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(Oct 14, 2008)
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Henry, a bright young man from a wealthy family living in France during the early 1900s, returns home from a sanitarium cured of tuberculosis. He tries to join the army to serve his country but is declared unfit for service; for fear that he might spread the dreaded disease. The war is raging in the skies and France needs every pilot it can get. Henry, who learned to fly at his own expense, joins a squadron and starts chalking up victories. His reputation as a flying ace arouses jealousy and suspicion among his fellow pilots.
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now that you have found it ....buy it !! RCMP
The initial premise concerns a wealthy and bored young survivor of tuberculosis who on the eve of WWI discovers the thrill of flying, but must struggle against the prevailing prejudices about his condition in order to enter the French military. Ironically by proving himself an ace with "l'instinct de l'ange" he falls victim to an even darker and more sinister form of prejudice.
The cinematography in this film is gorgeous; the art direction is wonderfully rich but subtle; and the flying sequences are, flat out, terrific, but somehow the film lacks tension and eventually loses focus. The latter seems odd considering the film was written and directed by the late Richard Dembo and has a cast that reads like the "who's who" of French film. Performances are uniformly excellent, but the sum of the parts doesn't truly live up to the promise of all that talent or the issues raised in storyline. Camus would probably have loved the ending - if he loved anything. Maybe that's the rub - the film seems somehow detached from itself. Dembo as writer/director raises some of the eternal questions about social behavior, about the ethics of war and using a much loved skill to become a super warrior - or ace. Then he places his socially and politically naive hero at a pivotal point on the cusp of The Great War, and abandons him. Lots of promising possibilities arrive late and ill prepared.
For non-French speakers, do watch this film at least once with the subtitles turned off. It's beautiful enough for that alone.
There are no extras. Really too bad that "Making Of's" where not fashionable when this film was made, although some reflective interviews would have been nice along with a documentary about the WWI aviation museum and airfield just outside Paris. Even without them, this is a film well worth watching!