Oleg had been pestering me to watch this movie for a few years now, and then Dr. Strangegun pressed his copy into my hands, so when Bob came over last night, we had a movie night. (I forgot the popcorn.)
Short plot synopsis: Czech pilots flee the occupation of their country by insufferable Nazi prigs. Heroics, male bonding, romance, and tragedy all ensue. Impressions follow:
1: I hate watching subtitled flicks for the most part; I loved this movie.
2: If I had a time machine, I would go back in time, beat the holy hell out of Jerry Bruckheimer, and take every penny of budget and every CGI artist he had for Pearl Harbor, and give them to the obviously more deserving Jan Sverák.
3: Only as big a nitpicker as I am would notice (or care) that the part of the Geman Bf. 109 Emils and Gustavs (the bad guy fighter planes, for you non-aviation buffs) was being played by Spanish Merlin-engined Hispano HA-1112's, and that the picture of the ship the missing David (a Royal Navy ossifer) was supposedly serving on looked suspiciously like an Iowa-class battlewagon, a class conspicuously absent from the RN and conspicuously present in the USN. (Thus my desire to deport Bruckheimer's CGI boys to Praha...)
4. Holy crap! Character development! Subtle foreshadowing! Careful plot development! Wow! Are they still teaching these things in some film school someplace in Europe? When is Jan going to come to Hollywood to spread The Word?
And now for the secret Number Five. Highlight below only if you want spoilers:
5) No wonder Oleg liked this flick; it is so... so... Slavic! Look, I'm not as addicted to happy endings as your average Suzy Sofaspud, but still... Does such a likeable lead character need to take it in the slats every five minutes? I mean, okay, he cheats on his schmoopie back home with his best friend's girlfriend, thus damaging the friendship with his best friend. Then he loses the best friend. Then the crippled husband of the girlfriend returns from the dead, so our hero loses her, and she gets to live out a life of guilt and misery. Then the hero goes back to his homeland, finds out his long-lost schmoopie has gotten hitched, had a kid, and stolen the affections of his beloved pet dog. Then he gets thrown into a fricken communist gulag where they beat another of his wartime buddies to death. Why they didn't have a midget run out of nowhere and kick him in the nuts for no reason at all right before the credits rolled is beyond me, because that would have just been the cherry on the icing of the cake of his life. For heaven's sake, the ending made 1984 look like the Feel-Good Family Hit Of The Summer! I mean, damn, you folks east of the Elbe need to lighten the hell up every now and again, okay? Let the good guy win once in a while; it won't kill you.
Anyhow, if you're a movie buff, it's a must see. I'll be buying my own copy ASAP.