The Cold Blue review – return to the deadly skies of the second world war

Erik Nelson’s absorbing new documentary uses unseen footage shot by William Wyler for his 1944 film The Memphis Belle

Here is an interesting footnote to one of the great documentaries of the second world war era – The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress (1944), William Wyler’s study of the B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft, which flew hugely dangerous daytime raids into Germany from Raf Bassingbourn in Cambridgeshire. Wyler himself went with them and took the same risks as the combatants. Erik Nelson’s film recounts the discovery and subsequent digital restoration of the fascinating undiscovered footage that Wyler and his crew shot.

There is a succession of poignant images: very often of that piercingly blue sky ­– the hostile “cold blue” – in which the Memphis Belle and the other B-17s flew their missions. Perhaps the most arresting material is that showing civilian life in the ruins of Berlin in

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