Special Cinema Spotlight: Flyboys

A Vintage Nerd

It is a rare thing these days to find a film set during The Great War (WWI). Flyboys  (2007) is based on the true story of a 38 Americans who volunteered to be trained airmen during WWI before American became officially involved. This meant that these men volunteered because they wanted to and when I think of the amount of courage and madness that must have been in each of them I feel both proud and awed.

This group of gentlemen were a part of a group called Lafayette Escadrille. They were trained, flew, and fought with the French in 1916.

The films stars James Franco as Blaine Rawlings who joins up as his property is about to foreclose. Rawlings and a few other Americans get trained by French Captain Georges Thenault (Jean Reno) and mentored by another fellow American, an ace pilot named Reed Cassidy (Martin Henderson). The new pilots struggle with the demands of learning how to fly but eventually band together to head off to battle.

I enjoyed the interactions between all the main characters as well as the dogfights. Seeing what could have happened in the viewpoint of an American in Europe during WWI was fascinating to watch.


There is a need for more stories to be told about The Great War or even about the first twenty years of the last century. We really don't hear as much about it and I don't know if you are but I am intrigued by it. The entire world and its view changed dramatically after WWI and after it we have never been the same.

This isn't an academy award winning film or has Oscar performances in it but it tells the story well and makes you wonder what happened to those boys after the war. At the end of the film they do share what happened to some of the pilots so I found that a neat way to end the story.

Are you intrigued by The Great War? What films or shows do you enjoy that are set during that era?

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  1. We recently had a mini-series called "Anzac Girls" following the stories of some Australian and New Zealand nurses through WWI. Again, it wasn't phenomenal, but I enjoyed it a lot. With the anniversary of Gallipoli, there is a lot of increasing interest in the first world war, and I've been learning more about my family who were there (my great-great-grandfather was a Chaplain and took a lot of photos and wrote a lot of letters home about it). I'd like to see some more films about it too!

  2. I REALLY like this movie (as I commented on another one of your posts... I really like it...), and there are some good WWI movies out there, but you're right about them being few and far between. These stories definitely do need to be told!
    Another WWI movie that is good is "The Lost Battalion" from 2001. It's a heart-wrenching story about men told to guard a position no matter the cost in the Argonne Forest, but it gives really good insight into what WWI battle was actually like.


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