Eagles Over London
|Eagles Over London|
Italian film poster
|Directed by||Enzo G. Castellari|
|Produced by||Edmondo Amati|
|Edited by||Vincenzo Tomassi|
During the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940, a team of German saboteurs assume the identities of dead British soldiers and are transported to England. Their first objective is to cripple British air defences by destroying radar stations. Though the identities and whereabouts of the saboteurs are unknown, a team of British soldiers is set up to track them down and abort their mission. While the Battle of Britain rages overhead, the final confrontation takes place as the German team are about to blow up the RAF Fighter Command control centre.
When Enzo G. Castellari finished the film Kill Them All and Come Back Alone, he asked the producers what their next film would be. They replied a war epic about the Battle of Britain with the Harry Saltzman version yet to be released. Enzo thought that was a great idea but the producers had their sights on Alberto De Martino directing. The producers stipulated that stock footage of the actual Battle of Britain needed to be used in the film and that it should be used in a split-screen method. They asked Enzo if he would direct the special effects sequences and cut it with the stock footage using a split-screen method. Enzo had never heard of "split screen" so he was shown the American films The Thomas Crown Affair and the The Boston Strangler. He shot the effects sequences and mixed it using a triple split screen method. An example is having a British plane shoot on the left side, having a German plane getting hit on the right side, and having stock footage in the middle. When shown this split-screen footage, the producers were so impressed they decided to have Enzo direct the entire picture. After this, Enzo sat down with a writing partner for a week to rewrite the overlong script to make it more action-oriented and less of a "soap opera".
It should be noted[according to whom?] that the film is entirely fictional and historically inaccurate. For instance, the RAF never shot down 94 German planes in one day; London was never "blitzed" in one sortie by "1,000 planes"; and the RAF Control Centre was never attacked in any way. It is also interesting to note[according to whom?] that the director uses Messerschmitt Bf 109s (or near-replicas of them) as RAF "Hawker Hurricanes", and Supermarine Spitfires as Luftwaffe "Bf-109s". There are also interesting[according to whom?] fictional "bombers" that are supposed to be Heinkel He 111 but in reality are CASA 2.111 similar planes built in Spain under licence.
In a contemporary review, The Monthly Film Bulletin stated that the film "shows a glimmer of originality but it is sluggishly developed and peppered with desultory split-screen work" and "the action is efficiently mounted and apart from the appearance of some rather swarthy-looking British Tommies, wartime Britain looks slightly more authentic [...] than the film's many nationalities might have led one to expect."
In a retrospective review, Sight & Sound stated that "The idea of Nazi saboteurs disguised and wreaking havoc in England has been used in films from Ealing's Went the Day Well to The Eagle Has Landed, but those movies lacked the formal flamboyance that Castellari brings to his material." The review concluded that the film is "It's boy's own stuff but it's carried off with such style that it never descends into kitsch."
Aftermath and influence
Roughly thirty percent of the film Eagles Over London was cut into the macaroni combat film From Hell to Victory. Castellari said that he and his wife went to go see From Hell to Victory in theatres and it made him extremely upset that footage he shot was reused in another film.
- McGillivary, David (1971). "Battaglia d'Inghilterra, La (Battle Squadron)". Monthly Film Bulletin (British Film Institute) 38 (444): 19. ISSN 0027-0407.
- Severin Films DVD Case, 2009. Last accessed: September, 2009.
- "A Conversation with Enzo Castellari and Quentin Tarantino Part 2", Severin Films DVD, 2009. Last accessed: September, 2009.
- Eagles Over London (Hong Kong edition), Severin Films DVD, 2011(?). Last accessed: April 2011.
- Macnab, Geoffrey (February 2010). "Eagles Over London" 20 (2): 86. ISSN 0037-4806.