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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
Being a pilot, aviation enthusiast & someone who reads everything I can about the Red Baron and WWI flying in general, I was very excited to hear there was a movie on the cards about him. For 2 years I felt like a child on Christmass eve. I couldn't wait to get my hands on this movie. In spite of the negative reviews I imported the DVD to South Africa at great cost. I was going to see it come hell or high water. I picked it up from the post office, rushed home, popped it in the DVD player and I couldn't believe my eyes. I feel robbed. Utterly robbed! I feel like going to the film makers and forcing them to do it over. I WANT MY RED BARON MOVIE!
All this movie is, is a jump from one dramatic speech to another. And if you want to make a movie with just long dramatic dialog, you need actors who can pull it off. The acting in this movie is as bad as it gets. And the award for worst actor in the movie goes to... (drumroll) Volker Bruch for playing Lothar Von Richthofen! Basically everyone was bad. Mathias Schweighofer, Volker Bruch and Lena Headey tries too hard. They act as if they are acting. Even Joseph Fiennes, who I have a great deal of respect for, couldn't pull it off. Especially the Canadian accent. The only actor who didn't look like he was acting was Til Schweiger, but a 46 year old playing a 20 year old? More on that later.
Acting aside, lets look at the real Manfred Von Richthofen vs the movie one. The real one didn't dream of becoming a pilot as it is told in the movie. He joined the air service, because the cavalry(where he started the war) was fast becoming obsolete. He only wanted to do his part in the war effort. In the movie he loves flying, in real life his aircraft was just a platform for his guns. He didn't do aerobatics and frowned upon pilots(like his brother) who did. He always looked respectable and made other officers button up their tunics if they were undone. In the movie he walks around with unbuttoned tunics and stretched jerseys. He didn't go to whorehouses like in the movie, he didn't shoot down Roy Brown twice, there is no evidence of a relationship between Manfred & Kate Otersdorf that here is the basis of the movie. In the movie Lanoe hawker flies a Bristol fighter, in real life he flew a DH2 in his last dogfight(a machine obsolete by then). And the list goes on.
CG effects. Nicely done, but unrealistic. Af Albatrosses could fly like that they would be shooting down F22's over Afganistan. Those planes were built from wood and fabric and would disintegrate if they were flown like in the move. And it seems the movie makers didn't have the money to do complete dogfight scenes, because a fight just starts, then they jump to a speech again.
The movie also jumps from scene to scene so much, that no one who doesn't know the basic history of the Red Baron would understand what is going on.
What market did they aim for when making this movie? Its not a family movie, its too boring and complicated. Action movie? Not much action. Aviation movie? Not much flying. Biographical film? Too much fiction. Drama? Love story? Yes, but why use the Red Baron to make a love story? Why not cowboys talking to horses or poor coal miners?
What should they have done? They should have told his story. He was a soldier, who wanted to do his part in the war. He was the highest scoring ace of WW1, who awarded himself cups for his victories until Germany ran out of silver.He wanted to be the best. His career was greatly influencedby Oswald Boelce, who is mentioned twice in the movie only. He was there when Boelce died. They should have shown the Boelce/Von Richtoven relationship. Werner Voss a 20 year old pilot(not 46), was his main rival for top ace(and good friend), who died in one of the most impressive dogfights of the war. They should have shown the dogfight. They should have shown the Baron's last flight. They basically took all that was interesting about this man and made sure that it was left out of the movie.
All in all, the writers would have a great career in Soap operas as well as the actors.
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