Baron Manfred von Richthofen is the most feared and celebrated pilot of the German air force in World War I. To him and his companions, air combats are events of sporty nature, technical ... See full summary »
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Baron Manfred von Richthofen is the most feared and celebrated pilot of the German air force in World War I. To him and his companions, air combats are events of sporty nature, technical challenge and honorable acting, ignoring the terrible extent of war. But after falling in love with the nurse Käte, Manfred realizes he is only used for propaganda means. Caught between his disgust for the war, and the responsibility for his fighter wing, von Richthofen sets out to fly again. Written by
Val Kilmer was initially considered for the title role, even though during filming he would have been in his late 40s, at least 20 years older than the real Manfred von Richthofen ever lived to be. See more »
Manfred von Richthofen is depicted as instructing his men to shoot the planes not the pilots, which is the reverse of his real policy. This was not out of brutality, but practicality, as killing the pilot is the most efficient way to preserve one's life in that situation. It was in fact Werner Voss, represented here by Til Schweiger, who followed the principle attributed to Richthofen in the film. See more »
If you're an aviation fan, you're going to love this movie. The aerial scenes of World War I era biplanes in action are truly astounding.
The lead role of the Baron is played by Matthias Schweighöfer whose boyish good looks and magnetic smile are fully exploited to make the Red Baron impossible to dislike. The character of the Baron is portrayed as a young man of high principals who struggles to reconcile his humanity in the completely inhumane circumstances of war. He is torn between his sense of duty to his country and it's megalomaniac leadership and his conscience. Now I don't know if any of that is actually true, but it makes for a touching story nonetheless.
Overwhelmingly I was aware that the makers of this movie wanted to transmit the message that Germans are not the stereotype so often portrayed in war movies as either emotionless auto-bots of death and destruction or blood thirsty hums. Is this done in an effort to raise public opinion of Germans (it is a German production by the way) or because audiences are growing intolerant of stereotyping and it's injurious, evil nature. I can't say, I'd like to believe the latter, but you'll certainly find the Baron and his fellow pilots all endearing characters and you'll be saddened when most of them meet their maker in the course of the story.
The writer director Nikolai Müllerschön isn't very loyal to historical facts in many respects. I was particularly disturbed by the portrayal of the German Emperor (Kaiser Wilhelm) as a warmongering protagonist and Paul Von Hindenburg as a foolish smiling fat man. However, in order for the character of the Baron to shine so brightly the Baron needed dark forces to nobly resist and therefore these men were transformed to serve that purpose. I strongly advise the viewer not to expect to get a history lesson from his movie.
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