Must-watch films, ahead of Battle of Britain anniversary

Tuesday, 8th September 2020, 5:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th September 2020, 5:30 pm

As the eightieth anniversary of the Battle of Britain approaches, these top films, set in that momentous period, can enlighten as well as entertain.

Jonny Persey, film producer and director at MetFilm School, said: “With the ability to watch almost any film we want to see these days online, or via streaming services, we thought we’d share what we consider the best Battle of Britain inspired films to watch while staying home.”

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He added: “It was a tricky job. Narrowing the selection down to 10 (plus one recent noteworthy film, Lancaster Skies by our graduate Callum Burn) was really difficult.

“Our top picks include British classics, box office hits, Hollywood musicals, non-traditional choices and… one from the Czech point of view.”

These are the recommended films;

1 Battle of BritainProbably the most famous one, released 1969, with a barrel load of famous names including Sir Laurence Olivier, Michael Caine, Christopher Plummer and a young Ian McShane.

2 Dark Blue WorldTold from the perspective of Czech pilots who fought for the RAF during the war. Foreign language film from 2001 starring Tara Fitzgerald and Charles Dance.

3 The First of the Few (Spitfire )Stars David Niven and Leslie Howard, who plays the inventor of the Spitfire. In 1943, just two days before the US release of the film, Howard died when his civilian aircraft was shot down by the Luftwaffe.

4 Hope and Glory Directed by John Boorman and based on his own experiences of the Blitz. It’s the story of Bill, a young boy living in London during World War II. Bill learns about sex, death, love, hypocrisy, and the faults of adults as he prowls the ruins of bombed houses. Released 1987.

5 Bedknobs and BroomsticksOne from 1971 for the whole family and not really about the Battle of Britain, but rather what happens to some evacuees when they leave London due to the Blitz. An apprentice witch, three children and a magician conman search for the missing component to a magic spell to be used in the defence of Britain in World War II. Stars Angela Lansbury, David Tomlinson and Roddy McDowell.

6 Mrs Miniver.Made in 1942, this won six Oscars including Best Picture, for its story of a family through the early war years.

7 The One That Got Away.True story about a German pilot shot down in 1940 who became the only Axis POW to escape during the war.

8 Reach For The Sky.A classic British war film about Douglas Bader who lost both his legs in a flying accident but went on to be a pilot in the Battle of Britain. He got shot down in 1941, then escaped from a POW camp before ending up in Colditz.

9 Their Finest.Not specifically about the Battle of Britain but set during it, the film sees Gemma Arterton join the Ministry of Information in order to create a morale boosting film about Dunkirk.

10 Tonight and Every Night.A 1945 musical film starring Rita Hayworth and set during the Battle of Britain and the Blitz. All about a theatre that refuses to miss a single performance.

11 Lancaster SkiesThis noteworthy 2019 feature film was made by MetFilm School graduate, Liam Burn.It tells the story of Douglas, a broken, solitary, Spitfire Ace who must overcome his past to lead a Lancaster bomber crew in the pivotal aerial war over Berlin, in 1944.

These films were chosen by a panel from MetFilm School, Ealing Studios.