In celebration of the centenary of the Royal Air Force (RAF), co-directors David Fairhead and Ant Palmer deliver this stylish homage to the eponymous fighter jet famed for its role in the Second World War. Narrated by Charles Dance, Spitfire is an insightful documentary that, while unlikely to capture the wider public’s imagination, will command the reverent attention of the patriotic at heart and the avid plane enthusiast alike.
For those unfamiliar with the aircraft’s legend, watching the film will prove a didactic, entertaining and emotive experience, delivering touching interviews with surviving combat veterans, rare archive footage and stunning aerial photography and cinematography. In spite of its brave effort to provide a crash course in all things Spitfire, while also taking care to appease its niche, learned target audience, the feature can occasionally struggle to negotiate a middle ground. This battle for a balanced approach can become lopsided, leaving the narrative a little dry when intricacies are discussed.
Revered for its role in the Battle of Britain – the tense, make-or-break air campaign launched by the German Luftwaffe against the RAF – the Spitfire played an essential, defining role in shaping the modern world. A role the British, who generally lay great store on their history, are immeasurably proud of. But, as with the reveries of a glorious past, the film hardly touches on the macabre fallout that followed carnage. This may well be explained by a surprising PG certification, forewarning a gentle approach to a violent topic.
Chris Roe provides a stirring score, aptly dramatic and moving when required. Together with strong narration, qualitative gold in interview form and a fresh take on the plane’s place in Britain, this feature has all the requisite parts to construct a soaring documentary. Instead, the parts feel clunkily assembled at times, and the ride isn’t as smooth as it could be. But Spitfire provides another nostalgic hit for a country that has been exponentially upping its dosage in recent times.
Photo: John M Dibbs
Spitfire is released in select cinemas on 20th July 2018.
Watch the trailer for Spitfire here: