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DVD Review

DVD cover

Concorde: The Early Years
Volume 1 (1964-1969)


RRP: £14.99
Certificate: E
Available 23 November 2009

I remember that when I was about fourteen I belonged to the Transport Club at school. This rather strange and eclectic group of boys would spend once a week watching films which dealt with anything which moved by its own power. Not having any money to rent films the club discovered that many commercial firms would produce little documentaries to promote their products.

Concorde: The Early Years: Volume1 (1964 - 1969) is such a collection of films. Half documentary, half promotional material, the films were produced by the long gone British Aircraft Corporation and its French collaborator, Sud Aviation France, in the Concorde project.

Because of the age of the films, the print quality isn’t great with dirt evident on most prints, that said they have survived remarkably well and Concorde fans will be more interested in the information and shots of Concorde’s progress than they will the overall picture quality. All the short films are in colour with a mono audio track.

Volume One holds seven short films which plot Concorde’s development, Concorde - Birth of the First Supersonic Airline (12 min, 28 sec) looks at the process of preproduction, Concorde Progress (18 min, 39 sec) looks at the testing process which went into the eventual final design. The film looks at the testing of differing model shapes in wind tunnels and various elements of the final plane. Concorde - The Great Collaboration (20 min, 19 sec) looks at how Britain and France worked together on the plane. Concorde Takes Shape (9 min, 20 sec) looks at how the pieces were created and brought together. Construction of the First Prototype (9 min, 56 sec) and the plane is finally being put together, but will she fly? The last two shorts are Concorde Début (18 min, 49 sec) shows the last work done to the prototype before it was rolled out for the dignitaries and Concorde Flies (12 min, 58 sec) is a record of its first test flight.

One of the things, apart from all the information overload about Concorde that I noticed was the great music. Being a commercial product I have no idea who wrote and performed it, but some of it reminded me of the great spy and science fiction shows of the sixties, dramatic and often brooding. It fits the films well, sometimes even making the films better than they deserved to be.

For the real anal Concorde fan there are extras in the form of even shorter films, though I suspect that there are few here that were intended to be seen by a general audience. Concorde Specimen Materials Heat Test 1964 (1 min, 08 sec), Rollout Ceremony for Concorde 001 - 1967 (3 min, 13 sec), Concorde Shackleton Parachute Trials 1967 (1 min, 21 sec) all look like test films which have been given a modern soundtrack.

Apart from the presentation and the obvious overdose of Concorde, what comes across in these films is a confident country who felt that nothing was outside of their imagination; I wonder what happened to them?

For a Concorde fan this is pig heaven, though I’m not sure just how a general audience will feel about a collection of historical films.


Charles Packer

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