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At a fashionable dinner party in Hong Kong a naval officer is coaxed into revealing details of a dream in which eight persons take off from Bangkok in a Dakota bound for Tokyo and crash in the Japanese mountains. Amongst those listening is Air Marshal Hardie who is due to fly to Tokyo the next day. Hardie initially dismisses the dream because he is scheduled to fly out in a Liberator, but as Hardie arrives at the airport he discovers that the Liberator has developed mechanical problems and has been replaced by a Dakota. When, just before the flight is due to depart, two soldiers board the plane making a complement of eight, Hardie fears that the Dream may be coming true and he is destined to die.Written by
Dave Jenkins <email@example.com>
This has to be one of the few films to address the philosophical concept of predestination versus free will. Made by Ealing Studios (better known for their comedies) it follows a motley group of military officers, civil servants and others who are flying in a small passenger plane from Hong Kong to Tokyo. The night before the flight a naval officer relates a dream he had in which their plane was lost over the sea and eventually crashed on the coast. At first the travellers are amused and rather sceptical, but as the circumstances alter: planes are changed, passengers added - in line with the dream - they become more and more nervous. Then the storm clouds close in.
This has to be one of the better British films of the fifties, as director Leslie Norman nicely builds up the tension notch by notch, allowing occasional respite as the main characters deliberate on superstition and rationality, fate and predestination, the power of dreams. Michael Redgrave is all cool rationality, Denholm Elliot repressed anxiety, and Alexander Knox the sceptic who becomes increasingly unhinged by fear, then philosophically resigned to the inevitable. It's a welcome addition to the list that will never make it as an in-flight movie. If you're nervous about flying, don't watch it.
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