Italy, 1944. As the war takes its toll on Allied forces in Europe, a squadron of black pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen are finally given the chance to prove themselves in the sky – even as they battle discrimination on the ground. It’s a tribute to the unsung heroes who rose above extraordinary challenges and ultimately soared into history.
A truly great MOVIE
Many folks have given this film terrible reviews based on the inaccurate representation of various technical issues; and they’re absolutely right. And they’ve completely missed the point.
They get an A+ on their knowledge of aerial combat and its conduct in the skies of Europe, and an F- on their knowledge of the art, craft, and history of movie-making. George Lucas said plainly that he wanted to give the Tuskegee Airmen the full John Wayne, Hollywood hero movie treatment, and that’s what he did to a T. I can only assume that many reviewers simply do not understand the genre AT ALL. It’s a fable, a comic book; not a documentary, not a docku- drama, not anything else. If you understand and appreciate the old Hollywood formula for telling the hero’s story, you will love this movie. If you don’t like old school John Wayne hero movies, don’t bother. It’s that simple.
An Old-Fashioned War Movie
RED TAILS, the movie about the Tuskegee Airmen that was produced by George Lucas, premiered today. My wife and I went to an afternoon matinée. We both enjoyed the movie. If the STAR WARS and INDIANA JONES movies were Lucas’ attempts to recreate the serials of the 1930s and 1940s, then RED TAILS is his 1945 war movie. It has a very old fashioned feel about it, as if it had been made in 1945 and then stored away until now. I like that but not everyone does. The movie has received a lot of negative reviews from the professional critic class. Many of those reviews dislike RED TAILS because of that old fashioned sensibility. Apparently, war movies made now are only allowed to be cynical and anti-war. RED TAILS is neither anti-war nor pro-war, but it is definitely pro-heroes. There are no anti-heroes in this movie; the pilots and their ground crews are portrayed as real heroes. Some reviews opine that the characters are shallow and not well developed. Again, I did not feel that at all. The characters, including relatively minor supporting characters, seemed well rounded and each one unique enough that it was easy to tell them apart, even when they were in cockpits with helmets and oxygen masks covering much of their faces. Maybe some of the characters were stereotypes that we have seen in war movies many times before, but for me, that added to the period feel of the movie. Another common thread in the professional critics reviews is that they were unhappy that the movie did not devote more time to exploring the discrimination experienced by the Tuskegee pilots. I don’t think this is justified, either. The movie does show the pilots experiencing discrimination, both institutionally in the way the Army assigned them missions and equipment, and individually in their interactions with other soldiers. However, it is also true that is not the main focus of the movie. The movie’s focus is on the air battles and how that combat effects each of them in different ways. In interviews, Lucas has said that his intent was to show the Tuskegee Airmen as heroes, not victims. I think he succeeded.