Dark Blue World
Facts and Figures
Run time: 112 mins
In Theaters: Thursday 17th May 2001
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics
Production compaines: Česká televize, Portobello Pictures, Helkon Media AG
Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 62%
Fresh: 36 Rotten: 22
IMDB: 7.3 / 10
Dark Blue World Review
The men involved are air force members from the Czech Republic who've escaped Nazi occupation of their homeland and now fight for the Allied forces in the British patrol. Their leader, Franta Slama (Ondrej Vetchý), amiably directs his troops in a casual, European manner. You sense he'd much rather be their friend than superior, and his closest relationship forms with up-and-coming pilot Karel (Krystof Hádek). Their friendship, unfortunately, isn't long for this world.
Difficulties arise over a woman (Tara Fitzgerald). Susan, to be specific. A British widow who lost her husband to the battlefields, Susan tends to young Karel when the spirited fighter crash-lands near her farm following a dogfight. Smitten, Karel introduces Susan to his best friend and mentor, Franta. The two promptly fall in love, all under Karel's less-than-watchful guard. Franta's betrayal comes as a shock, not just to Karel, but to us, as well. We've grown accustomed to their loyalty, and can feel the (figurative) slap in the face Franta's "infidelity" delivers.
It helps that director Jan Sverák (Kolya) casts strong actors. Using vivid matte paintings, blue screens and bright CGI effects, Sverak creates a gorgeous period romance that's visually breathtaking while being equally compelling in its storytelling methods. Characters develop gradually, even when plot elements attempt to speed up their growth and send them spiraling down dark corridors. And each decision results in consequences, not only on a personal level but also on a national stage.
In a perfect world, one in which Michael Bay's bloated, maudlin Pearl Harbor didn't exist, Dark Blue World might have garnered more recognition as a gripping, heart-wrenching love triangle inadvertently set against the backdrop of WWII. The main difference between the two (and there are several others) is that Sverak's majestic battle scenes never eclipse his intricate, dramatic study in honor and friendship between multi-dimensional characters. Where Bay's vapid leads killed time between CGI explosions, Sverak's actors confront timeless dilemmas that - in this case - just happen to take place during a global conflict.