To try and document and capture everything that happened during World War II would be nigh on impossible. There were so many different battles, skirmishes and engagements on air, land and sea, taking place all over the world, that it’s simply too much to process. Therefore, we tend to focus on certain key dates, battles or events. Often, a good story is more compelling than its actual impact. This month marks the 75th anniversary of Operation Chastise, the inspiration for The Dam Busters.
At the beginning of World War II, the Edersee, Möhne and Sorpe dams in the Ruhr valley were integral to Germany’s heavy industry and agriculture. Due to precautions taken by the Nazis, they were impossible to damage with normal bombs. Working for the Ministry of Aircraft Production, Barnes Wallis (Michael Redgrave) devises a ‘bouncing bomb’ which would be able to penetrate their defences. Wing Commander Guy Gibson (Richard Todd) is tasked with leading a squadron of Lancaster Bombers to carry out the job. However, time is against both men.
The Dam Busters remains a classic British war film about invention, daring and sacrifice. The new restoration looks fantastic. Despite the continuing debate about the real impact the raids, it certainly struck a huge psychological blow for the British. A point which shines through Michael Anderson’s film. As does the heroism of those pilots from around the world who risked and gave their lives for a small victory. The Dam Busters retains its status of being a great war epic.
The Dam Busters is released on DVD, Blu-ray, EST and Collector’s Edition by Studiocanal’s Vintage Classics on June 4th.