Spitfire: a movie review by Elana Bowman

November 7, 2018 by Elana Bowman
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Spitfire the documentary is simply beautiful.

John Dibbs’ aerial photography is spectacular, his footage of planes whooshing through the sky is mixed in with archived newsreels, transitions from World War Two, and announcers to the familiar booming tones of Charles Dance’s narration.

It is a great pity that are no Germans interviewees reflecting on how they felt about the RAF, and while it was noted that RJ Mitchell’s original design for the plane was likely stolen from the enemy, its inclusion feels like a vague obligation.

During the documentary, clouds darken at the mention of the Luftwaffe as a thundering score plays over a muffled Hitler speech, and the clouds lighten filled with beautiful music whenever the Brits are mentioned. It’s unnecessary for viewers.

It’s all told by people who were there sharing stories about how the Spitfire, its stable-mate, the Hawker Hurricane and its great adversary, the Messerschmitt 109 came into being during the huge advances in aviation in the interwar period – and then how the pilots fared in combat, three miles up in the skies over Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Some of them are morally conflicted over their sense of pride, while others feel little shame in relishing the moments they shot down enemy planes. Some retell with “tally-ho!” and “cock-a-hoop!”, capturing a whooping nostalgia of young men and women who took to the skies.

It is Mary Ellis (this documentary is dedicated to her) with her piercing intelligent stare, and her stories of being a female pilot during the war made this documentary worth watching even more.

She passed away on the 24th July 2018. It is her recollections which captured the audience. She was an extraordinary pilot and there are several moments that captured her love for the plane and the incredible life she lead. The retired Royal Air Force navigator described Mrs Ellis as a “truly remarkable lady”.

It is such a beautifully filmed quintessentially British documentary and it’s really lovely to watch.

Spitfire opens on the 15 Nov in Australian cinemas.



One Response to “Spitfire: a movie review by Elana Bowman”
  1. Adrian Jackson says:

    The old RAF pilot at the beginning said that no one was helping Britain after Europe was occupied – really. There was all the Commonwealth nations and in the Battle of Britain there were hundreds of them plus Czech and Polish pilots too, in the RAF.

    Check out the list at the end of the 1965 film of the same name although one was from “Israel” which did not exist in 1940. This pilot was most likely from British Palestine in reality.

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