The tale is told in flashback. We begin in 1950, in a labour camp in Czechoslovakia. Franta Sláma (Ondrej Vetch ) is imprisoned there for having flown with the RAF during World War II – his reward for having helped liberate his country. From this beginning, we move back to see Sláma’s experiences in England, his fatherly relationship with his protégé Karel Vojtisek (Krystof Hádek), and their love triangle with the married Englishwoman Tara Fitzgerald.
The impressive battle sequence… are made up largely of outtakes from 1969’s Battle of Britain. Cleaned up, this footage is seamlessly matched with new model work, and you would never know it came from another film. The result is that this modest effort has infinitely more convincing aerial footage than the video game mediocrities of Pearl Harbor. The human story is more convincing too.
The audio is clean and sharp, though it could be a bit more powerful. The voices sometimes sound a bit thin. The music and effects have a solid surround presence, however, and the sounds of the bullets zipping by or hitting fuselage are particularly well done.
The picture is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, and looks wonderful. There are different tints used for the different time periods in the film, and the sometimes subtle changes are nicely captured in this transfer. The blacks are solid, the colours warm, and the contrasts well realized. Could the image be just a tiny bit sharper? Perhaps. But otherwise, this is a handsomely presented film.
As thoughtful as the film is the commentary by director Jan Sverák and producer Eric Abraham. The two have much to say of both technical and historical interest, fleshing out the historical context of the film, and going into much detail about how they made an inexpensive film look so big. Also on offer is “The Making of Dark Blue World” – a half-hour documentary, which is also an informative piece of work. Less informative is the visual effects Making-of featurette. Completely silent, this simply shows how Battle of Britain footage was touched up, but does with with no more explanation than a brief title introducing each sequence. “Aerial Symphony” is combat footage set to music. There is also a montage of publicity stills (also scored), the theatrical trailer, the Czech teaser, and trailers for Divided We Fall, From Here to Eternity, and Black Hawk Down. The menu is basic.
An intelligent film with some intelligent features. See this to get a sense of what Pearl Harbor could have been.
Special Features List
- Director and Producer Commentary
- “The Making of Dark Blue World” Documentary
- Making-of Visual Effects Featurette
- “Aerial Symphony” Featurette
- Photo Montage