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April 30, 2007 | by  | in Film |
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The First World War represented a new level of mass slaughter in a conflict explicitly for the profit of the respective warring nations’ elites. For the war propagandists of the time, this pointless nightmare was pretty hard to sell to the public. However, there was one aspect of this bloodbath that could be portrayed with all the gallantry and glamour previously associated with wars: the fighter pilots. These “Knights of the Air” were depicted as being chivalrous and honourable, but in reality, a First World War fighter pilot was just as likely to commit atrocities and die a brutal death.

Flyboys chooses to ignore authenticity and goes along with the propaganda.

Flyboys is about the Lafayette Escadrille, a squadron of the French Air Service composed largely of American volunteers before the United States entered the war. The main character is Blaine Rawlings, an idealist rancher who has lost his ranch and needs to get out of town. There is also Reed Cassidy, a battle-hardened veteran made cynical amongst other clichés. The film also features what has to be the most pathetic training montage I have ever seen, a painfully tacked-on love story, and dogfights that are so ridiculous and physically impossible that they border on the cartoonish. (The CGI was very good, though.) On top of all this, one of the characters would sing “Onwards Christian Soldiers” as he machine-gunned people, which I thought was fucking creepy. All this in a badly-paced story with cheesy dialogue.

This film presented a very Walt Disney view of WWI, right down to the crypto-fascist undertones. Also it was just a poorly made film. Considering there have been some really good WW1 films recently (Joyeux Noël, A Very Long Engagement), Flyboys is a major disappointment.


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