I’m totally, emotionally drained. My mood is sombre. I’m quite angry…at the futility of war. It is just disgusting.
I tend to avoid watching war movies, not because I want to ignore that fact that these things happen but because I struggle to watch the atrocities, the lives being wastefully taken, the horror of it all…and the list goes on. But, as World War I ended 100 years ago today and Maddy from Maddy over at Maddy Loves Her Classic Films is hosting the World War 1 Blogathon, I decided to watch a movie I’ve long wanted to see…Der rote Baron (The Red Baron). I’ve just finished…hence my tender emotional state…but…it is an excellent movie.
The Red Baron is about the ace fighter pilot Manfred von Richthofen (superbly played by Matthias Schweighöfer) who, as a child dreams of the freedom he might find up in the air. Born into aristocracy, he has the opportunity to follow this dream and so, during The Great War, finds himself using his skills for his country. We find ourselves following his ascent to the skies in his red plane but also in his status. He is known as the Red Baron not only because of his skills and abilities but just as importantly, because of his camaraderie with those around him. Initially, this is more a game for him…a means to live out his passion for flying, he even mentions that the objective is “..to bring down aeroplanes, not men”. At the beginning of the movie the atmosphere is lighter, with our young pilots having quite a number of cocky one-liners. As our story and therefore the war progresses, von Richthofen‘s eyes are opened to reality. This largely initiated by Käte (Lena Headey), a nurse desperately helping those less fortunate on a daily basis. As more and more of his pilot friends fall from the skies it all starts hitting home.
Excellent acting from all involved…so much so that you’ll find yourself sitting there feeling the losses, the decisions, the horrors of war. Der rote Baron doesn’t give many gruesome battlefield scenes but I think the emotional ones, the conscious decisions given and orders taken, those scenes are as powerful as any. It also tends to stay away from taking any sides but rather focuses on what would have been experienced by anyone, regardless of which side they were on.
Written and directed by Nikolai Müllerschön, it also stars Til Schweiger, Joseph Fiennes, Maxim Mehmet, Hanno Kofler and Volker Bruch amongst others.
When watching these things, I mourn the general destruction and loss of life…not only the human ones but also that of the environment, the fauna and flora. It makes me hope like crazy that at some point someone will learn from the past so that nobody ever needs to experience something like this again.
It is only fair that we honour the real man behind the movie too (along with everyone else fallen in battle).
For more entries to Maddy’s Blogathon head on over here.