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CaptSopwith

Finally Saw It...

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Hello guys! It's been far too long! I hope all is well this summer. I've relocated to my new city and I'm about to embark on a PhD program in a matter of weeks. During my downtime I've been catching up on my movies courtesy of Netflix and I finally got around to watching The Red Baron.

 

 

Wow.

 

 

What an awful, awful movie.

 

 

I thought Flyboys was bad, but as an historian, this one particularly irked me. Manfred von Richthofen is shot down twice by Roy Brown, who is apparently his nemesis? He's romantically involved with his nurse - which I can go with - except that she's there, in his bathrobe, to watch him take off the day he's killed? Then there was the date-movie interlude where Brown and Richthofen roam the Flanders countryside discussing the idiocy of war like two internationalists - the type that wouldn't have really existed until after World War II - talking about the meaninglessness of boundaries and class. They do realize that Manfred was a Baron, right? The most irksome part had to have been the portrayal of Lanoe Hawker. I've always had a fondness for Major Hawker - a slender, nervous man prone to fits of depression who, in spite of these frailties, led 24 squadron admirably before being hunted down by Richthofen. And in the movie he's a fat, bearded, screaming lunatic who yells every time he opens fire in his... SE5? Hawker was killed piloting a DH2.

 

 

I understand that it's Hollywood, except for this: The actual story of Manfred von Richthofen's life would have made a perfectly remarkable movie all by itself. Whereas Flyboys was just wrong - completely wrong - The Red Baron gets just enough right to be unbelievably frustrating. The paint schemes of the Albatros fighters (a plane which never even appeared in Flyboys) are completely correct and yet, Hawker is flying an SE5 in early 1916. The German planes looked accurate to me, where as the Allied planes are a hodge podge of greatest hits packages. HP400s numbering in the hundreds bombing trench positions like pre-historic B17s? An Re8 involved in a dogfight with a Spad 13, a Nieuport 28, and a Fokker Dr1? Really? I had to work to finish this movie. The tragedy is that, if you actually took his biography and made it, verbatim into a movie, it would be an amazing script. Shot in the head while attacking two-seaters, downs Lanoe Hawker, commands one of the best fighting units in history... etc. It goes on. What they managed to do was butcher the history of the Great War (which, it's nice that the trenches finally appeared, nearly an hour and a half into the film) and actually manage to make a snoozer of war movie out of one of the greatest combat pilots in history (I counted what, three dogfighting scenes?).

 

 

What happened to this movie??? I know I'm about three years late to this conversation but I had to get this off my chest.

Edited by CaptSopwith

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I understand that it's Hollywood, except for this:

 

It's Heiligwald, actually: Teutonic production. But the Germans can do much better. I liked also the insignia of Escadrille 94 on Hawker's anachronistic plane, and the German Jewish pilot able to hold on laying on his flaming Albatross' back while this one dives like hell to the ground. Or the pilot igniting a balloon with a flare pistol; never heard of that method, but I suppose many more would have done if it was feasable...

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What an awful, awful movie.

 

 

I thought Flyboys was bad, but as an historian, this one particularly irked me. Manfred von Richthofen is shot down twice by Roy Brown, who is apparently his nemesis? He's romantically involved with his nurse - which I can go with - except that she's there, in his bathrobe, to watch him take off the day he's killed? Then there was the date-movie interlude where Brown and Richthofen roam the Flanders countryside discussing the idiocy of war like two internationalists - the type that wouldn't have really existed until after World War II - talking about the meaninglessness of boundaries and class. They do realize that Manfred was a Baron, right? The most irksome part had to have been the portrayal of Lanoe Hawker. I've always had a fondness for Major Hawker - a slender, nervous man prone to fits of depression who, in spite of these frailties, led 24 squadron admirably before being hunted down by Richthofen. And in the movie he's a fat, bearded, screaming lunatic who yells every time he opens fire in his... SE5? Hawker was killed piloting a DH2.

 

 

I understand that it's Hollywood, except for this: The actual story of Manfred von Richthofen's life would have made a perfectly remarkable movie all by itself. Whereas Flyboys was just wrong - completely wrong - The Red Baron gets just enough right to be unbelievably frustrating. The paint schemes of the Albatros fighters (a plane which never even appeared in Flyboys) are completely correct and yet, Hawker is flying an SE5 in early 1916. The German planes looked accurate to me, where as the Allied planes are a hodge podge of greatest hits packages. HP400s numbering in the hundreds bombing trench positions like pre-historic B17s? An Re8 involved in a dogfight with a Spad 13, a Nieuport 28, and a Fokker Dr1? Really? I had to work to finish this movie. The tragedy is that, if you actually took his biography and made it, verbatim into a movie, it would be an amazing script. Shot in the head while attacking two-seaters, downs Lanoe Hawker, commands one of the best fighting units in history... etc. It goes on. What they managed to do was butcher the history of the Great War (which, it's nice that the trenches finally appeared, nearly an hour and a half into the film) and actually manage to make a snoozer of war movie out of one of the greatest combat pilots in history (I counted what, three dogfighting scenes?).

 

 

What happened to this movie??? I know I'm about three years late to this conversation but I had to get this off my chest.

 

Hi CS, welcome back. Hope all in going well in your new abode (have you updated Olham for his world maps yet?) All the reasons you give above are those which cause me to declare RB worse than Flyboys... in fact it's one of the worst 'air warfare' movies ever, IMHO.

 

If you've a soft spot for Hawker, as have I, then you may be interested in this link

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Correct it is an awful film and as you stated his Autobiography would have been perfect... but they had to add the chick lite stuff... and then Hollywood it... just annoying when they change the story to make it more appealing...

 

Also thanks Dej for the link to Hawker...

Edited by Slartibartfast

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In almost all of the such productions, what makes me really wonder all the time is if the yelling while shooting is any good. Never try it actually on video gaming myself but maybe helps the bullets find their target or even the weapon itself is voice activated, I don't know. But as I find out lately, almost no one will fire an automatic weapon for more than three round and won't yell.

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What an awful, awful movie.

 

Thanks for the synopsis Capt S, you've saved me from the pain.

 

BTW it's a bit off-topic but now you know why so many Scots hated "Braveheart" - again the true story would actually have made a far, far better movie - plus they were messing with not one, but two of our greatest national heroes!

 

Mike

Edited by Mike Dora

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Yeah, what can one say positively - well, the technical side was partly brilliant.

Not all of the FM of the craft, but some of it; and the looks.

If only they had consulted the guys with all the historical knowledge.

 

I was just searching for a good picture, and I like the Albatros D.V in this pic -

but Manfred von Richthofen didn't fly the early version with the "hunchback".

 

Facit: good demonstration of what would have been possible...if it had been done right.

 

 

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Yes, Manfred's were removed. You can see where the headrest used to be on the DV he flew when wounded 6 July 1917.

 

As far as that movie, the first trailer I ever saw showed MvR as a young boy on a horse, watching an airplane go over and outstretching his arms in imitation. The obvious subtext was he had longed for flight since youth. That right there showed me the movie wasn't going to be anything historically accurate--from what I've read about it over the years, I was right--and any interest I had was lost. Not seen it, no interest to see it.

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Most war movies are crap. This one is no exception.

 

When war films are made, the usual procedure is to change the way things happened in reality. I could understand that to a certain extent, if it is absolutely necessary for story purposes, but the way it's usually done completely clashes with history, and it disgusts me to watch such lies being portrayed as a true story.

 

Even the best films, such as the miniseries The Band of Brothers, are not 100% historically accurate. There's always something that the directors and writers think needs to be changed. But I guess most people don't even realize or care about such things, as long as there's plenty of fighting and killing and famous last words.

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Yes, Manfred's were removed. You can see where the headrest used to be on the DV he flew when wounded 6 July 1917.

 

As far as that movie, the first trailer I ever saw showed MvR as a young boy on a horse, watching an airplane go over and outstretching his arms in imitation. The obvious subtext was he had longed for flight since youth. That right there showed me the movie wasn't going to be anything historically accurate--from what I've read about it over the years, I was right--and any interest I had was lost. Not seen it, no interest to see it.

 

hi jim,

you were right to not watch it. and on youtube you can watch every dogfight in the movie (though very arcadish. not as arcadish as flyboys but still), anything else you won't miss.

 

strangely mostly in movies MvR was portrayed as an aristocratic and often arrogant german. this movie turns it around in the other extreme. they portrayed him more like a pacifist who would rather listen the 80ies depeche mode than acting like a ww1 person of the era.

the real MvR's personality i would rather compare to lou gehrig. the iron horse and one of the best and a teamleader, with good education etc. but in public rather shy.

Edited by Creaghorn

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Jim, I had watched it in Cinema, when I still knew nothing about WW1 flying,

or about Manfred von Richthofen.

At that time, I found the movie quite "okay".

During the year after that, I learnt a lot, and read Kilduff's book; later I got yours;

and only then I realised, how they had taken lots of colourful snippets to make

a WW1 fighter pilot movie of - with hardly any relationship to MvR's life.

You'd burst if you watched it - so, for your own sake: don't!

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The only good part about this movie, was the end credits!...it's in my top five all time worst!..sadly, Flyboys is there too...

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But as I find out lately, almost no one will fire an automatic weapon for more than three round and won't yell.

 

Your instructors must have been either very understanding, or deaf from leaving off their ear defenders :)

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Hated Red Baron when I first saw it too, for all the same reasons as everyone else, not least that they could have made a film at least as good by sticking broadly to the truth.

