A certain number of French fighter pilots who will not accept the Second Armistice at Compiègne nor Vichy's orders decide to join the USSR. Once they have reached Moscow they resume ...
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A certain number of French fighter pilots who will not accept the Second Armistice at Compiègne nor Vichy's orders decide to join the USSR. Once they have reached Moscow they resume training and form a squadron they call "Normandie". Reinforced in 1944, the squadron wins many victories. Following the acts of valor displayed by its pilots during the Battle of the Nieman River, it becomes the "Normandie-Niemen" squadron for the rest of times... Written by
A French-Russian co-production ,dedicated to the brave French fighter pilots who helped the Russian ones in 1942.
The beginning of the movie is not to be missed:the Nazis seem to have the upper hands,and the French army,who was defeated ,has to obey "the old man" (Pétain)and to superiors who call their subordinates deserters if they rebel against them .The officer is more interested in his men's slovenly appearance than any resistance .
That's why some pilots ,often very Young (one of them has not turned twenty),disgusted by their insincerity,join,after many difficulties,the Russian air force.
Jean Dréville avoids a story like tale,he only shows the brotherhood and the friendship of these men of two nations,struggling against their common enemy: Nazism.All the soldiers keep their first language (there is an interpreter),which shows respect for the audience .But they do understand one another:their smiles,the wistful Russian songs .Even if accidents happen (a Russian pilot shot down by a French(Pierre Trabaud) ),they hope for the best .
-The Russian playing a sad tune on his accordion;suddenly his playing becomes joyful and catchy: a pilot ,they thought was killed in action ,has reappeared ;beaming,he writes his name again on the blackboard with a proud 1 (he shot down a German plane)
-A pilot (Georges Rivière)wants to share the things owned by a missing man:his mates' reactions ;is he right?is he wrong?
I do not know the Russian actors,but the French ones are familiar faces :there 's no real star ,but they were all talented supporting thespians in many movies (besides Trabaud and Rivière,one can mention André Oumansky,Marc Cassot (as the commander),Gianni Esposito (as a pacifist schoolteacher ,but Goebbels's sentence "when I hear the word culture,I reach for my gun" made him a fighter pilot).
Dreville's follow-up movie was a super production "La Fayette":the French marquis coming to the Americans' rescue this time!and they say Dreville was not an auteur!
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