Today: February 21, 2024

The Dam Busters

The Dam Busters is director Michael Anderson’s (Logan’s Run, Around The World In Eighty Days) tour de force re-telling of the legendary World War II Dam Busters bombing raid. 

Supplying the water for Germany’s steel-making industries, the supposedly impenetrable Ruhr dams were finally breached thanks to a combination of ingenuity, skill, and sheer guts. Flying across occupied Europe at tree-top height, nineteen planes in the newly formed 617 Squadron, braved anti-aircraft fire, enemy fighters, and mountainous terrain to drop their extraordinary ‘bouncing bombs’ on their targets. Eight planes were lost and 53 men died in the attack.

As would be expected, Anderson mythologises some elements of the true story. And even actual footage of the bouncing bomb tests used in the film have been altered to reflect the fact that the technology was still top secret when the film was released.

As a piece of story-telling, Dam Busters seems to lack the warmth and humour that’s such a touch-stone of British war films like Ice Cold In Alex or The Colditz Story. However, the scene where the squad make their first bomb run across the flack-heavy waters of the Möhne is a superb piece of cinema. Star Wars fans will notice striking similarities here in the iconic trench scene – not surprising when you consider that A New Hope’s cinematographer, Gilbert Taylor, also worked on Dam Busters. 

This brand new 4K release features a whole disc of extras, including interviews with dam busters and actual un-doctored footage of the bouncing bomb trials. The Collector’s Edition adds a host of additional goodies including the film in 1:37 and1:75 aspect ratios, a set of art cards, a Lancaster bomber poster, a 64-page booklet and a rare aerial photo of the Mohne Dam signed by surviving members of 617 squadron. 

StudioCanal have timed the release of this restoration to mark the 75th Anniversary of the raid, and it makes a fitting tribute to all those who lost their lives taking on the might of the Nazi war machine. 

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email: writerpaula@icloud.com

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