19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
In context - not as flawed as some state, 12 Jun 2005
- Crisp colour
- The widescreen lets you see the shots as intended and gives even more sweep and scale to the flying shots
- the detail is good enough to see the 1969 film grain - in otherwords it is as good as you are going to get.
- This DVD with the second disk with REAL extra features is a TERRIFIC improvement over the VHS tape and the US single disc edition.
The real Battle was the messy and drawn out affair depicted here and as the film does struggle to pull this together in a truly cohesive manner. For the new viewer you will get far more out of the movie if you read a little of the history first.
The Plummer/York personal relationship scenes are criticised by many - but they miss the deeper meaning. Sitting in the background (and briefly introduced in an ops room scene) is a real badly burned Battle of Britain pilot and though the Plummer/York relationship is unevenly presented it is a motif for the real displacement that occured in wartime to personal relationships and the subsequent conflicted feelings felt by York when she learns Plummer has been burned. It is not comfortable and is as much a way of showing the price paid by all in society as the scenes of dead civilians during the bombing.
But - these uneven moments aside - want to see what real 1940's dogfighting was about - this is it. Big name stars portray key characters or composites of real fighter leaders - battling with their problems of leadership, aircraft maintenance and the real shortage - "the few" - the polyglot multinational pilots on the British side - experience getting eroded by constant dog-fights and the inexperienced replacements dying while trying to survive.
With no digital effects - real pilots "went up" day after day through the summer of 1968 flying the real stars - the aircraft. Begged borrowed or re-built for the movie - suspend your beliefs regarding certain marks or engine variants - these are real planes recreating real dogfights behind a camera plane. Freeze frame the climactic "Battle in the Air" sequence - count them - I made it over 27 on screen at once - with the others that had just flown off and others that flew in moments later - in 1968 the film makers had the 11th largest airforce in the world!
Watch the extra DVD to find out just how many hours flying it took to get just one sequence in the can and the director's real fear that in pushing the aging and in some cases only just airworthy aircraft into "combat" again - they might inadvertently recreate they type of accidental collision that happend in the real battle. Watch some of the spectacular footage and see how close they really came on occassion.
For those who wondered how the British could fire Dowding - architect and leader of their defence immediately after the battle - Olivier's performance portrays probably the best explanation you will ever get after wading through the history books trying to figure it out.
You think Private Ryan and Band of Brothers are good? With modern CGI - sure they are - but after you have suspended special effects belief Battle of Britain does a great job of showing what it was like to fight with your backs to the wall - not "surprised" by what was coming next thanks to radar, but fearing your dwindling pilot resources would leave you "outgunned".
A real tribute to the few, orchestrated by those who were really there and survived. Watch it for them and, more importantly, for those who fell.