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31 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unfortunately some historical problems, March 14, 2009
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This review is from: Dresden (DVD)
I thought that this would be an interesting film. I have read two books about the Hamburg firestorm in 1943 and one book on the Dresden firestorm. I have also read several books about the night battle between RAF Bomber Command and the German Nachtjaeger (night fighters). The initial night raid at the beginning of the film is totally unrealistic. The RAF deployed in a bomber stream where individual bombers were guided initially by radio or radar beacons and then dropped their bombs via flares (the Germans called the flares Christmas trees because of the shape and color) dropped by pathfinders who would initially mark the target. The bombers got to the target individually, they could not fly in formation because of the darkness and the lack of many of the navigation devices that are common today. Everything that I have read has told me that it was a lonely dark cold ride for the crew of the bomber. They could not see any other planes from their squadron and they had to be on their toes for German night fighters. In the movie the British bombers are in a formation that would be more suitable for USAAF daylight bombing, close to each other where they could wave to other crews. In real life if this formation had been attempted there would have been multiple mid air collisions between the bombers. When the main British character's plane is later attacked it is by a formation of single engine day fighters (ME-109s). ME-109s were used against Bomber Command. However, they flew singly, high above an attacked city and attacked bombers from above when the bombers stood out against the light background of the burning city. The German ME-109 pilots had no radar and generally were lucky to get back to their air field let along shoot down a bomber. So there was no way that the main character's plane would be attacked by a formation of day fighters unless the bomber was flying during the day. Normally, German night fighters which had short range airborne radar would be guided by ground based radar operators into the bomber stream of a raid and attack bombers according to their onboard radar or visual means. The fighters would attack from behind and below and had special 20mm cannon that were slanted to fire up into the belly of the bomber. Usually, the bomber crew had no clue until they were actually under attack. Sometimes the tail gunner (who had the best view) would spot the stalking fighter, warn the pilot and engage the fighter. But once again it was a one against one kind of battle, not what was shown in this movie.
The middle of the movie after the main character landed and was wounded was slow and again unbelievable with the relationship with the nurse hard to understand let alone believe; and how an apparently able bodied man could not be spotted and identified by the German MPs. The whole hiding in the hospital is pretty far fetched.
The actual bombing of Dresden and the resulting firestorm seemed to have been done well based on the eye witness accounts that I had read in several books.
I know that I am being picky concerning the British bombers and German fighters but all of this is well documented and shows sloppy research by the movie makers.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 9, 2011 11:00:05 AM PST
D. Henley says:
Wayne: I appreciate your historical 'pickiness' and agree with much of what you criticized about this film, especially how farfetched the love story became.. But in its defense, we finally have a German made film which characterizes the complexity of the players w/ uncommon candor--from the crass Gautlieter, to the straight-laced oh-so-German doctor, to the free-spirited but disciplined RAf pilots, (esp. the reluctant officer who questions the military significance of the target), and the German farmers who execute the bailed out pilots on the spot (my uncle had a farmer boy w/ pitchfork to his throat upon landing in his shute and was relieved to see German troops there to 'rescue' him). So in all, yeah, night fighters would have been in in black and flying blind, bombers would have been dispersed and for sure, no one w/o papers could have faked his way through a whole escape let alone become embroiled a love story--But it didn't diminish the complexity of issues that were explored w/ a sense of integrity esp those which question the bombing as an outright terrorist act--one that sought to break the will of the German people and show that devil and arch enemy Stalin, that "we're still in the game"---we should gone on to wipe his army out next!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 14, 2013 4:23:28 PM PDT
Jin Mo says:
"free-spirited but disciplined RAf pilots"? Not all of them.

Posted on Oct 8, 2013 4:32:39 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 8, 2013 4:33:20 PM PDT
denny blanco says:
Good Grief Man.....Name 5 movies you like...and I will make a list of 20 mistakes the producers made.
it is a MOVIE...not a documentary.
Nobody ever claims it is a factual account...it is just a story.

Posted on Mar 5, 2014 10:20:11 PM PST
Wayne: I have studied WWII in the air off and on throughout my life ( I'm 62 ). Sure, you can get down with a magnifying glass and cut "Dresden" apart if you wish, but it's pretty childish. You've lost the forest for the trees, sir.

Posted on Apr 2, 2014 8:43:43 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 10, 2015 10:41:55 PM PDT
Peter Kapp says:
Was not the two engined aircraft appearing below the Lancaster an ME 110 Night Fighter? Wayne sez there were no night fighters in the film and yet one is clearly shown firing on the Lancaster from underneath. Moments later the crew bail out. If the RAF flew in formation it was because at this stage in the war there was very little opposition from the Luftwaffe.

Posted on Jul 26, 2014 4:21:07 AM PDT
i bought this film recently and it did give me an idea of how horrible it must have been at that stage in the war--- the partying and dancing were reminiscent of the kind that was going on all over Germany as the people there refused to see themselves as defeated. Because I am a nurse, I found the hospital scenes poignant and for the most part realistic. The story was focused on the main story line and the bombing--which of course was controversial (and somehow always blamed on Americans). War is awful, I am sure. But in a declared war with uniformed military against states that can negotiate truces, there is no such thing as terrorism. What I am most disappointed in was the rather abrupt and nonsensical ending. In all, this film is very similar to the movie produced by Russians: Stalingrad or the film the Pianist made about the Warsaw Ghetto survivors. All three movies give the impression that Europe was pretty much demolished by this awful war. The rationales for conducting this kind of slaughter just elude me.

Posted on Apr 10, 2015 10:53:24 PM PDT
Peter Kapp says:
The apparently "able bodied man" is shown to be scrutinized by a guard as he crosses the bridge with the refugees. Later he is shown observed by a soldier who begins to start after him before he is swept into the crowd of wounded and into the hospital. The John Light character shows himself to be intuitive and lucky as well as adept with slight of hand magical tricks. He seems extremely self confident as well as sufficiently discrete to conceal his badly accented but obviously fluent German.
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