German biopic loosely based on the World War I fighter ace Manfred Von Richthofen, nicknamed the Red Baron by friend and foe alike.German biopic loosely based on the World War I fighter ace Manfred Von Richthofen, nicknamed the Red Baron by friend and foe alike.German biopic loosely based on the World War I fighter ace Manfred Von Richthofen, nicknamed the Red Baron by friend and foe alike.
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.
- Jan 21, 2009