Dark Blue World


Directed by: Jan Sverak
Written by:Zdenek Sverak
Starring: Ondrej Vetchy, Krystof Hadek, Tara Fitzgerald, Charles Dance, Oldrich Kaiser
Released: April 18, 2002
Grade: B

This is only the second film I have seen from the Czech Republic.  The other was Kolya, which won the Academy Award for best foreign language film in 1996.  Both Kolya and Dark Blue World are directed by Jan Sverak and I’m sure his latest film is only receiving a release in this country following the success of Kolya.

On paper, Dark Blue World is a simple story set against World War II.  When Czechoslovakia was invaded by the Germans in 1939, Czech pilots fled the country and went to England where they could be used to fly English planes in the war effort.  Following the war, many returned home only to be imprisoned by Germans in concentration camps until released in 1951.  This film tells both stories concurrently but the emphasis is placed on the 1939 era.

The experienced Frantisek (Vetchy) and inexperienced Karel (Krystof) are two Czech pilots living and helping out an at English air force base not far outside London.  They’ve had some close calls and seen close friends plummet to their death after being shot down by German planes but they’re still alive and hanging in there.  Their friendship is shattered when both fall in love for the same woman, Susan (Fitzgerald) and Karel’s confidence is betrayed.

The love story doesn’t work and has parrallel’s with the rubbish offered in Pearl Harbor.  Refreshingly however, the film keeps Americans in the background.  This is about the English, the Germans and the Czechoslovakians.  Most war films these days show Americans as the high almighty and I’m proud to see a fresh interpretation of events offered by a different country with a different culture.

There’s some wonderful scenes shot in the air and the aircraft battles are the highlights.  Due to a lack of budget and the inability to find some of the old style aircraft, models were used but having seen the film, it’s almost impossible to discern what is real and what isn’t.  There’s some great cinematography too - the film was shot entriely in Czechoslovakia despite much of it being set in England.  The music score was also note worthy.

I’d only see a handful of foreign language films each year and this is nothing special but it’s nice to see something made in a different style from what we are accustomed.