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Dark Blue World [DVD] [2002]

51 customer reviews

Price: £4.17 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Ondrej Vetchý, Krystof Hádek, Tara Fitzgerald, Charles Dance, Oldrich Kaiser
  • Directors: Jan Sverák
  • Writers: Zdenek Sverák
  • Producers: Jan Sverák, Domenico Procacci, Ed Whitmore, Eric Abraham, Genevieve Hofmeyr
  • Format: Subtitled, PAL
  • Language: Czech, English, German, Slovak
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 4 Nov. 2002
  • Run Time: 108 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00006LSJD
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 18,556 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Having flown for the British Royal Air Force, Czech pilot Franta Sláma (Ondrej Vetchy´) finds himself imprisoned in a post-WWII totalitarian Communist labor camp for "betraying" his country. Rewinding this story, award-winning director Jan Sverák takes us back to when Franta and his young protégé Karel Vojtisek (Krystof Hádek) escape Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia to join the RAF in fighting the Germans. Frustrated at not being allowed to fly against the enemy until they can speak English and their RAF re-training is complete, a strong father/son bond between Franta and Karel quickly develops. After three months of training they are finally sent into combat, but the stress of the war, plus their mutual love for a married English woman, tests their strong friendship. DARK BLUE WORLD is a story about love, comradeship and sacrifice told with the nostalgic sentiment of classic Hollywood movies and the romance and historical backdrop of World War II.


The most durable war films tend to have a personal dimension, and Dark Blue World is no exception. This simple but affecting story of Czech air pilots serving in the RAF during the Second World War is sensitively directed by Jan Sverak from a script by his father Zdenek, whose Kolya was an unexpected but deserved hit with UK audiences.

Dark Blue World focuses on the relationship between Frantisek Slama (played with quiet authority by Ondrej Vetchy) and his protégé Karel Vojtisek (a fresh-faced Krystof Hadek). Escaping Czechoslovakia during the Nazi invasion of 1939, they enlist in the RAF, where the father/son relationship is threatened by their mutual attraction to the apparently widowed Susan (Tara Fitzgerald, thoughtfully understated). The film's culmination sees them reconciled in moving circumstances, and the perspective is widened by scenes set in 1950: Slama, as with most Czech soldiers who fought with the Allies, having been sentenced to hard labour by the Communist authorities as a potential security threat. His decent treatment by a German doctor, as opposed to the brutality of the Czech guards, points up the tragic irony of those who fought for freedom, only to finish up on the "wrong" side of the Iron Curtain.

Sverak maintains a persuasive balance between action sequences--into which out-takes from the 1969 epic The Battle of Britain have been seamlessly integrated--and the intimate portrayal of human relationships at a time of profound cultural upheaval. The musical score, tellingly arranged by Adam Klemens, centres around the pre-war song "Svita"--a haunting reminder of old-world charm in contrast to new-world grimness. Dark Blue World persuasively locates a human quality within the historical framework, and so makes for rewarding viewing.

On the DVD: Dark Blue World's original 2.35:1 aspect ratio (enhanced for widescreen TVs) reproduces with excellent clarity. Subtitles are in English only--necessary as the soundtrack includes dialogue in Czech and German--with full English subtitles for the hard of hearing. There's a joint running commentary from the Sveraks, an insightful making of documentary, and featurettes giving the low-down on visual effects and aerial sequences. The running photo montage allows for a full run-through of the indelible song "Svieta", and both the English and (very different) Czech trailers are included. Would that all present-day films were as well catered for. --Richard Whitehouse

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 65 people found the following review helpful By John Wheeler on 20 Nov. 2002
Format: DVD
For those of you that abhor sub-titled films, period, this is not for you. For those of you who are prepared to view a film in its entirety, this is one you might wish to view, and possibly add to your collection.
For me, Dark Blue World has to be one of the best and most poignant European films of the 21st Century. It is a film of many levels and yet, for me, addresses many issues. The film’s preamble text describes the efforts of Czechoslovak pilots who fought during the Battle of Britain in 1940 and beyond, only to be rewarded on their return to their homeland as political prisoners; individuals who, the state fears, would rise against the government in the new Eastern European communist Bloc order. The film regularly fast-forwards to the experiences of these men in the Czechoslovak “gulags” as a contrast to their earlier historical experiences during Word War II
Dark Blue World is, essentially, a story of two Czechoslovak pilots who flee their country under Nazi occupation, to fight with the Royal Air force during the summer of 1940. The theme of the story is their love for one woman; an individual kind and caring enough to take on a plethora of children evacuated from London during the blitz. The counterpoint to the film, however, is extremely moving. Despite these men being qualified pilots, English xenophobia portrays the discrimination they felt in proving that they too were worthy opponents of the Luftwaffe in the cockpit of a Spitfire.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Dr. George L. Sik on 29 Aug. 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The Czechs, like the Poles, were a key part of the RAF during World War II and this film tells it like it is. The fact that they were totally unappreciated when they got back to their homeland, now in the shadow of Stalin, gives this film a poignant ending but, as other reviewers point out, it's really a story about male friendship.

There are only two things over which men will ever fall out: money and women. Here, of course, it's the latter - or rather, one woman in particular. This may make you think of the dreadful film 'Pearl Harbour' (one of the principal reasons why Ben Affleck is now reduced to advertising Lynx Click) and it's true that the love triangle here is occasionally the clumsiest part of the film, but its devastating effects on the male protagonists are portrayed extremely well.

Another crucial aspect of this film's atmosphere is the music. Having been born in Prague, I am familiar with Jezek and the comic songs he composed in the thirties with Voskovec and Werich, many directly satirising Hitler's rise to power. Several are featured here. In fact, the title of this film comes from a Jezek song in which his failing eyesight matches the blues in his heart.

Dark Blue World is a very sad film, but a very impressive one.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Stephen Kennedy TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 14 May 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
There's a compelling story here, that hasn't been told before, of the Czech pilots who fled Czechoslovakia to join the RAF at the beginning of WW II. A collection of warm and convincing performances by the leads show the bond between men during war time, intercut with aerial scenes which are surprisingly and convincingly authentic.. these are real planes up there, and one of the films key strengths is it's feeling of how tangible these planes are, both on and off the ground. This is done by some clever photography, but also by re-using some of the skirmishes shot for `Battle of Britain' back in 1969... seamlessly done so you'd never know it. The end result is you don't have that aftertaste that computer generated flying scenes leave you with of watching a photo realistic cartoon where the physics is not.. quite.. right. Indeed, when real planes are used as they are here, they feel like one of the characters of the movie, so evocative they are of the time. They genuinely feel you can reach out and touch them, and when you hear them, you just know it is real, not some sound engineer's creation.
On the other hand, the bond between men has been illustrated with a somewhat hackneyed story line- two men fall for the same lady during war time, and this aspect, though sweet enough with characters we care about, feels like an overused plot device. Tara Fitzgerald is the weakest of the main leads, let down by a script which fails in this key romantic thread of the story to feel organic and real, contrasted by the way it succeeds so well in the rest of the movie at illustrating the experience of Czech pilots in the RAF in an authentic and uncontrived way.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Alejandra Vernon on 6 Jan. 2005
Format: DVD
Courage, friendship, wartime heroism...all the finest qualities of mankind are contrasted with the cruelty of the Nazi and Soviet occupations of Czechoslovakia in this WWII story of Czech fighter pilots who escaped the Nazi invasion to serve in England, and it is told in flashback from an airman who returns to his homeland, and is jailed and tortured by the Soviets, who took over and finished the job of crushing the Czech people when the Nazis were defeated.
The aerial photography is superb, and anyone interested in early fighter planes will love this film; cinematographer Vladimir Smutny is also masterful in the interior shots, with their ambiance of the late '30s-early '40s, and in capturing the picturesque English countryside. There is a gentleness to the story despite the violence of the war, and director Jan Sverak manages to touch every emotion during the course of this 112 minute film. It is brilliantly directed as well as acted, and the two male leads, Ondrej Vetchy (Franta) and Krystof Hadek (Karel), make their parts into living beings, and we laugh and cry with them.
Others of note are Tara Fitzgerald (Susan), Charles Dance (Commander Bentley), and Linda Rybova (Hanicka), and in the small part of an English teacher, Anna Massey puts in a memorable performance.
Inspiring, deeply moving, very human, this is a film that gets better with repeated viewing, and is one to own and treasure.
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