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Battle of Britain
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Battle of Britain More at IMDbPro »

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96 out of 104 people found the following review useful:

A Historic event recreated with skill and wit.

Author: jlpicard1701E from New York, NY
10 July 2003

Perhaps not many new viewers of this gigantic recreation are aware of the fact that this movie was filmed almost 30 years after the actual events took place.

The efforts to put History on screen were huge. Everything in this account of the facts, comes directly from those who were actually involved in it: from the British and German fighter aces to private Londoners, they all contributed to make this not just another "war movie", but rather a dramatized documentary with accurate precision.

This by no means signifies that it is just that. The sky battles were very carefully choreographed, in accordance to rules of combat, which were followed in the 1940s. Some planes were flown by the same veterans, so that when you see a Messerschmitt Bf-109 followed by Spitfire Mk 1, you know it's for real.

The technical efforts were immense and although the Messerschmitts have reworked engines and even the Heinkel He.111s have different aerials and engine specs, because they were updated by the Spanish Air Force for later use after World War Two, the difference is barely noticeable when one watches one of those spectacular aerial battles.

On the whole, this is a history lesson about how a people, isolated from the rest of the world, and in a minority position, withstood the overwhelming crushing machine of the Axis: the Luftwaffe.

More than a movie, this is a celebration to those brave people, both civilian and military, who did commit themselves against all odds, to resist and fight back a very aggressive and dangerous enemy.

This, together with "The Longest Day", "Sink the Bismarck!", "Tora! Tora! Tora!" and "A Bridge Too Far" is one of those rare examples to make history come to life again and should be considered as didactic material for schools.

An excellent multi-national cast and a skillful direction, make this a masterpiece of its genre.

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91 out of 104 people found the following review useful:

A good film, unfortunately for Hollywood, WW2 started in 1939!

7/10
Author: jmb3222 from United Kingdom
5 March 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film does have its flaws, but is still a great film. It had to be made when it did (sic) if only because the Spanish Air Force still had their Merlin engined Hispano HA-1109 and HA-1112 "Me 109s" and Casa C.2111 "111s" flying in 1968!

It's good that some "stars" do not have big roles. Michael Caine whilst being "hot box office" is shot down - many pilots who seemed invincible were lost. A number of the parts are based on real characters Robert Shaw's is based on Adolf 'Sailor' Malan - 74 Squadron Ace, Susannah York's Harvey is based on one Felicity Hanbury (who later became the Commandant of the WRAF). The scene where she has to deal with a bombed slit trench is based on what happened when Biggin Hill was attacked. Being burned and still being alive was one of the biggest risks - sitting next to a tank of 100 octane whislt being shot at was risky.

It's chief flaws are i) Hurricanes shot down the bulk of the German losses during the Battle - this "error" is primarily because there were more flying Spitfires available. More serious is depicting "The Few" as a group of equals - in reality the class system was still to the fore in some places more so than others. Officer would not mix with NCOs, Auxilliary Air Force pilots (predominantly from the upper classes) looked down on Volunteer Reserve pilots (predominantly from the working/middle classes). But bear in mind this was made less than 30 years after the event when some of the myths and propaganda surrounding it were still treated as the truth, unlike "Pearl Harbor" and "U-571" and other recent films they haven't just thrown historical fact out because it doesn't fit the desired story line!

Many pilots were killed simply because of the stupid tatics they used - fighting by the 1930s RAF rule book until lessons were learnt. Many didn't see what hit them. In most other ways the film is by and large correct. The British were very reluctant to use Polish and Czech squadrons; despite many of these pilots being much more experienced than British.

Oh and having read the other comments here - this does not follow just one squadron, Robert Shaw is one, Michael Caine another, The Czech/Poles others, Christopher Plummer another. I seem to remember that the film makers went out of their way not to show any one squadron as being the "winners" hence no squadron numbers are mentioned - all aircraft codes are ficticious.

A film has to keep an audience's attention for 100+ minutes real life isn't like that just showing the fear and boredom of sitting around on hot summers days dreading the 'phone call would not make a good movie instead compromises are made. When you watch it remember that this wasn't just dreamt up by some scriptwriter this really happened.

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71 out of 84 people found the following review useful:

What this film is really about, and some trivia.

Author: fg52home from Bury, Lancashire
22 May 2004

This film was an attempt to deal with the crucial events of 1940, when Britain might have been invaded and oppressed by Nazi Germany. Had this succeeded then subsequent history might well have been very different, a Europe subjugated by the dark evil of that regime.

As a straight historical account this film fails rather badly. Most of the characters are artificial, created for the Stars and stars involved. Dowding and Park, historically absolutely crucial, never develop properly - a pity. Goering is cartoonised, but at least reflects his total failure to conduct a strategic assault on the UK.

The flying sequences are, mostly, superb. It was a huge achievement to bring together the aircraft used. As an enthusiast I can pick massive holes in those used. None of the 'German' aircraft have correct engines - they were post-war Spanish Air Force stand ins. And that's before we start on the late war mark Spitfires etc. But who cares? The point is the conflict in the air. It is not close enough to 'real' aerial combat - 10 seconds of terror in 60 mins of boredom. But that is the nature of the cinema medium.

The distraction of Suzanne York (BTW she's not trying to get divorced!) in full 40's u/wear was very exciting when I was 16. At 52 I suppose it still gives me the odd moment!

And look for the hanger being 'bombed' behind Suzanne York and Kenneth More, it really WAS blown up at Duxford - boy, were they cross!

The revisionist historians like to claim that the (actual) Battle of Britain was not that important. That the Germans couldn't have crossed the Channel anyway because of the Royal Navy (probably, but not necessarily so. With air supremacy JU87s would have massacred RN vessels). That the Germans already had eyes on Russia and really wanted to ignore GB as a sideline, possible and a fatal mistake. That the Germans lost the battle, rather than the RAF won it (no statistical basis for this, the Luftwaffe smashed itself against the RAF).

But the Battle WAS fought, and won by the RAF.

Which is why I believe this film is worth a viewing.

Especially the Walton scored sequence, where the Luftwaffe's bombers are hacked down by the Hurricanes and Spitfires of the RAF. An impressively moving sequence of the horror of war in the air. To which the music adds enormously.

I place this film well ahead of the 1990's Memphis Belle travesty in depicting the reality of war. It is certainly on a par with 12 O'Clock High.

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70 out of 83 people found the following review useful:

A Classic!!!

Author: tom sawyer (sawyert2003@yahoo.com) from Waterford, Michigan
2 April 2003

The Battle of Britain is a classic movie about one of the key battles of World War 2. It stands up there with the epics The Longest Day, Tora,Tora, Tora and a Bridge Too Far. The all-star cast has well known and lesser known English, Canadian, German and others actors who play their roles well. The movie does a good job of portaying both sides of the battle. The special effects and the air battles hold up well after well over 30 years. The criticisms that people have to me are quite unfair. As for charcter development, the movie is about the battle, much like the Longest Day was and there was no time to develop that part of the movie because it focused on the entirety of the battle. Also this is not like Cross of Iron that someone compared it to. Cross of Iron was a fictious story, while this is done in semi-docudrama style.It is an unfair comparison. The best comparison would be with the three previously listed movies. I liked that fact that some big stars characters did get hurt or died just like many of the better pilots did in the the battle and the war. The movie gives an excellent overview of the battle, much like the other movies listed here. I like the fact about the bit of English snobbery concerning the foreign pilots that they were training even if some were as good or better than they were.This is a four star war movie obout Britains Finest Hour. Where if it wasn't for the Brits holding off the German's, the Allies would not have been able to launch D-Day against the German's. The movie showed bravery and courage from both sides men and pilots. It is a great portrayal of young men in battle as knights of the early war skies. Rent it or buy it, because this is a classic.

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48 out of 53 people found the following review useful:

Holds Up Well

9/10
Author: Bruce Jones (bl.jones@charter.net) from Southern California
21 January 2002

I recently reviewed this film after having not seen it since it was new. Being a 31 year military veteran I have a somewhat different frame of reference for watching films such as this. I look for things in a film many civilians never will. I don't think this one has ever been shown on TV in the US, at least not within a couple of decades, so it's certainly not overplayed here. Luckily, the tape I accessed was in excellent condition so it was crisp and new in appearance. It is still a very excellent film depicting one of Britain's most harrowing times and the unwavering heroism of those who fought so desperately to secure their victory. The film didn't enjoy many fine reviews when it was new as it was compared, as most war films are, to the plethora of fiction produced by the movie industry and REAL history usually comes off looking mundane by comparison. I have found this a similar oddity for many excellent films of war. This is one film that more than adequately stands the test of time and I would absolutely love to see a wide-screen DVD version of it offered. Although it helps to have an understanding of war in general, and in particular the second world war and the actual battle of britain, one can be ignorant of those facts and still come away well entertained. It is a wonderfully produced film, acted with talent and grace by a cast of performers who are now legendary. The sets, costumes and musical score are wonderful and perfectly compliment the cinematography. If I can find a copy I am going to add it to my library.

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42 out of 46 people found the following review useful:

A very good watch

Author: heckles from St. Albans, VT
6 July 1999

A movie commonly praised while in the air but damned once the scenes move to the ground. I found it all watchable and quite inspiring. Not every actor rises above cameo level, but Michael Caine is good, and I would follow Robert Shaw into the thick of any battle fought in human history. The battle scenes are still the best aerial combat sequences on celluloid.

It's odd that Maltin gives this movie fewer stars than the Europroduction "Blue Max", with its staged-looking combat sequences and campily awful dialogue.

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38 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

Very good.

Author: magellan333 from Chattanooga, TN
5 February 2002

Never knew this movie existed until I happened upon it at the local video store. I decided to give it a chance. This movie can be compared to "Tora! Tora! Tora!" in that it gives one the factual perspective of the Battle of Britain and not some love story or "shoot'em up" action adventure set around the Battle of Britain. It is the absence of such elements that makes some viewers not enjoy this kind of film. However, if you are interested in seeing history played out on the screen, or are a history buff like me, you will enjoy this movie. The characters are not deep or complex and there is little character development, but in a movie like this, it is not necessary. There is a pretty useless subplot involving a man and his wife, but other than that, this film is not to be missed by those who enjoy WWII history.

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43 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

Their Finest Hour

Author: Britlaw from London UK
17 January 2000

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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47 out of 58 people found the following review useful:

UNDER RATED!!!

Author: inspt71-1 from Kentucky
29 April 2004



This is one of the most underrated films ever. Battle of Britain is a great movie about the glorius British Royal Air Force in their famous halt to a German invasion and their ability to stop the Germans from Bombing the cities out of existance. Some of the special effects are kind of cheesy but they didn't have Industrial Light and Magic. I'm very impressed about the Cinematography by Freddie Young. Why didn't he receive an Oscar nomination? The aerial photography was excellent. One complaint I will make about the DVD version is that the Main Credits have been changed, The music was credited to Sir William Walton in the DVD. On the VHS, Ron Goodwin composed the score, I don't know why they changed this on the DVD. They also changed the music at the end credits of the movie which I thought wasn't appropriate for some reason. Other than that, this is a great movie with a great cast.

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55 out of 79 people found the following review useful:

Cinema's Finest Hour

10/10
Author: John Mclaren from London, England
28 February 2003

Top drawer war film (indeed THE top notch war flick), in which our chaps (the Brits) give Jerry what-for over the coast of Blighty. Stiff upper lip rules OK as they scramble their Spits into the blue autumn sky, exchange tally-ho's over the intercom, bag a couple of Messerschmitts- and then head home for tea and buns.

OK, I'm biased. My grandfather fought in the battle. However it reminds us what really matters is not Holywood celeb tittle-tattle, but real life and death struggles for our world. As usual the Brits do it with class and dignity. Yes, the impression in the film that all foreigners are clearly bloody (except the Yanks, Canadians, and Anzacs) is perhaps a little dated. However it is a tribute to the heroism of a remarkable generation at a truly momentous point in history.

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