Sunday, June 16, 2019
The Lion Has Wings
Directed by Adrian Brunel, Brian Desmond Hurst, Alexander Korda, and Michael Powell and written by Hurst and E.V.H. Emmett from a story by Ian Dalrympe, The Lion Has Wings is a British documentary-propaganda film made just after the start of World War II. It’s a film that showcases what Britain has to do in light of the recent events as they had to prepare for war. Starring Merle Oberon, Ralph Richardson, June Duprez and narration by E.V.H. Emmett. The Lion Has Wings is a compelling and engaging film from producer Alexander Korda.
Released two months after the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany that officially started World War II, the film is a call to arms to remind Britons on what is at stake for the war. It’s a film that is part-drama and part-documentary under the supervision of producer Alexander Korda as is one of four directors in this project that is ensure the British public about the life they were having just after the Great Depression and before the war and why they must fight to keep all of those things despite the claims in the narration that poverty and unemployment is being eradicated. Through the works of Korda, Adrian Brunel, Brian Desmond Hurst, and Michael Powell, the direction is largely straightforward in the way it dramatizes certain events and ideas of what officers and others go through with Ralph Richardson playing the role of a top officer and Merle Oberon as his wife.
Much of the dramatic elements of the film with this story of the officer, his wife, and many others including a dramatic re-creation of an early aerial battle have the directors use simple compositions of close-ups and medium shots to play into this idea of realism that is a little far-fetched in some spots of the film. Notably in some of the documentary footage as it play into how Britain could defeat the Germans and such even though some of the strategy they use including a dramatic recreation of an attempted invasion by the Spanish armada from the past was able to be thwarted by villagers from a scene from the film Fire Over England by William K. Howard and produced by Korda. The usage of that film as well as footage from Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will does play into this idea of what Britain is trying to show itself against the Germans in their militaristic persona. Even as the film showcases what Britain must do and make claims that they have the best weapons in the world though they were ready for the Germans despite what they would face. Overall, Korda crafts an entertaining film that helps Britons get ready for war.
Cinematographers Osmond Borradaile, Bernard Browne, and Harry Stradling Sr. do excellent work with the film’s black-and-white photography as well as maintain that blur of dramatization and reality into the footage they capture including scenes of the Royal Air Force in the air. Editors Henry Cornelius, Charles Frend, Hugh Stewart, and Derek N. Twist do terrific work with the editing with its stylish usage of transition wipes as well as gathering all sorts of stock footage and such to play into the dangers the British forces might deal with. Art director Vincent Korda does fantastic work with the look of the home of one of the officers as well as a base where they watch over an attempted bombing invasion from the Germans. The sound work of John W. Mitchell and A.W. Watkins is superb for its sound effects as well as how engines sound and the sounds of factories. The film’s music by Richard Addinsell is brilliant for its musical score as it play into the beauty of Britain with some heavy themes that play into the serious elements of the film.
The film’s wonderful cast feature some notable small roles from Flora Robson as Queen Elizabeth I from Fire Over England and June Duprez as a young woman who is a friend of the officer’s wife. Ralph Richardson and Merle Oberon are amazing in their respective roles as Wing Commander Richardson and Mrs. Richardson with the former being a RAF officer trying to strategize things with the latter being the wife at home who would also be a nurse.
The Lion Has Wings is a marvelous film from producer Alexander Korda as well as co-directors Adrian Brunel, Brian Desmond Hurst, and Michael Powell. While it is a film of its time and is a propaganda film for Britain in the early days of World War II. It is still a fascinating piece of history that explores what the British government and film industry wanted to show to its people and what is at stake despite the lack of realism they would endure later on in the war. In the end, The Lion Has Wings is a remarkable film from producer Alexander Korda.
© thevoid99 2019