60 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not to be underestimated
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,...
Published on 20 Nov 2002 by John Wheeler
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars DARK BLUE WORLD
It is just another could have and should have been a really good tribute to the few. Did we really need the silly PEARL HARBOUR style sub plot.
Published 20 months ago by C. Mcelvaney
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60 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not to be underestimated,
This review is from: Dark Blue World [DVD]  (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.
The aerial combat scenes are truly breathtaking; despite, as I understand from previous pre-release reviews, these scenes being taken from unshown footage from the film “The Battle of Britain”, the scenes are mixed with contemporary footage that gives a true and unprecedented account of the horrors faced by fighter pilots during this conflict. I found the drama of war and conflict in this film on par with, if not more moving, than that of Saving Private Ryan.
Despite their love for the same woman, the central characters go through an extraordinary experience that demonstrates their camaraderie over selfish gains. The ending part to this film is truly unexpected and moving.
Dark Blue world is, essentially a romance, moulded on a Hollywood tried-and-tested theme yet made by European talent that is intent on portraying a much more subtler message. I watched this film just before the Remembrance Ceremony on 10 Nov 2002 and I was left compelled to remember not only British personnel that fell in the Second World War but the countless number of brave personnel not only from Czechoslovakia but France, Poland, Belgium and all the people from occupied territories who so determinedly came to Britain to carry on the fight.
The portrayal of humour, human emotion and horror of this film should not be dismissed on the basis that it is non-US or non-UK made. It is a milestone film for the simple fact that, through a story narrative, it tries to focus on events that are over sixty years old. I would recommend anyone to view this film and make his or her own decisions. For me, this I a film worthy of any collection.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The RAF seen from a Czech perspective,
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This review is from: Dark Blue World [DVD]  (DVD)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.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a tender masterpiece,
This review is from: Dark Blue World [DVD]  (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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Convincingly presented Czech perspective on the Battle of Britain,
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This review is from: Dark Blue World [DVD]  (DVD)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. The themes of the movie and sensitivity of the direction mean this is by no means a fatal flaw, merely a quibble in an otherwise satisfying and well balanced movie.
The main story in this central part is contrasted by scenes from 5 years after the war, in a Czech labour camp. To the unititated this is certainly the most surprising part of the story, how the heroes of the Battle of Britain returned to Czechoslovakia as outcasts and jailed out of fear they could rouse the same fervour against the Soviet regime that they did against the Nazis. One feels there is almost a whole other movie that could have been made out of these few scenes which leave the fate of the main character hanging. Indeed, the contrast of the ending to the warm camaraderie of wartime is refreshingly un-Hollywood, but an integral part of telling the experience of these brave men.
So it's not an absolutely perfect concoction, with a rather trite romantic thread framing an altogether more interesting and relatively untold story of the Second World War. Stunning cinematography and a clutch of memorable performances should win you over however and bump this up to 4 stars. Don't be put off by the Czech language - indeed, much of the movie is in English anyway. This does not mean this is your typical Euro-picture smorgasboard, but rather it is a coherently presented vision superior in many ways to much larger budgeted wartime movies of the last couple of decades. The tangible reality of the Spitfires and the dewy morning `Scramble!'s are worth it alone.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Under-rated Masterpiece!,
This review is from: Dark Blue World [DVD]  (DVD)This is perhaps one of the best war films ever made, full stop. It is a type of film which Hollywood is absolutely incapable of producing. With a microscopic budget, Dark Blue World suceeds in putting farces like 'Pearl Harbor' to shame. Its script is a true work of literature. Its performances are utterly believable. Its special effects are for the most part real and not computer generated.
How many other films do you know of these days that would blow up a real 'antique' train, using real Spitfires in a single real-time take? Classic airplane participants include Spitfires, a Mitchell, and a Heinkel as well as a number of what look to be Tiger Moths masquerading as the Czechoslovakian airforce ca.1939. Though stock footage of Me109s is borrowed from 'The Battle of Britain' the vast majority of aerial footage is unique to this film and improves in sight and sound on contemporary combat scenes from 'P.H.' and 'Memphis Belle'. If you are a warplane/ flight simm enthusiast with a taste for wartime realism, real drama and credible romance (without a hint of schlock) then do not miss this film.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best War Movie since Battle Of Britain,
This review is from: Dark Blue World [DVD]  (DVD)Dark Blue World is without doubt one of the best World War II movie made in the last few decades. Jan Sverak and his team have done a superb job, as have Ondrej Vetchy and the rest of the cast. Oldrich Kaiser is brilliant as the pilot and pianist, Machaty. Tara Fitzgerald is also the perfect actress to play Susan.