 

Having said that, glass half full, the flying, the planes, the airfields and the uniforms are a joy to behold (apart from the overdone roll-rates etc) and the music score is very good. I can buy the opening boy-on-a-horse scene as an allegory for MvR's subsequent escape from ground to air, and it sets some childhood background without repeating the Blue Max approach which sort of stole the thunder there. I've mellowed a bit with Flyboys too, yes the swarms of Red Dr1s are infuriating to anyone even remotely knowledgeable, some of the flying scenes are corny, staged affairs, and I know some Americans were/are natural shots but drilling the 'Black Falcon' with a .45 is just such corny Yankee Doodle Dandy hookum. But the story is not too badly told and as in RB, some of the visuals are very good and the French air service ambience is a nice change.

 

Still reckon Blue Max is king of the hill, with Aces High next (and they were not perfect either) with The Great Waldo Pepper close behind (enough WW1 factor to qualify and a great flying movie):

 

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The most irksome part had to have been the portrayal of Lanoe Hawker. I've always had a fondness for Major Hawker - a slender, nervous man prone to fits of depression who, in spite of these frailties, led 24 squadron admirably before being hunted down by Richthofen. And in the movie he's a fat, bearded, screaming lunatic who yells every time he opens fire in his... [/quote]

 

Yes, the troll Lanoe Hawker is definitely one of the most painful bits for me.

 

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Never seen Waldo Pepper - is that Udet he is flying against?

 

 

Yes mate tho it's a fictionalised version, it's clearly Udet in his barnstorming days. The flying sequences were very good and the film is alternately funny and sad, a great film for anyone interested in flying.

 

Couple more teasers, if the second clip isn't about the best WW1-style dogfight ever seen in a movie I don't know what was:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1FYRNjpuHA

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlQT6m7StAY

Edited by 33LIMA

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... if the second clip isn't about the best WW1-style dogfight ever seen in a movie I don't know what was:

Well, perhaps you haven't seen Howard Hughes' "Hell's Angels" yet?

Here are some of the fighting scenes - sorry for the music; didn't find the original sound one.

 

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Yes the Hell's Angel's scenes were pretty good too, tho B&W (and marred by a lot of facial over-acting by the fliers and some general over-acting by the professional actors). As with Waldo Pepper it's the over-the-shoulder shots that make the difference, where you can see the pilots really working to stay on the tail or get away, instead of the relatively tame flying or 'blue screen' projections in some films or the effortless CGI that we get such a diet of today.

 

Never particularly liked 'Dawn Patrol'; always liked train sets and it hurt terribly to see them and the nice model poison gas factory being blown sky high by Cooper bombs that fell straight down and then went off like Grand Slams.

 

Looking at Hell's Angels again, I think a flyable Jean Harlow would be nice in P4:

 

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I know only one French movie about WW1 air warfare, and it is definetely not a fine one. "L'instinct de l'ange" (or "Angel's wing", 1993) showed Lambert Wilson (The Merovingian in Matrix 2 & 3) as an avatar of Guynemer: an upper-middle-class boy with feeble constitution due to tuberculosis, very clumsy and dangerous at first in training, but then enraged in stacking air victories to prove he's worth something. He is hated by his brothers-in-arms for his individualistic character and the belief that he brings bad luck, for each time he shoots down a Hun, one of his comrades is killed. He is finally discreetly shot down during a fake dogfight by the one he thought to be his mentor and only real friend, Devrines (avatar of Védrines, of course). Very disturbing, really... The only good point is the presence of many of the planes of La Ferté-Allais (some Morane AI especially, warbirds rarely seen), and some aerial acrobatics staged by Jean Salis.

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I got "L'Instinct de l'Ange" two years ago, and I liked it, although it is produced rather sparsely (I had hoped to see a SPAD);

and it has as much to do with Guynemer as the "Red Baron" had with von Richthofen. Nice to see those early planes.

And yes - the end was more than disturbing.

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I'm not sure how many of you may have seen The Dawn Patrol but it's a rather interesting movie about some British pilots and the change in them from happy-go-lucky young fliers, to seasoned pilots with added responsibilities. I can't speak to the accuracy of craft, authenticity, etc. but I did enjoy it very much. There was a 1930 original but I am speaking of the 1938 remake with David Niven, Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone.

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I'm breaking ranks here a little bit, - but just a little bit.

 

Yes I agree with all the criticism and short comings, and yes, it was indeed a waste to spoil so much good work with screaming inconsistencies, but first time around I quite liked Red Baron. I must say very quickly however, that first time around I watched the film in its natural German, and not speaking a word of German myself, I wasn't following any plot not really understanding what was going on. Apart from MVR and his brother, I wasn't even very sure who was who, nor any of the context of the dialogue.

 

I didn't engage the brain too much, and sat back and enjoyed the spectacle of the trenches and air combat scenes. To be honest I didn't get hung up about the authenticity of the actual fighting or the physics, but visually, I liked it watching it. The colours and cinematography were pretty good.

 

I watched it again with english dialogue, and have to confess I found it boring to listen to. It's funny, first time out, it was fine with everybody speaking German.

 

Would I watch it again? No. Not cover to cover. But I would, and have, caught the big dogfights on Youtube several times, not to learn anything, but just to enjoy the spectacle of it.

 

I haven't actually seen Hells Angels, but it's one film I certainly want to see.

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