Sunday, March 5, 2017

My VHS Purge: Battle of Britain

As part of a downsizing project eight years ago I purged most of my pre-recorded VHS tapes. I've never been a big collector of movies -- my DVD library is fairly small -- but the fact is I had accumulated around 70 tapes:

Battle of Britain (1969) A troubled production complete with massive cost overruns and a shoot that seemed to have no end, this historical aviation epic provides some satisfaction for those movie fans who want to see a breed of filmmaking that will never be seen again. No film company today could afford to make a film like Battle of Britain, at least not one using exclusively the same production methods -- much of it would be done using fake CG fakery, by people who've never taken the time to see how an aircraft, like a Spitfire or Heinkel, twists and turns in the sky. (Try YouTube.) As far as the film as a film goes: It depends on whether the viewer can enjoy a 132-minute story about a critical moment of history. The Royal Air Force's warding off of the mighty German Luftwaffe during the summer of 1940.

What one sees are grand air battles and an abundance of name-actors (at that time, of course). Christopher Plummer, Susannah York, Laurence Olivier, Michael Caine, Curt Jurgens, Robert Shaw, and Trevor Howard are a few of those stars who play historical characters or 'average people' swept up in that pesky thing we humans almost never ask for but often get: War. In this case World War II.

A highlight of many: The Battle in the Air. It makes me a firm believer in cinema's capabilities.

Kudos must go to director Guy Hamilton (1922 - 2016) for giving a somewhat unwieldy story, one with necessary density, some personality; and for remembering the people, who are so often forgotten in these epics.

My dad took me to see Battle of Britain when it hit the CFB Baden-Soelligen movie theatre. Tomorrow I will post a sort of 'VHS extras' piece....

No comments: