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Review

Flyboys brings WWII insight

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September 28, 2006

For most of World War I, the United States was not officially involved. Nonetheless, there were Americans who felt compelled to help European allies. Some joined the infantry or Red Cross. Some decided to do something revolutionary — fly.

In the beginning of “Flyboys,” we’re introduced to several characters, young men saying their goodbyes to families from all around the country. One of them, Blaine Rawlings (James Franco), is forced to flee from the law, turning to flying as an alternative. Despite his disreputable history, we see him mature and succeed as he joins dozens of others in a squadron dubbed the Lafayette Escadrille in France.

Though each person joined for different reasons, we get the opportunity to learn about their amazing stories as they developed friendships and courage out there on the battlefield. Based on a true story, we get to see first-hand how they were molded, becoming the world’s first combat pilots.

There were many positive aspects to this movie, but certainly its best attribute was its film editing and cinematography. For me it was so realistic that it made me believe, if even for moments at a time, that I too was up there in the clouds.

Its musical score also had a majestic feel to it, further complementing the emotions accompanied in the scenes, whether peaceful or full of adrenaline.

As the story unfolds, we learn not only about the thoughts and feelings of these brave fliers, but also a mirror of the times. Back then this war had attracted eager young men who dreamed of adventure and glory. Both of these characteristics are exemplified boldly throughout the film.

Another aspect that comes into focus is that soldiers back then still believed in something that seems to have all but disappeared in our consciousness – honor. This defines what’s appropriate out on the battlefield, even against sworn enemies. An understanding between these characters (though they may be complete strangers) clearly coexists.

Also shown is the development of brotherhood between these men, going to the point of trusting their lives with one another, even self-sacrifice if necessary.

While he’s there to complete his training, Rawlings develops an intimate relationship with a local girl.

Easily the best film I’ve seen in months, “Flyboys” is a portrait of another time when everyone had dreams, filled with idealism, which now seems to have been replaced with cynicism.

Strangely enough, very few films have been made that chronicle World War I, much less aerial dog fighting. That’s what makes this movie so unique, because it’s a subject that has rarely been touched.

Its smooth combination of cinematography, music and film editing comes together so well that I couldn’t help but feel impressed. I would honestly recommend it to anyone.
You have to remember that there are some dramatic points, that it’s not just endless action. Therefore, a longer attention span may come in handy.

4/5 stars

Nick Welsh is a student at UW-River Falls.