Before the United States enters World War I, some American youths volunteer for the French military. Subsequently, they become the first U.S. fighter pilots and form a squadron known as the Lafayette Escadrille, whose exploits and heroism become the stuff of legend. This fictional version follows a laconic Texas rancher, an eager Nebraska kid, a Black boxer already in France, and a New York swell, as they arrive green for training, get their baptism by fire when German planes ambush them on their first mission, and graduate to heroics. Rawlings, the Texan, falls in love with a young woman he meets at a brothel. Written by
The character of Skinner is based on the Escadrille-pilot Eugene Bullard, an American who had gone to France and worked as a boxer there. He was also a son of a slave, just like Skinner. Bullard was rejected from the Lafayette Escadrille by a prejudiced white man. He served in another escadrille in the Lafayette Flying Corps. See more »
The Black Falcon and the Gotha bomber bear the straight-edged Balkan Cross of 1918 instead of the Iron Cross of 1914-17. See more »
By the start of 1916, World War I had wreaked havoc across Europe. Over nine million people would eventually die.
Although the airplane had only recently been invented, it was quickly adapted into a war machine.
The young men who flew them became the first fighter pilots and a new kind of hero was born.
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This is the story of American volunteers who fought for the French during World War I before America entered the war. It is based on a true story, and largely faithful to that story. The first world war was the first "ugly" war. It is the first war where, as one of the characters observes, "Neither side will win. It will just end." And, this movie does not shrink away from showing the horror, the ugliness, and the overwhelming grimness of war.
Because the special effects made it possible, more than any movie in recent memory, it graphically shows the excitement and the adrenaline rush of combat flying. The combat sequences are nothing short of dazzling; they were so good I could experience vicariously the rush of bullets tearing through cloth fuselages, the spins and turns, and dips and climbs, and barrel rolls, and dives, and with all that, I could look inside myself and know I did not have the courage to do what they did. In the end, that's what this story is about, and the love story, the individual pilot lives fade into the background.
Still, it's worth noting, one of the movie's best moments is the denouement where we learn what happened to the Americans of the Lafayette Escadrille, those who survived. I won't spoil it for you, just know that truth is stranger than fiction, and often a good deal sadder. I enjoyed Flyboys for what it was: the chance to vicariously experience the adrenaline rush of aerial combat. Performances were good, and Jean Reno was great as the captain of the Lafayette Escadrille. Nice popcorn flick.
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