Monday, January 23, 2012

Movie Monday: Red Tails

Red Tails is the story of "a crew of African American pilots in the Tuskegee training program, having faced segregation while kept mostly on the ground during World War II, are called into duty under the guidance of Col. A.J. Bullard."

I've never seen the made-for-TV movie Tuskegee Airmen, but I'm told it's good. Much better, in fact, than the just-released Red Tails, which I saw this past weekend. 

It's an important story. Like the tag line for Tuskegee Airmen says, they fought two wars. Serving their country in World War II, these men fought the same fights as their counterparts - struggling to keep their spirits up while separated from family in a foreign land, and facing their own mortality while losing friends. 

At the same time, these men also had to fight the discrimination that was still an everyday part of life, even while fighting for their country. Can you imagine - they were literally dying to defend freedom that some people didn't even think they deserved.

For that reason alone, the movie is worth seeing. Unfortunately, the very thing that makes it an important movie to see is also that thing that makes it difficult to enjoy. There is so much going on - discrimination at the Officers Club, people dying, falling in love, alcoholism, fighting for fair treatment from their own army... 

All inside two hours and five minutes.  

On the one hand, I would have liked the story to focus more on the segregation, and the challenges it presented. But it would be unfair to ignore everything else, and pretend that they didn't have to deal with anything else. They were still in danger and separated from their families. Their friends were still dying. 

So how do you balance the story? Maybe you don't. Maybe it's too much for one movie, just like it was more than any man should have to manage.  
Honestly, it wasn't a great movie. I won't buy it on DVD; but if it was on TV, I'd watch. Why? It's an important story, and one worth hearing. 

If you need more motivation, there's also him.

Nate Parker

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