The Lion Has Wings

Documentary / War

IMDb Rating 5.6 10 392


Downloaded times
December 28, 2020



Flora Robson as Countess Estell
June Duprez as Vera Claythorne
Merle Oberon as Anne Boleyn - The Second Wife
720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
698.71 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
76 min
P/S N/A / N/A
1.27 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
76 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by writers_reign 6 / 10 / 10

Mane Attraction

Although clearly listed on the credits as one of three co-directors you have to click 'more' on the IMDb credits to find the name of Michael Powell. Surprisingly he had turned out some twenty-some films already and this was hot on the heels of The Spy In Black. Produced in 1939 and released two months after War broke out this is, inevitably, a bit of a flag-waver and does indeed at one point take a proper gander at goose-stepping Nazis. Clearly Ralph Richardson and Merle Oberon were there just for their marquee value given that the film is virtually all documentary. As the first British film completed and released in wartime it will always have a curiosity value and it does capture a Utopian England that the Blairites have all but destroyed. Nostalgia buffs will have a field day.

Reviewed by JamesHitchcock 6 / 10 / 10

Of Historic Interest Only

Made in the autumn of 1939, "The Lion Has Wings" was the first British propaganda film made after the outbreak of the Second World War. It was made in a documentary rather than a narrative style, and consists of three "chapters" with a linking story revolving around a senior RAF officer and his family. It opens with a section comparing the relaxed- easygoing lifestyle of the British people with the goose-stepping militarism of Nazi Germany, which gives the impression that the citizens of the Third Reich spent their entire lives taking part in one military parade or Nuremberg Rally after another. The second chapter recreates an actual bombing raid on German warships in the Kiel Canal and the third shows how an attack by Luftwaffe bombers is repelled by the RAF. There are also scenes inserted from an earlier film, "Fire Over England", about the defeat of the Spanish Armada. The implication, of course, is that the Nazis will be defeated, just as the Spaniards were. Propaganda documentaries like this one may be of historic interest in the light they shed on social attitudes at the time. From a modern perspective we can see that some of the preoccupations of democracies in the thirties were not as different from those of the dictatorships as people liked to believe at the time. Some of the scenes in the film's opening section- idyllic countryside, healthy young men exercising or taking part in sport, happy children playing outside new social housing complexes provided by a benevolent government- would not have seemed out of place in a German propaganda film. Although presumably the Germans would have had to find local equivalents for such things as oasthouses and rugby matches, and it is difficult to imagine Hitler playing "Neath the Spreading Chestnut Tree" as King George VI does here. Perhaps what most strikes a modern audience about the film is its tone of smug patriotic confidence, a confidence that was to be sorely tested in the next few months after it was made. The assumption that the British Army was at least the equal of the Wehrmacht was one that did not hold up well during the disasters of 1940. Rather surprisingly, the film makes absolutely no reference to our French allies. Perhaps that is just as well. If it had done so, it would no doubt have reassured viewers that the French Army was an invincible war machine and the Maginot Line an impregnable fortification. The assurance that the RAF, unlike the Nazis, would only bomb military, not civilian, targets must have looked very hollow several years on, especially after the destruction of cities like Dresden. One thing the film did get right was the importance of air power in the coming war, and in this context at least its assurances were to be proved correct when the RAF did indeed defeat the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain, although preventing night-time bombing raids was to prove more difficult than is shown here. The documentary scenes of the war in the air, however, are full of errors, largely because these were put together using newsreel footage and at this stage of the war no such footage existed of German military equipment. Thus a German "bomber" is actually a civilian airliner, and the image has been reversed, which means that its tailfin bears an anti-clockwise swastika, a symbol never used by the Nazis, who always used the clockwise version. Many of the British aircraft shown are biplane fighters, which were already obsolete by 1939. If you look carefully you will notice that one of the "German" ships bombed by the RAF is actually flying the White Ensign! My DVD of the film was one given away in a newspaper promotion as part of a series of "Great British War Films". The series did indeed include some great films, such as "Went the Day Well?", "The Dam Busters", "Forty-Ninth Parallel" and "Ice Cold in Alex", but I cannot really see that "The Lion Has Wings" merits inclusion in such distinguished company. Propaganda documentaries, especially when seen seventy years after the events they describe, are rarely as entertaining as fictional narratives. This film may have played its part in keeping up morale during the "Phoney War", but today it is of interest to historians only. 5/10

Reviewed by Cinema_Fan 6 / 10 / 10

The Shape of Things To Come:

