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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Black pilots fight for equality, America in WWII action movie

By Kelli Henderson/entertainment editor

Red Tails shows the good, the bad and the ugly sides of World War II fighter pilots and aerial combat.

The film begins with an aerial combat scene between the Germans and Americans in 1944 Italy. The 302nd fighter unit, or Tuskegee Airmen, of the United States Air Force are cast away on their own air base waiting for orders from their stateside colonel (Terrence Howard).

Maj. Emanuelle Stance (Cuba Gooding Jr.) mans the team until orders are received from the colonel about the team’s first big mission. Nate Parker, David Oyelowo, Ne-Yo, Elijah Kelley, Tristan Wilds and Michael B. Jordan portray 19-20-year-old black pilots fighting to get into the Nazi-killing action.

Battling a nameless Nazi pilot who resembles a cockroach that refuses to die, the team must work together to prove everyone wrong.

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first black military pilots to fight in World War II. Although there were other black groups, the Tuskegee group was the only operational unit. Because of the time and their race, military officials expected the group to just dwindle away. The group faced discrimination in and out of the military but earned great respect for flying with precision and talent.

The most intriguing parts of Red Tails are the aerial fight scenes. The planes weaving in and out of each other is edge-of-your-seat material. The dogfights seem more of a dance than a brawl. Some of that, of course, is Hollywood, but most are re-enactments of what fighter pilots do best. Their flying and fighting techniques are more of an art and gift than a job or training.

What also helps the fight scenes is having George Lucas, Star Wars creator, as the movie’s executive producer. In an interview with Jon Stewart, Lucas said he wanted to make an inspirational film for teenage boys.

“I wanted to show that they have heroes. They have American heroes. They have patriots that helped make this country what it is today,” Lucas said. “It was designed to be filmed during the war. It’s very patriotic, very jingoistic, very old-fashioned [and] corny.”

The movie has done just that. It’s shown that a group of young adults can come together and fight for something bigger than them and grow and learn through the process.

Lucas said he had tried to write Red Tails for 23 years and after having finally written it and financed it himself, the film companies shot it down.

“[They said] ‘We don’t know how to market a movie like this.’ It’s because it’s an all-black movie,” he said. “There are no major white roles in it at all. It’s one of the first all-black action pictures ever made.”

Red Tails shows audiences the passion these men had for flying and for saving their country. It shows that not every pilot came out on top. There were tons of losses, some of those being a bunkmate or best friend.

And this film shows that things can go wrong. It is war, and the men aren’t playing Battleship on a pegboard. Men’s lives were at stake, and one wrong move or a too risky action could get someone killed.

The aerial fight scenes alone make this movie, but knowing there is history to this story being played out 68 years later gives the movie a whole new meaning.

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