Memorial Day weekend is a great time to get caught up on military movies.
There are the time-tested flicks like Battleground, The Dirty Dozen, Patton and The Best Years of Our Lives. Those films certainly cover the gamut from wartime to post-war adjustments.
Then there are a couple of exciting movies chronicling the first black military airmen. HBO, won all sorts of awards for their drama Tuskegee Airmen, paying close attention to detail and featured a heavyweight cast including, Laurence Fishburn, Courtney B. Vance, Andre Braugher and Malcolm-Jamal Warner.
But, what about the moviegoers who want a measure of the history in a big ole popcorn pic with fantastic aerial special effects?
Well, there is Red Tails, a fictional action-drama starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., Terrence Howard, Nate Parker and Tristan Wilds. This story is produced by George Lucas (Star Wars), which means that those sky-high fighter sequences are beautifully orchestrated.
The pair of men understand how well timed the release of this movie is.
“Yeah, with Memorial Day, it’s great to celebrate our country and celebrate the heroism of the people who fight and serve is just a huge blessing,” Nate Parker analyzes.
And they both changed from the experience.
“For me, I think through this I was forced to recognize the importance of our history and how it pertains to just being a patriot,” Parker says. “I don’t think it’s possible to love a country and not love the people who serve for the freedom of your country. The fact that there were able to make it through the discrimination back home and the war and what they came through, I think it’s important for every American to know and even getting excited about. What they did has a huge effect on our freedom right now.”
I think it was the entire experience that changed me,” Tristan Wilds stresses. “Being around these men – Nate and (fellow actor) David (Oyelowo), George (Lucas), (Director) Anthony (Hemingway) and having everyone surround me and just learning and picking different things from each person. The Tuskegee Airmen are mentors and people to look up to and learn from. Especially me being so young (22), I kind of leave with a sense of pride as an American and as an African-American. I guess I have a new swagger, a different gait.”
There is no getting around the fact that Red Tails received quite a bit of flack from critics for having more potential than it delivered in terms of historical accuracy, but audiences enjoyed the heck out of it despite the criticisms.
“We are a democracy,” Parker points out adding, “the people speak and we listen. That’s how I see it. In every screening that I saw people cheered and clapped and there were tears. To be able to watch it next to the actual airmen and to see tears in their eyes, to watch them during the flight sequences banking left, banking right, pulling up and then they look you in the eye and say, ‘My character was like you’ or ‘I knew the guy that was like your character,’ they were so engaged. If everyone in the world hated it, but the Tuskegee Airmen, if they responded, loved it and felt that we did them justice, then I’d be happy.”