During the Second World War, a special project is begun by the US Army Air Corps to integrate African-American pilots into the Fighter Pilot Program. Known as the “Tuskegee Airman” for the name of the airbase at which they were trained, these men were forced to constantly endure harassment, prejudice, and much behind the scenes politics until at last they were able to prove themselves in combat.
Director: Robert Markowitz
Writer: Paris Qualles (teleplay), Trey Ellis (teleplay), Ron Hutchinson (teleplay), Robert Williams (story), T.S. Cook (story)
Stars: Laurence Fishburne, Allen Payne, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Courtney B. Vance
Runtime: 106 min; Rated: PG-13; Genre: Drama, History, War; Released: 26 Aug 1995
We watched this movie Sunday night. I know it’s been out forever, and we’d intended to watch it back when released, but just never did. It was on Amazon Prime, so I pulled it up.
The Tuskegee Airmen tells that story of the first black American fighter pilots. The movie is packed with everything you would expect from a World War Two movie about black pilots: racism, failure, triumph, death, fear, courage, joy, grief and a fair amount of aerial combat. Many movies lean too far to one side or the other of the joy/depression spectrum. The Tuskegee Airmen does a great job of bringing realistic balance to real-life experience. The characters experiences are neither completely wonderful nor completely awful. Bad experiences are tempered by good and vice-versa.
If you watch this movie with no preconceived notions about the content and no agenda, you will likely come away with a new appreciation for the struggles faced by those who, through design or by accident, become the first to break through an established barrier. Even if you take away the actual premise of the movie and forget that it is about black or white and forget that it is a war movie, it still stands strong on the quality of the acting and the great story telling. We’ve all succeeded and we’ve all failed and, like it or not, you share that with every person on this planet regardless of their skin color, religion, sex or nationality. It is very easy to put yourself in the place of any character in this movie because they are all so nakedly human, and that’s what makes it great to watch.
And just a reminder, this film is based on a true story and that always adds a little something to a movie.