The highlight of the film are without doubt the flying sequences. They are very reminiscient of the great sequences used in 'Battle Of Britain'. (Indeed many of the scenes use out-takes from the 1969 classic). The added visual features of tracer bullets, flying debris and even spent cartridges being ejected from the chutes on the bottom sides of the Spitfire wings is brilliant. Sverak has used a good balance of real footage, out-takes, CGI and models to create handsome aerial scenes. The aircraft are suberb. The two Spitfires used in the filming areflown brilliantly by an array of famous warbird pilots(led by Nigel Lamb). Also a highlight of the film are the Bucker Jungmann's used in the opening scenes in pre war Czechoslovakia. The 'Making of Dark Blue World' documentary shows some of the great aerial work being done, including footage from an onboard camera showing some brilliant low flying. Other aircraft include a B-25 Mitchell, archive footage of Spanish Me-109 Buchon', B-17 footage from the film, 'Memphis Belle' as well as old footage of a Heinkel bomber.
The plot is a lot better than some of the other recent war/love movies(Pearl Harbour especially). It seems to be a much more human story that it's contemporaries. The extras are very good, including both Trailers, a collection of aerial shots set to a portion of the films (brilliant) score. A photo gallery set to the czech songs 'Svita' and 'Dark Blue World'. A short series of before and after shots show the making of the visual effects.
A great DVD package, worthy of any war movie collection.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant,
This review is from: Dark Blue World [DVD]  (DVD)I saw this film whilst visiting my girlfriend in Prague - the film was easily the most memorable movie that I saw last year.
The variety of languages used did not at all detract from the plot - the initial scenes were sub-titled in English, followed by some scenes where the Germans are taking control of the Czech airbases - but the German language used is quite easy to follow even without the subtitles. But once the Czech pilots had joined the RAF, many of the scenes were in English with Czech subtitles! I speak no Czech and very basic German, but after the movie I really didn't feel that I had watched a foreign language film - instead I felt strangely multilingual! The consistent use of local language whether that be Czech, English or German gives the film a lot of atmosphere and realism.
This is a beautiful, emotive and action-packed film that explores an unusual facet of second world war history. I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who is in search of an original story line, an exciting new war movie, or who is simply interested in Central/Eastern European culture.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A truly great story,
This review is from: Dark Blue World [DVD]  (DVD)This movie was produced at aproximately the same time as "Peral Harbour"so it's reasonable to compare it to that move. If you just read the twosynopsis you will probably think one movie maker must be copying theother: Two fighter pilots are close friends. They both fall in love withthe same woman. A breach of confidence puts their friendship on trial. Andso on...
However, a synopsis is just that: A very shallow and summary descriptionof what's about to happen. The execution, however, is what makes a goodstory (or a louse one). Unlike the Hollywood counterpart (Peral Harbour),Jan Sverak (the director) manages to describe the events and thecharacters in a believeable, respectful and humorous manner. Gone are thegood-evil archetypes, the bravado and long and tiresome sequences ofstupid dialog you'll see in Pearl Harbour. The acting and directing is thesplendid result of real actors and artists rather than "movie stars".While D.B.W. is somewhat lacking in action compared to P.H. it more thancompensates this with realism, a much better story and quite a few goodlaughs.
The flying is good but not exceptional. Compared to P.H. it's realistic(none of the chicken races or flying split seconds from certain death 90%of the time) and the heroes involved is presented as real persons, withreal feeling. The spitfires look very good for the most part and theaction is ok. As a warplane and aircombat enthusiast I would have lovedsome more of that aspect but the drama is very good (unlike the Hollywoodcounterpart where you'll find yourself fast-forwarding the moronic dialogparts most of the time to get to the action).
Consider this a "war drama" - not a war action film. If you're a warbirdsfan, looking for loads of great flying, you'll do well to lower yourexpectations and consider the aerial scenes a bonus.
This movie leaves you with memories of people and feeling, not just thefading images of explosions and dogfighting spitfires.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They DO make films like they used to,
This review is from: Dark Blue World [DVD]  (DVD)I hadn't heard a thing about this film until I saw a poster at a bus stop. "What's this? A film with Spitfires in it?", I thought, blimey.
Well, if anyone every wanted to see what a modern day WWII would be like, then this is it. Absolutely beutiful. I have to admit to being a total Spitfire nut so I was going to like this film from the start, but what I didn't realise was how passionate about the whole film I would be. Everything about the film is fabulous, the acting, the filming the action, and finally the Story.
A wonderful film of war, friendship and love. You grow to love the characters and feel for them as the story unfolds. I was never just a person watching the film, but totally drawn into the era.
And finally, as well as being a fantastic film, it tells the story of a group of war 'heros' who fought with our country to protect there own.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Czech view,
This review is from: Dark Blue World [DVD]  (DVD)Hi guys, it is very nice to read your reviews. This is a very good movie and maybe not only about friendship but several short scenes have much more deep meaning than you would expect. I was really moved by the scene where the pianist is being brought to the cementary in the working camp - there was a note in another part of the movie that this was the only way how to get out of there. The scene went simultaneously with a proper funeral the other guy got during the war in England, with all the honour he deserved. Very moving. What the state did to their own people in the fifties is one of the blackiest part of our history.
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Dark Blue World [DVD]  by Jan Sverįk (DVD - 2002)