Dark Blue World

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Dark Blue World
Dark blue world dvd.jpg
Australian DVD Cover
Directed by Jan Svěrák
Produced by Eric Abraham
Written by Zdeněk Svěrák
Starring Ondřej Vetchý
Tara FitzGerald
Oldřich Kaiser
Charles Dance
Kryštof Hádek
Music by Ondřej Soukup
Cinematography Vladimír Smutný
Edited by Alois Fišárek
Release date(s) 17 May 2001 (2001-05-17) (Czech Republic)
13 November 2001 (2001-11-13) (United Kingdom)
Running time 115 minutes
Country Czech Republic
United Kingdom
Language Czech
English
German
Slovak
Budget 8 million
Box office $2,300,000 (Worldwide)

Dark Blue World (Czech: Tmavomodrý svět) is a 2001 film by Czech director Jan Svěrák about Czech pilots who fought for the British Royal Air Force during World War II. The screenplay was written by Zdeněk Svěrák, the father of the director.

The film stars Ondřej Vetchý as František (Franta) Sláma, Kryštof Hádek as Karel Vojtíšek and Tara Fitzgerald as Susan. There is also an appearance from Charles Dance and Anna Massey.

Plot[edit]

About one third of the film takes place in 1950, after the war, when the returning Czechoslovak pilots were imprisoned by the new communist government for colluding with the capitalists. Most of these scenes are the interactions between Franta Sláma, and his fellow inmates in the prison hospital (an ex-SS doctor and a convicted burglar). The film switches back between the war and the prison.

The first scene in the film is in the workshop of the prison. Sláma is at a sewing machine when he collapses and is taken to the hospital.

The film proper begins in 1939, just days prior to the German invasion of Czechoslovakia. After the invasion, the Czechoslovakian military is disbanded and the Czechoslovaks have to give up their aircraft. However, Franta and the younger Karel, among others, refuse to submit to their occupiers, and flee to the United Kingdom to join the RAF.

Once they arrive, the British force the Czechoslovaks to retrain from the basics, which infuriates them, especially Karel, who is both impatient to fight the Germans and humiliated to be retaught what he already knows. Karel also sees the compulsory English language lessons as a pointless waste of his time.

The RAF is in such a bad need of pilots during the Battle of Britain that eventually the Czech and Slovak airmen are allowed to fly, and after their first sortie they realise why the British were training them so intensely: a young Czechoslovak nicknamed Tom Tom is shot down by a Messerschmitt Bf-109.

In a different mission while attempting to shoot down a He-111 the rear gunner hits Karel's Spitfire. However he manages to bail out and find his way to a farm. At this farm he meets Susan, whom he falls in love with (though the feeling is not mutual; Susan thinks Karel is far too young). The next day, after returning to the aerodrome, Karel brings Franta to meet Susan. The latter begins to get on well with Susan, though Karel believes that he is still Susan's boyfriend.

A sort of love triangle develops, though it takes Karel quite some time to realise that Susan has feelings for his commander, and it is not until late in the film when he realises that they are in a relationship with each other.

Following a mission to France where the squadron attacks a train, Karel is shot down and Franta lands to rescue him, a move that shows that the two's friendship endures. But soon after the mission, Karel learns about the relationship between Franta and Susan, which leads to a quarrel.

A few missions later while escorting American bombers, Franta's airplane has a malfunction and is forced to ditch into the ocean. His inflatable life raft bursts as he tries to inflate it and Karel decides to help him by dropping his own raft. While attempting to eject the raft, Karel accidentally hits the ocean surface and kills himself. (Miraculously, the raft emerges from the water, so Franta will survive until he is rescued.)

Afterwards, when the war was over, Franta makes the drive to the home of Susan only to find her with her injured husband who had returned from fighting overseas. It is very clear to him that he has no future with Susan now that her husband has returned. However, he protects Susan's relationship with her husband by pretending to have lost his way and needing to ask directions to the next town. Disappointed by what has happened, Franta returns to Czechoslovakia and finds his old girlfriend has married the neighbourhood jobsworth, has given birth to a child, and has taken over Barcha, his dog. These various discoveries come as bitter disappointments to Franta, though all he can do is face the situation as stoically as he can, since there is absolutely nothing he can do to change it. The movie ends with Franta still in prison, daydreaming that he and Karel are talking while flying their Spitfires.

Cast[edit]

Actor Role
Ondřej Vetchý František Sláma
Kryštof Hádek Karel Vojtíšek
Tara FitzGerald Susan
Charles Dance Wing Cmdr. Bentley
Oldřich Kaiser Machatý
David Novotný Bedřich Mrtvý
Linda Rybová Hanička
Jaromír Dulava Kaňka
Lukáš Kantor Tom Tom
Radim Fiala Sysel
Juraj Bernáth Gregora
Miroslav Táborský Houf
Hans-Jörg Assmann Dr. Blaschke
Thure Riefenstein Oberleutnant Hesse
Anna Massey English Teacher
Čestmír Řanda Jr. Pavlata

Response[edit]

The film opened in both the U.S. and Europe to positive reviews, making it the most liked airwar film made. Many of the scenes from the film would go directly to YouTube as clips or music videos. Animator Hayao Miyazaki said that this is his favorite film, as it shows the speed and fragility of airplanes and the historic tragedy of the Czech pilots after the war.[1]

Production[edit]

Dogfight footage from the 1969 film Battle of Britain was seamlessly integrated with contemporary film footage using computer imagery and mastering to create the aerial sequences due to the prohibitively expensive, $10,000 per hour, cost of renting a real Spitfire. Brief shots from the 1990 film Memphis Belle were also used. The film's director Jan Svěrák, played a number of roles, including practically all the crew members of an allied B-25 Mitchell bomber in the escort of a damaged bomber scene.

Box office[edit]

The film was released in America on December 28, 2001 and has grossed $258,771.[2] Film grossed $2,300,000 worldwide.[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Miyazaki, Hayao. 折り返し点1997~2008 [Orikaeshi Ten 1997-2008. Japanese]. Japan: Iwanami Shoten. 2008. Print. ISBN 4-00-022394-1.
  2. ^ http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=darkblueworld.htm
  3. ^ http://www.borovan.cz/1171/jan-sverak-dokoncil-slouceni-produkcnich-firem Czech

External links[edit]