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DVD Review

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Starring: Iwan Rheon, Milo Gibson, Marcin Dorocinski and Stefanie Martini
Distributor: Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 22 October 2018

Hurricane tells the story of the Polish fliers who found themselves fighting for the freedom of their own country in foreign skies. Seen through the eyes of Jan Zumbach, fighter ace and adventurer, it tells how the Poles, driven across Europe by the German war machine, finally made their last stand. Flying Hurricanes for the RAF over Britain, they became a key component in the legend of ‘The Few’. Up against the might of the Luftwaffe they hoped that, by saving Great Britain from Nazi invasion, they were keeping the dream of a free Poland alive. In the lethal melee above England in that summer of 1940, they fought with a tenacity and skill that earned them the admiration of the whole British nation. The dogfights against superior planes cost some of the men their lives. The constant strain of gladiatorial combat took away the sanity of others. But, as Zumbach discovers as the war stutters to a close, becoming the best in the RAF is a hollow victory for the Poles...

Hurricane had the opportunity to set the record straight; to right a terrible wrong in British history. It's relatively not widely known that the Battle of Britain may not have been won by the Allied forces if it weren't for a group of brave Polish and Czech pilots. Fighting miles from their homeland, these brave men were instrumental in keeping the skies clear of German fighters and bombers. One squadron in particular, No. 303, is claimed to have downed more German planes than any other squadron in the RAF. But, at the end of the war, they were betrayed and forgotten about. A footnote in our history books, when their contribution to The Battle of Britain should have been widely celebrated.

While enjoyable, the movie is a little disorienting. We don't really make much of a connection with the pilots. This means that it's hard to care or invest in them as individuals. Thankfully this isn't too much of an issue because just about everyone is familiar with The Battle of Britain and so we already understand that they are keeping the skies over England free from German invaders.

In addition it's not overly clear how many missions they flew and where they were fighting. While we see they are flying a lot, there's no overall exploration of what The Battle of Britain was all about (which may confuse anyone under the age of 30).

Nor is it really explained what the "Hurricane" of the title is all about. Again, not a problem to anyone over the age of 30, who grew up with grandparents who were alive in the war. The squadron were equipped with Hawker Hurricane fighter aircrafts, the real workhorse of the Battle of Britain, taking down 55 percent of enemy aircraft (the more famous Spitfires downing 42 percent). But this makes it sound like the movie revolves around the planes, when it's the Polish pilots that are the centre of this movie - the plane is pretty unimportant to the story.

There's also a rather ham-fisted attempt to show how the Polish are, at first, distrusted and despised by the British RAF pilots. It's kept going with the women of WAAF throwing themselves at the Polish pilots - a totally unnecessary and pointless plot device. Having the WAAF depicted as "easy" is also a little disrespectful.

The movie would have worked better if we were more invested in each of the pilots. Sadly most of them blur into one and sometimes it's not clear who has died and who has been injured, which is pretty sloppy. While we see, via flashbacks, why the Polish are so eager to get up into the skies and give the Luftwaffe what for. Many had witnessed first hand the Nazi's killing innocent civilians, including their loved ones, and so to them killing German aircrews wasn't a hard thing to do.

The CGI has come in for some criticism, but I have to admit that I didn't think it was bad at all - certainly not enough to take you out of the story. It's not as though it was a film with a huge budget and so I'm surprised that it looks as good as it does, all things considered.

One of the extras shows something interesting, that I failed to spot in the movie. There's a bicycle which has fake plane wings added to it. I'm assuming this was for a scene that was cut from the finished movie. The Poles, despite already being combat ready having flown many missions against the Germans with their own air force, were sent back to basics by the RAF, forced to ride bicycles in formation to prove their coordination.

While an enjoyable movie, that does a fairly good job of honouring the brave pilots, it was always going to be an impossible job to tackle everything that needed to be shown. It's also a national disgrace that instead of being honoured, they were banned from the London Victory Parade in 1946, and were either deported or forced to take menial jobs in England. Worse still was how the British population soon turned against them with the majority wanting them deported (as it was wrongly felt that they were taking our jobs).

Extras include Q&A with Director, David Blair (15 min - Strange editing results in Blair repeating himself); Behind the Scenes (11 min, 34 sec); Interview with Iwan Rheon (13 min, 03 sec); Interview with Milo Gibson (1 min, 57 sec); On Set with Rosie, Stefanie and Emily (2 min, 08 sec chat with actresses who play the WAAF women; and Trailer (1 min, 52 sec).

Overall not a bad film, but it felt a little bit of a missed opportunity to tell a compelling and moving tale based on true events.


Nick Smithson

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