20 January 2006 | lmckenzie-1
This could be a stunning film to watch if ever given the Hollywood big budget treatment with a greater attention to the flying sequences
An interesting Yugoslavian WWII film about which celebrates the relatively unsung story of the Yugoslavian Partisan air-force who took on the might of the Luftwaffe with outdated biplanes in 1942 occupied Yugoslavia.
Cinematically there are some superb sequences in this film shot against the dramatic backdrop of Yugoslavian scenery but the film is badly let down by some poorly thought out and clichéd scenes and dog fights using model aircraft where the aeroplanes have a tendency to burst into unconvincing explosions.
A little skillful editing could do much to improve the appearance of the film to remove some of those unnecessary scenes that distract from the overall quality. Many of these scenes simply don't work or are so clichéd that they become laughable. Little can be done with regard to the dog fights and other ludicrous airborne attack scenes using models.
It's a shame that Hajrudin Krvavac who directed this film couldn't re-shoot some of the aerial sequences concentrating more on superb flying skills and cinematography rather than trying to rely on the dramatic action sequences on a low budget. Good aerial sequences pitching biplane against Messerschmitts would raise this film to the level that it deserves and some clever low level circus flying, carefully shot, would highlight the cavalier but heroic nature of these partisan pilots as well as be thrilling to watch.
In the final flying sequence of the film while the partisans are attacking a bridge suspended over a spectacular gorge an opportunity was missed for some breathtaking flying sequences given the plot that two of the pilots earlier admit to low level flying under a bridge.
The music score by Bojan Adamic on the whole overwhelms the film and is used inappropriately throughout which is something, again, that a little skillful editing could dramatically improve upon and bring the quality and appearance of the film up a notch or two.
Originally filmed in Serbo-Croat, I personally would have much preferred if this film had been released with subtitles rather than being dubbed because the dubbing is extremely poor and distracts from the acting performances of the actors who on the whole do a good job of portraying their characters.
The film also suffers from poor continuity in one or two scenes but like the unnecessary, clichéd scenes, the overbearing and inappropriate use of background score and the poor dubbing these could be skillfully edited out to improve the viewing of the movie enormously.
I was surprised when I watched this movie to find out that it was actually filmed in 1979 because the overall feel of the movie makes it look like a much more recent production much to the credit of Krvavac.
The film is now available on DVD and has a running time of 122 minutes which is still 8 minutes short of the original.
On the whole the film concentrates on a few hit and run flying missions from grass stripped runways and one to watch if you can get over the points mentioned above.
This could be a stunning film if ever given the Hollywood big budget treatment with a greater attention to the flying sequences.