Silent Wings The American Glider Pilots of WWII is beyond superb. The only question is who will be most interested in this WWII documentary: history or flying fans. Director Robert Child did not leave out a lot of historical details or American glider footage to create this fascinating story.
To add to the quality of this DVD, the film is shown in 16 X 9 and is in Dolby Surround so you sometimes get the sound of bullets around you or the sound of being in a glider.
One of the many things that stands out is how balanced Silent Wings is. I have rarely seen WWII documentary where the German side of the story is also told and told well. The subtitle here may be The American Glider Pilots of WWII but the program also covers the Luftwaffe's side of the story though it proved to be short lived.
Unfortunately, the history of the British glider force really gets short shrift here. All you get to know is they had one.
The film covers the early use of gliders by Germany in 1927, a use caused by the Treaty of Versailles that limited the number of powered aircraft Germany could have, to the use of these silent planes in D-Day and beyond.
It is interesting that the use of gliders and paratroopers to capture Crete convinced the Germans this was not the way to go and showed the Allies this was the way to mount an invasion.
Even the hard core war buff will learn a few things in this documentary such as how Patton's 82nd Airborne troops were shot down by friendly fire on their way to Sicily or that the experience in Sicily almost killed the glider program.
What makes any DVD such as this one interesting is the testimony of soldiers who were there. Silent Wings features quite a few such interviews. One of the best interviews is of course with Jerry Devlin who wrote the Silent Wings book.
Throughout Silent Wings - The American Glider Pilots of WWII there are also interviews with war correspondents Andy Rooney and Walter Cronkite. Both really bring an important dimension to this war history film. Though I am not a fan of Rooney, his modesty and honesty here are to be mentioned.
The one weak point aside from the lack of information on the British glider forces is narrator Hal Holbrook. He really gets carried away sometimes and tries to impersonate some of the characters he quotes and does it pretty badly. This is but a minor flaw and it doesn't happen too often.
Special features include a visit of the Silent Wings Museum in Lubbock, Texas. It is very well done.
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