A Few Words About A few words about...™ Red Tails & The Tuskegee Airmen -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Jun 2, 2012.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Red Tails (2012), the latest special effects offering from LucasFilm, and The Tuskegee Airmen, a 1995 HBO TV movie, cover basically the same fact-based story, but in very different ways.

    Robert Markowitz' Tuskegee Airman, begins at the beginning, with fledgling recruits going the Army Air Corps, as the first Negro soldiers with both the dream as well as the necessary moxie, to want to fly in a military controlled by white America. It covers their early training, the wash outs and survivors on a playing field that was not designed to be level. Discrimination seems almost constant and overbearing. It is at the point that they've begun to work in the war effort, but only as deemed to be proper for the group, considered by at least some in Washington to have neither the intelligence nor desire to succeed, that Red Tails opens. To my mind, it's a proper move, as their is a presumption that the tale of The Tuskegee Airman should at least be reasonably known.

    But at the point of merge, the are really two different films.

    One, TTA, seems to take things much more seriously, and in a far more adult fashion, while Red Tails, which shows off extensive (read: huge) digital special effects, plays more like a film for teens, with what seems like far too much whoopin' and hollerin' in the cockpits -- almost taking on the feeling of a professional basketball game.

    While technically, Red Tails is a far more accomplished work -- it's also 17 years newer -- my take is that The Tuskegee Airmen (with its cut ins of 16mm footage) is the better film.

    If you really want to learn the story of these brave men (brave from a myriad of different aspects), my go to would be The Tuskegee Airman.

    Interesting, Cuba Gooding, Jr., who has a smaller role in TTA, receives first billing in RT.

    TTA was shot on 35mm for 4:3 TV broadcast in pre-HD days, but on the HBO Blu-ray is framed at 1.78 and is properly 1080p. Red Tails was shot with various Canon DSLRs, as well as a Sony F35 or three, and taken to a 2k DI for both 35mm scope prints, as well as D-Cinema.

    Red Tails is an interesting film, but, at least to me, seems written and created for a less thoughtful. Those with an interest in digital effects should absolutely grab a copy, study it and try to figure out what's real and what's reel.

    The Tuskegee Airman is Recommended.

    RAH
     
  2. theonemacduff

    theonemacduff Second Unit

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    And The Tuskegee Airmen BR is a real bargain; about $11 + shipping last time I looked. And Laurence Fishburn too. What more could you ask for?
     
  3. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer

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    Normally, I like to watch World War 2 movies and, at first, this one was no exception; however, after watching the trailers for the film, I passed on a theatrical viewing. The film looked too much like a fantasy and too little like a film about real people fighting a nasty war. The aerial scenes that were included in the trailers looked spectacular, but it was obvious, even then, that almost all the aerial footage was CGI. The planes didn't quite look real and the turning radius of the planes looked too tight and fake.
     
  4. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    The older film is more historically accurate than Red Tails.







    Crawdaddy
     
  5. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    The two films were made toward very different purposes. HBO made The Tuskegee Airman as a docudrama, while Lucasfilm made Red Tails as the sort of entertainment Hollywood would have made from the 1950's up until Vietnam like Sands of Iwo Jima and Midway, had they not balked at a black cast. The divergent purposes obviously result in divergent final products.
     
  6. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Nobody is arguing that point, but I still think The Tuskegee Airman is a better film. That scene in Red Tails in which they're yelling "we fight" sounds like a scene that should have been taken from a movie made about a football team winning the Super Bowl. Too much of today's cliches for me.
     
  7. DavidJ

    DavidJ Producer
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    I think that is a good point Adam and I had not considered it from that perspective.
     
  8. Douglas Monce

    Douglas Monce Producer

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    To put it in perspective, a quote from an actual Tuskegee airman, with whom I saw a screening of Red Tails. "Is it accurate? Sometimes, but we finally got the John Wayne treatment." Followed by a big grin.
    Doug
     
  9. lukejosephchung

    lukejosephchung Screenwriter

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    In a nutshell, the HBO docudrama is the way to go for historical accuracy, while Red Tails is strictly for entertainment purposes...which I'm perfectly fine with!!!
     
  10. paidgeek

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    We watched Red Tails last night.
    I agree that it is based loosely on the real guys, but it just might make people curious to learn more about what they really accomplished.
    That said, I enjoyed the movie and I really liked the 'look' that was created. The presentation has a warmth and quality from scene to scene that prompted me to comment to my wife a couple of times "what a gorgeous shot".
    I hope most consumers get a chance to see this on Blu-ray and use streaming for news clips.
     
  11. David_B_K

    David_B_K Advanced Member

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    I had heard about the men known as "the Tuskegee Airmen" for years. I never really delved into their story until I saw an episode of the show Birds of a Feather on the Discovery Wings Channel (which has since morphed into the Military Channel). Birds of a Feather was a series that covered famous groups of pilots thoughout air-war history, and included famous outfits like Boyington's Black Sheep, The Dam Busters, and The Tuskegee Airmen, among others.
    The episode on the Tuskegee Airmen was magnificent. It included stock period footage and interviews with some of the better-known surviving pilots. It made one's heart swell with pride and admiration of their accomplishments in the face of naked racism. The way they told their own stories with no bitterness made them seem all the more heroic.
    I then checked out the HBO drama The Tuskegee Airmen. I thought it was OK, but felt that its limited budget severely hampered the film, as there simply were not enough surviving vintage airplanes to effectively create WW2 air battles. I'm glad they made it so that more people would be exposed to the story; but I found the documentary far more inspiring.
    When I heard there was going to be a movie called Red Tails, it sounded right up my alley. However, I found the trailers to be laughable. The CGI looked like the flight models were based on Star Wars . The "we fight!" scene that Crawdaddy referred to was cringe inducing. So, I passed on it. However, I am warming to the idea that the movie is made in the same style as war movies of the past, like Fighter Squadron, The Flying Tigers, et al. No, it is not the "real story"; but it is a work of fiction informed by the reality of history, which is a valid way to make a movie, IMO. When the price comes down, I'll get the Blu-ray.
    BTW, the documentary on the Wings channel included some footage of the Airmen that looked like Hollywood re-enactment footage. Was there ever a low-budget version of the story made back in the 40's or 50's that targeted black audiences?
     
  12. Douglas Monce

    Douglas Monce Producer

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    Give it a shot in the spirit of a old fashioned WW2 movie. I think you might enjoy it.
    Doug
     

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