Director Jan Sverák's Dark Blue World embraces sentimentality with such brio it is hard to resist. The film relays the little-known WWII story of Czech fighter pilots who escaped the Nazi occupation of their country to fig... more »ht in Britain's Royal Air Force. Those who survived the battles were placed in work camps upon their return home by a then-entrenched, paranoid Communist regime. Sverák (Kolya) tacks back and forth between Franta (Ondrej Vetchy), a worldly captain in the defunct Czech Air Force, and Karel (Krystof Hádek), his earnest young recruit, as they leave home to fight the enemy on foreign soil. Only one returns to tell his story, from a prison hospital bed. While enduring life in the RAF with fellow Czech pilots, Franta and Karel manage to fall in love with the same woman, learn English, swing dance, recite poems, sing rousing Czech songs, and perform heroic feats. Dogfights in the air and inevitable losses ensue, but it is the genuine camaraderie evoked by a gifted cast of Czech actors that saves the film from effusive excess. Like a charismatic captain steeling his company before battle, Sverák can't resist indulging romantic clichés, but his actors, in their fresh intensity, are more than up to the task set before them. --Fionn Meade« less
"I'm quickly realizing that there are some unbelievably good foreign films out there (I own about a half-dozen now). My wife and I watched Dark Blue World on DVD this weekend. It is one of the best epic war movies that I've ever seen and a very fine DVD release. The cinematography was amazing and the Dolby Digital mix was stunning. I felt as if there really were Spitfires and BF-109s flying through my living room! In case you haven't heard of it, Dark Blue World is about Czech fighter pilots who fought for the RAF during World War II. In addition to an amazing history lesson, it was one of the best war screenplays I've ever seen and was wonderfully acted and directed. This is the first movie in a long, long time that I really felt connected to the characters. It makes me want to see more from this director and these actors. Jan Sverák should have been nominated for Best Director. Ondrej Vetchý (as Frantisek Sláma), Krystof Hádek (as Karel Vojtisek), and Tara Fitzgerald (as Susan) were all outstanding. It is rare that you see a movie so well balanced with stellar performances. Even the dog was perfectly cast (you'll know what I mean when the tears are rolling down your face as the main character has to leave her behind)!Most of the movie is in Czech with English subtitles, which is refreshing. Hearing everything in the correct language sure does make the experience so much more fulfilling. It has the best aerial combat scenes in any film, ever. You'd think that you were seeing very high-quality historical film of the real thing. I'm a pilot and, as such, I'm extremely demanding in this area for accuracy down to the last detail. Let me tell you that the production staff for Dark Blue World didn't miss any detail. The combat sequences will take your breath away and really leave you with an appreciation for the sacrifices made by these pilots.Even though I just saw it a couple of days ago, I'm gonna watch it again really soon. You won't be disappointed!!! I think that this film is the sleeper hit of 2001. It has my unqualified recommendation."
War, flying and romance combined - this time perfectly!
Jakub Uchytil | Prague, Czech Republic | 04/20/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a must-see film for everyone. Jan Sverak (Academy Award winner for "Kolya") again shows his skills and excellence - no wonder he is called "smaller budget Spielberg". But don't be mistaken, this is byfar the most expensive movie project done in this country EVER.Dark Blue World is a movie about Czechoslovak fighter pilots in World War 2, who escaped to Britain to continue their fight against Hitler, after German army has occupied their country. It is a story of war, friendship, love, and the cruelty of fortune, wonderfully entwined to produce a fantastic film. The film is a great drama, yet contains a lot of Sverak's humanity and humor at the same time...Among other things Dark Blue World is arguably the best World War 2 aviation movie I've seen - the aircraft are beautiful, historical background well-researched, and most of all air combat scenes are thrilling but very realistic (modern computer graphics possibilities finally allow these things to be done, and this movie avoided all of the "comic book" effects that todays' directors often get dragged into - see Pearl Harobr). What is really good though is that you can take your girlfriend or wife with you, and she will enjoy herself as well!Finally few important things to mention:For all its seeming similarity to Pearl Harbor, this is a much, much better movie.
Considering that roughly one third of dialogues in this movie are in English, it isn't really a typical "strange foreign subtitled movie", either...
And finally DVD features many excellent extras, including an excellent "The Filming Of" documentary, storyboards, edited scenes, documentary about special effects, and others - lots of goodies.
Be it whether you liked Pearl Harbor or were disappointed by it, this is a film you should see.Do get this DVD, you won't regret it... or even better, go see it in a movie theatre before you buy it, while you can!"
Would've been a monster hit if it weren't a "foreign movie"
Shashank Tripathi | Gadabout | 05/20/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"How do movies as impeccable as this miss the radar of critics and pop studios? Are people so averse to subtitles? Some reviewers (very unfairly) compare this movie to the insipid Pearl Harbour because of a love triangle plot, but that is about all I can think of in terms of parallels. Yes, broadly speaking, this masterpiece pivots around a close relationship that develops between a flying instructor Slama and his junior protegee Karel during the 1940s -- mentor and mentee -- a bond that even a shared love interest fails to break. This could have easily gone down the trodden path, ending up in a hackneyed mushy lovestory with bereaved hearts and skipped beats. Not under Sverak's aegis. For one thing, unlike Pearl Harbour, the love angle is integral to the movie and tightly intertwined with the narrative. A la "The English Patient". The woman in question happens to be married (with a husband who's MIA) and this makes it just that bit more interesting. The cinematography is breathtaking, including some of the best fighter-jet combat sequences you'll see on screen with vintage aircraft (there should have been more of these!) and some in-prison ruthlessness that may leave you squeamish. British accents are occasionally suspect (reminder: Czech movie) but easily glossed over. The splendid soundtrack itself begs a special mention -- if you have seen Kolya, the music is comparably moving. But what makes this marvel of a movie immemorable is its non-Hollywood ending. Without giving away too much, it is a stirring close that confirms that the basic tenets of humanism run deep even amidst the throes of war. Nothing melodramatic, but deeply moving. If you care about a well told story that screams 'Masterpiece', this is required viewing."
WWII Without the Shmaltz!
Archmaker | California | 10/19/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As other reviewers have commented, if you found the movie "Pearl Harbor" trite, simplistic, inane and sentimentally shmaltzy, check this film out. See a different take on WWII flyers with the central story a love triangle with two pilots in love with the same woman, only this one made with some adult sensibility.The story of Czech pilots who fled their Nazi occupied country to fly for the RAF in England, the technical aspects of the film are done with care, and the flying sequences accurate and rendered with excellent special effects. Portrayed with a deliberate absence of "heroics", these courageous men are shown to be normal men doing extraordinarily brave things with a workmanlike and professional attitude. They master their fear and fly and die with understated dignity and strength. Watching them felt like witnessing the real deal. Men die by accident and just plain bad luck; and, their friends have little time to grieve, but must suit-up and go up against the enemy again.The love story develops accidentally and with the logical "illogic" that is love. It is told simply without histrionics, yet the feelings, though muted, are real and powerful.Told in flashback from the horror and ultimate injustice of these heroes having been imprisoned by the Communists on their return to Czechoslavakia after the war, the film ultimately is about friendship and comradeship that survives all the tests that human relationships can be put through. It is an excellent film, but it's low key tone and telling dictates that it misses that final emotional tug that would have made it a classic. 4-1/2 stars. A worthy entry."
Not pearl harbor
Orrin C. Judd | Hanover, NH USA | 08/25/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you read lukewarm reviews of this film, ignore them; they were just blowback from Pearl Harbor. Apparently (I've not seen Pearl Harbor), there are some surface similarities between the two movies--the WWII setting; two friends who are a fliers; a shared love interest--and I suppose that scenario could be considered cliched, but it seems as if critics, who uniformly hated Pearl Harbor, were unwilling to judge Dark Blue World on its own merits. Their reviews are mostly petulant complaints about having to sit through a Czech version of the prior Hollywood flop. The fascinating story here, based on historical events, involves a veteran Czech pilot, Franta (Ondrej Vetchy), and a fresh-scrubbed young farm boy, Karel (Krystof Hádek). >As this too simple description suggests, there's ample ammunition here for critics who wanted to dismiss the film as cliched. But what it's not possible to convey here is how affecting the film is, especially the great love portrayed, which as in all war movies is not the physical love between Franta and Susan but the comradely love of Franta and Karel, who share so much, but ultimately too much. And the point is that their relationship works and it draws us in. They are very likable--the one eager and innocent; the other more experienced and reserved. They're something of an odd match but we can see what they provide to one another, especially in such trying times. We care about them. We ache when they hurt each other. We want them to patch things up. We feel ennobled by the sacrifices they make for one another. We can fathom how beautiful yet painful Franta's memories must be to him and why they would remain so close to the surface of his mind. Indeed, Ondrej Vetchy is especially good as Franta, with his soulful, mournful eyes and the rare gravity he brings to the character. By the end of the film he's experienced so much loss--to the Nazis, to the Communists, of his friends, of lovers--but there's still a calm dignity that compels our attention and earns our respect. We're a couple years on now and maybe folks have forgotten about Pearl Harbor. Heck, I don't think anyone saw it but the critics anyway. So pick up Dark Blue World and watch it for itself, not in order to compare it to some other film. It is a lovely movie. GRADE : A"