Saturday, April 16, 2011

Wings (1927)

A huge epic and a strange mix. On the one hand, it is full of all that bombastic bravado characteristic of many WWII propaganda films (you know, the ones with “VICTORY” in the title) … but under it all there is loss and devastation, covered up (as with cheap white paint) by people’s need for heroes and villains and cheering and parades.
But we see underneath the real personal devastation of knowing that there was so much more beneath the headlines - some black smudging that white and most likely some white smearing the black on the other side of this damned yin/yang war.

So there's the existential element to a film with enough flash to please the glorifiers and enough gloom to speak to those who actually endured it -- a victory story yet with an ultimately not-so-happy ending.

Overall, quite impressive! Amazing battle scenes (a couple of people actually died in the making of this film) mixed with tales of heartbreak and coming to home to a grateful nation that will never understand.

Interesting facts:
Wings is the only silent film ever to win Best Picture.
• The film was extremely popular in part due to the public’s fascination with Charles Lindberg’s recent (1927) transatlantic flight
• It is one of the first widely released films to have nudity. Specifically, lead actress Clara Bow’s breasts can be seen for the briefest of seconds while she is changing and is interrupted a bunch of soldiers. I can’t stress how shocking this was! Our very first Best Picture winner with nudity??? In 1927??

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