Before the United States enters World War I, some American youths volunteer for the French military. Subsequently, they become the first U.S. fighter pilots and form a squadron known as the Lafayette Escadrille, whose exploits and heroism become the stuff of legend. This fictional version follows a laconic Texas rancher, an eager Nebraska kid, a Black boxer already in France, and a New York swell, as they arrive green for training, get their baptism by fire when German planes ambush them on their first mission, and graduate to heroics. Rawlings, the Texan, falls in love with a young woman he meets at a brothel.Written by
When Jensen boards the train Laura runs along the platform to hold his hand. When the scene cuts to the view from behind Laura she is walking. Then from behind Jensen she is running again. See more »
By the start of 1916, World War I had wreaked havoc across Europe. Over nine million people would eventually die.
Although the airplane had only recently been invented, it was quickly adapted into a war machine.
The young men who flew them became the first fighter pilots and a new kind of hero was born.
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There are five combat sequences that make this flick worth your ticket--maybe 20 minutes worth seeing in the entire film. The CGI is excellent, especially the Gotha bomber. Wow. And the Zeppelin ain't bad.
Having said that: It's riddled with factual and historical errors, ALL of which were avoidable had the writers/director cared to pay attention. (It probably would have cost nothing to do it right.)
A short list would include: Nonexistent aircraft in 1916 such as the Fokker Triplanes (all of them red except the black one!), Sopwith Camel, SE-5, and Bristol Fighter.
The concept of training pilots to fly in a combat squadron is of course absurd but the director apparently thought it necessary as a plot device.
French airmen learning to fly in a British airplane (Sopwith Strutter) is equally absurd.
For the real hair splitters, the Gotha and some triplanes have the straight-edged Balkan crosses that appeared two years later. Other fingernails on the blackboard include "9mm Spandau" machine guns (they were 7.92 Mauser) and "canvas" covering on the wings when cotton or linen were used because canvas was much too heavy.
But beyond that, the script takes a pedestrian approach to what could have been a more evocative, even inspiring, film. There are no standout performances, and the syrupy, chaste romance goes nowhere. The only reason for including it probably was to draw in more of an audience as a date flick (not quite a chick flick.) For those of us who truly enjoy aviation films, this one proved a major disappointment but hey, within limits, almost any WW I flying flick is better than no WW I flying flick.
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