Beaufighter Squadron WWII (1997)
|Year Of Production||1997|
|Running Time||88:54 (Case: 90)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
An armchair enthusiast compiling a list of the iconic fighting aircraft of World War II is bound to include Spitfires, Hurricanes, Zeros and the ME109. The Bristol Beaufighter is unlikely to pop up on any list. That's a great pity for, as this documentary shows, the humble Bristol Beaufighter (known as the Beau to its admirers) played a crucial role both in the European war and, more particularly, in the Pacific theatre.
Although the Beaufighter was a famed night fighter in Europe, this documentary features the stories of the 30th and 31st RAAF Squadrons operating out of the Northern Territory and over New Guinea. The squadrons were formed in 1942 in an attempt to stem the tide of the advancing of Japanese forces.
Under the command of Group Captain Brian "Blackjack" Walker, the Beaufighters came to play an important role in defeating the Japanese. Although they were rarely up to the task of tangling with a Zero in the air the Beaufighter was a particularly efficient and dangerous strafing aircraft. This proved extremely useful in damaging aircraft on the ground and ships at sea. As one old fighter says: " The worst place to be is in front of an angry Beaufighter; you're likely to get a dose of lead poisoning".In fact, legend has it that the Japanese dubbed the aircraft "Whispering Death" for their ability to arrive in silence and dispense maximum hurt.
Perhaps the most famous engagement for the Pacific Beaufighters was the Battle of the Bismark Sea in which, in co-operation with the US Air Force, the Beaufighters were able to provide a hail of gun fire allowing the bombers to do their work.
Although the DVD is a boon for military historians, particularly those interested in Australian military history, it is by no means a dry historical account of the squadrons. Instead the documentary is really an assembly of anecdotes from the men who flew these mighty planes. The Beaufighter was respected for its ruggedness and array of weapons and if the stories have a common theme, it is one of lives having been saved by the seemingly indestructible aircraft. Stories of landing with no tail, one wing or no wings abound and the flyers are animated in their remembrances. These are honest genuine blokes who don't glorify their own efforts but, rather, thank God that they flew an aircraft that was as tough as old boots.
Viewers who like their documentaries slick will perhaps find this a little humble. It had its origins in a 1997 documentary released by the 30 Squadron RAAF Association as Whispering Death: Beaufighter, Forgotten Warhorse. It is more a collection of stories than a complex narrative. However that is more than part of its charm. These men, like their planes, are tough and dependable and fortunately they also, like their planes, made it home to tell the tales.
Beaufighter Squadron is presented on DVD in a 4:3 full frame transfer. This is consistent with the original (1997) origin and aspect ratio of the film.
Although it is not stated it appears to have been shot on 16mm film. In fact, the aspect ratio means that it combines well with the wealth of news reel and combat footage which makes up the bulk of the documentary. The remainder of the film is really just interviews with the pilots and navigators.
In these scenes the quality varies according to the filming location. The flesh tones are reasonably accurate and the audio sync is perfect. The original footage is unrestored and presented in all its scratchy glory. The footage is both black and white and colour and some of it, particularly of strafing runs in New Guinea, is quite extraordinary to watch.
There are no subtitles.
Beaufighter Squadron carries a Dolby digital 2.0 soundtrack running at 224Kb/s. The soundtrack is consistent with the low budget film itself.
The interview dialogue can be clearly heard throughout.
There are a few period songs interspersed throughout the documentary, particularly a Harry James tune which opens the film in grand style as old footage of a Beau in colour shows a remarkably nimble plane in flight.
The commentary is a little unadorned but easy to understand. There are no real technical problems with the sound transfer.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are no extras.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This is an All Regions DVD.
Beaufighter Squadron is an essential purchase for anyone with more than a passing interest in military history, particularly the brave (sometimes mad) airmen who defended our country at its time of greatest need.
The DVD is no great shakes in sound or vision terms but will be perfectly adequate for all but the most demanding enthusiast.
|DVD||Pioneer BDP-LX70A Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output|
|Display||Pioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||JBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer|