In this installment of the "Why We Fight" propaganda film series, we have the
account of Great Britain's last stand against the forces of Nazi Germany.
This mainly focuses on the desperate, but successful, battle to maintain
their vital air superiority over the British Isles and the morale of the people
to prevent invasion.
Running Time: 54 Minutes MPAA
The strongest instalment in Capra's propaganda series, The
Battle Of Britain strikes an artful balance between dwelling upon the
paucity of British supplies and celebrating the wealth of British morale - that
is, between stressing the unlikelihood and likelihood of British victory. In
doing so, it defines democratic participation as more inclined to victory than
fascist obedience, thereby encouraging an end to US isolationism: "For something
had happened here that the Germans could never understand..." To this end, Capra
and editor William Hornbeck craft a stunning narrative out of found footage and
dramatic recreations, paying particular attention to the "twenty-eight days of
terror", the Coventry Blitz, and the Second Great Fire of London. In this way,
the horror and significance of the Blitz ultimately finds expression as a series
of shocking, pregnant images, rather than in terms of the slightly florid script
("Six weeks to determine the history of a thousand years"), or Disney- animated
sequences;that is, at the level of montage, as evinced in the use of fire to
evoke both horror and heroism, depending on whether it relates to German or
British air strikes.
The series "Why We Fight" was made so that the soldiers who were fighting
knew the history behind the war, and who their enemies were. That being the
case, it is also a great source for students who are just learning about World
War II. This particular short talks about how brave and steadfast Britain was
while being attacked by the Germans. With maps and footage taken from the enemy,
plus shots showing the famous English 'stiff upper lip,' you find out just how
outnumbered England was, and yet still they prevailed! A very good film,
especially if you follow it with a showing of "Mrs. Miniver."
CAST & CREW
Julius J. Epstein
Philip G. Epstein
AWARDS: National Film Registry
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