on surveying the plotting board showing hundreds of attacking German aircraft, orders more reserves into the battle only to be told there are none left, everything we had was in the air or on the ground being refuelled.
If the technology looks dated now, we must not forget that at the time radar was ultra secret and definitely cutting edge - this was the start of electronic warfare.
I believe I am correct in saying the film opened on 15th September 1969, celebrated in the UK as Battle of Britain day and the actual anniversary of the Churchill incident above.
This was truly the finest hour of those young pilots and we did it all without American help or even a Yank guest star..........
PS Christopher Plummer is Canadian!
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