Though I grew up with a biography in my father's library of the Red Baron, I just merely glanced at the cover, viewing the sly smile of the young bald man, no doubt a pin up of his age. This documentary allowed me to learn what I had missed by not turning the covers of that book. Born into minor Prussian nobility, this hunter born crosses the threshold of the old world into the new mechanized war of a dawning 20th century in which machine was superior to man's prowess. Manfred von Richtoffen managed to briefly live in that twilight between two clashing ideas. This hour film investigates how the most famous aviator of that war died, and the deepening foreboding he felt towards the end of his own existence. Surely he knew evitably the dog fight hunter would become the hunted and breaking the rules of his recorded thoughts on warfare certainly sealed his fate, as the 80 planes he brought down in combat. I applaud the filmmakers for not mentioning that a young Herman Goering served in that same squadron. It could have easily exploited that angle in a tawdry fashion but sticks to the basic premise sequestered in the title. In the end, it really doesn't matter who killed the Red Baron, though the filmmakers really bring forth a strong case. What really matters is that young men die -- and those who serve in air are no immune to the horrific legacy of brutal combat than the infantrymen on the ground.
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