War movies, and in particular, World War II propaganda war movies do not come as blatant as this piece of English cinema. Produced by London Films with Hungarian born Alexander Korda (1893 - 1956), part director, part producer and this being his bit for the British war effort shows the world both at peace and on the verge of Nazi domination. The Lion Has Wings was to become one of the most influential and pivotal war movies to date, if one can call it "war movie". This style, this technique is more akin to the documentary and the stiff upper-lip newsreels, an extended newsreel so to speak here, seen for so long in the English cinemas around this time. This is exactly the point of this film. To show the people of Britain, who, on the verge of their second great war, that England, its principles, its freedoms and its history, when compared and conjoined with news footage of the German armies' and the oppressive might of Hitler and his black plague slowly spreading across Europe during the nineteen thirties, was the fairer, peaceful and more tolerant nation. Seeing the English perceptive can, for a short while, also be seen as a little problematic, it in itself can seem a little too narcissist, too biased and while giving the impression of a them and us scenario, to the "other side" just may be seen as too wonderful and too modest for its own good. One only has to listen to the narrative spoken here, and it really is un-reassuring, in parts, shown are the parallels of the German war machine being nurtured during peace time in the 1930's and the film footage of the English factories hard at work in readdressing this unbalance via the making of vast amounts of bullets, bombs and long range guns. We make these weapons of our own free will to justify this strategy is because it is "they" who are armed for the "wrong reasons". Our cause is righteous and just. Starring Ralph Richardson (1902 - 1983) as the Royal Air Force Commander willing and ready to do his duty and nurse Merle Oberon (1911 - 1979) as his sweetheart, and both having worked with Alexander Korda on numerous occasions before, play their parts eloquently, very eloquently, the stiff-upper-lip of the English nation stands on these two enduring shoulders. Stout and proud are these two peacetime winged angels who tread on pastures new, staged and rehearsed to the point of perfection and astonishment. This three directional film by Adrian Brunel, Brian Desmond Hurst and Michael Powell, each had their parts to play. The twelve-day shoot and two weeks of putting this work together made it impossible for one director alone. This was wartime propaganda at its zenith, the shape of things to come. Like the pulling together of these three directors, we also see the country, of all classes, pulling together to defend and defeat this plague. With its resources of weapons and modern technology fighting to withhold the might of Hitler with "good Chaps" and the brave women of England. This delivery of patronage as Merle Oberon is giving her monologue on the plight of the women and their husbands and sons of England, and don't forget, written by men, is shot up tight to her face, her spirit, her resolve and experiences shine through as the brave consciousness of a well prepared, but, only too daunting people. This is The Lion Has Wings coming into its own, pure undiluted propaganda. The Ministry of Information would be proud; this is an extremely well calculated publicity stunt for the British Colonies', her allies, her foes and beyond. As in yesterday's methods, and looking at today's methods too, we are not too far removed from how propaganda exploits it favourite medium: from the large screen of yesteryear to the small screen in the corner of our living rooms today. The medium of cinema was a powerful tool, during The Great War of 1914 to 1918 cinemas were closed down and propaganda took other routes, but, during the 1930's and beyond and before the advent of television, the medium of cinema was to reach out to the minds of its peoples. Soon after the release of The Lion Has Wings there were other, more successful, films of this ilk, jumping on the band-wagon with differing styles and techniques, films such as The Life and Death Of Colonel Blimp (1943), 49th Parallel (1941) and the stunning Ealing Studios great Went the Day Well (1942) were to play their part for freedoms and morality. On the other hand, too, there are just as great propaganda films from the dark side of Nationalism: Joseph Goebbels's Nazi Cinema; With soundtracks of note such as Titanic (1943), S.A.-Mann Brand (1933) and also from 1933 Hitlerjunge Quex. Some to enlighten, some to dictate, some to frighten, but all to propel a message of fervour in some shape and form and depending on which side of the fence you may sit, the rest are just historical films of propaganda from "the other side". The effect of The Lion Has Wings on the British war machine was slight, though crude but effective propaganda cinema, spliced together to form both newsreel and acting, it set the standard. With World War 2 gone, the Cold War had too come then disbanded, and then during the eighties and nineties, we had the demise of the Eastern Bloc and the division of Yugoslavia. All this had great consequence that shaped the European Union once more, these were the events and their opportunities for the propaganda machine to keep itself in perpetual motion, and having left its mark for all to see. Finally, and rightly so, leaving the last word to the now defunct Belgrade underground radio station RADIO B92, with its passing epitaph: "Trust no one - not even us - but keep the faith…"

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