The Arrow (1997)

TV Movie   |    |  Drama, History


The Arrow (1997) Poster

The true story of how Canada built and destroyed the world's most advanced fighter plane back in the 1950s.


7.5/10
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3 February 2005 | Canvoodoo
6
| Entertaining, but *not* accurate history
For those that don't know the history, the Avro Arrow project was a Canadian interceptor project from the late 1950s. It was cancelled due to excessive cost, and to a perception that interceptor aircraft were obsolete in the wake of Sputnik and the development of ICBMs. Subsequently, the Arrow program has become the basis of a Canadian cottage industry of book publishing and conspiracy theory about why the cancellation occurred, the involvement of the *dastardly Americans*, the downfall of the Canadian aircraft industry, etc.

This program is interesting in many respects -- most particularly the use of CGI to show what a flying Arrow would have looked like, and the use of a near-full scale mock up of an Arrow as set dressing in many scenes. (The Arrow was a *very* large aircraft, and building a mock up was a major proposition). Genuine archive footage of the original Arrow is also used. The set design does a good job of setting the scene for the story.

Where the program falls down is in the story itself. Some posters here have suggested that history needs to be mythologized a bit to make it palatable/interesting. I don't agree with this as a general rule, and certainly not in this case, as the story is every bit as interesting just as it occurred. I understand the need to compress characters and keep a story simple enough to fit in a reasonable duration, but there's no need to generate a whole pile of total fiction to fill out the story. The important issue is that many people who watch this program will think that it's 100% historically accurate -- An impression that the program doesn't try very hard to correct. The story is very heavily fictionalized, and diverges significantly from the established history.

The one good part of all this is that one of the extras on the DVD release of "The Arrow" is the one hour CBC documentary "Dateline -- There Never was an Arrow" from 1980. This is probably the most informative and balanced examination of the Arrow program, and was unavailable for many years. If you want some light entertainment, watch "The Arrow" -- It's not bad, just don't take the story seriously. If you want to know the true history, see the "Dateline" documentary, or the Avro Arrow book by Ron Page et. al. from Boston Mills Press.

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