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Tony Grist

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First Light [Sep. 15th, 2010|11:20 am]
Tony Grist
First Light was a glum recreation of the life of a Battle of Britain fighter pilot. Budget constraints had thinned 92 Squadron down to the wing commander and four other blokes- two of whom didn't say very much. Geoffrey Wellum, characterised by a senior officer as "a cocky young bastard", went from being tongue-tied and gauche to tongue-tied and battle-weary. Maybe life in an RAF mess in 1940 was all clipped, callous one-liners and long brooding silences- when one thought about the dead it was bad form to name- but I'm not convinced. Somehow (this is where the budget went) they got hold hold of four or five Spitfires. The Spitfires were lovely.

[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2010-09-15 11:45 am (UTC)
My Dad's strongest memories of his wartime RAF service was trying to cook fried eggs with fried bread (known in our house as a "Binbrook Beauty") over the small heating stove in the centre of their Nissen hut. And Group Captain Leonard Cheshire throwing his weight about.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-15 12:25 pm (UTC)
My instinct- for what it's worth- is that these young men wouldn't have spent their time mooning about, but would have alternated fighting with "larks". If they were all as miserable as the guys in this film I don't see how we'd ever have won the battle.
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From: jorrocks_j
2010-09-16 02:55 am (UTC)

"'First Light'--what, is that about vampires?"

"No, Spitfires mostly. And Hurricanes. Vampires were twin-engine jets..."

Seriously, I remember reading an interview in the Smthsonian Institute's Air & Space magazine about twenty years ago or so, with some surviving pilots from the Battle of Britain. And two of the English pilots had strikingly different reactions to the final question: "So--how do you feel now about having been a part of that?"

One said that he felt it was the best thing he'd ever done and the best part of his life--doing something difficult and dangerous and skilful and graceful to defend his country against people who'd come across the sea to harm it. And another simply said "It was awful. Worst part of my life ever."

Well, the first guy's got The Battle of Britain so perhaps it's only fair that the second should have his movie too.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-16 08:39 am (UTC)

Re: "'First Light'--what, is that about vampires?"

It's left me thinking that the definitive movie about the Battle has yet to be made. What we want is something that captures both points of view- something a little bit complex.

The best WWII air force movie is The Way to the Stars- with Redgrave and Mills and the poem by John Pudney- but that's about Bomber Command.
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