April 11, 2021

Red Tails (2012) – review of the new film from executive director George Lucas

Red Tails (2012)
Lucas Films’ epic portrayal of the struggle for African American pilots during WWII.

Inspired by the true story of the Tuskegee Airmen who fought during the Second World War, Red Tails follows a group of African American pilots who attempt to overcome racial prejudice in order to fight against tyranny for their country. Executive producer, and acclaimed filmmaker, George Lucas commented, “I thought their story would make a great film. An inspirational one that shows the incredible things these men went through to patriotically serve with [valour] and help the world battle back the evils of fascism. It is an amazing story, and I wanted to memorialize it.”

The story begins in Italy in 1944, where the 332nd Fighter Group (known as the Tuskegee Airmen) were given token jobs to perform after being given the opportunity to fight in the war. Their planes were ragged, and their missions were limited to a radius far behind the front line, because they were seen as inferior pilots. However, once the group earned a notorious reputation for being extremely talented and daring pilots, they were given extra chances to prove themselves in more important situations, such as guarding bomber planes on their way to key cities.

Directed by Anthony Hemingway and starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard and David Oyelowo, Red Tails features a predominantly black cast, made up of ranging talents, who come to embody these historical figures with professional dignity. The makers behind the film, including George Lucas, met regularly with surviving members of the 332nd squadron, in order to make a compelling and authentic film, and the results of this in-depth research is clear to see in the film which is touching and affecting.

While the story carries with it tremendous historical importance, the makers were keen to avoid it being seen as a “civil rights movie”. This is an action/adventure film at its heart, focusing on the bravery and courage of these extraordinary men, whose ambition and heart earned themselves a celebrated place within the war effort. Furthermore, the visual representation of the story is befitting to the story, with some outstanding dog fights between planes, which only Lucas has the ability to capture with such majesty.

A film that embodies the magic of cinema, the visual capabilities of a great artist, and the inspirational story of a group of heroes. Go see it.

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