Oscar Bait – Wings

List Item: Watch all Best Picture Winners (to date)
Progress: 79/88Title: Wings
Director: William A. Wellman
Year: 1927
Country: USA

Wings was the first film to win a Best Picture (or equivalent) at the Oscars. In the ceremony two such awards were given out; the other going to Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. 

Set in 1917, Wings is centred around three Americans from the same town who go to war. Two of them (Jack and David) go to fight as pilots whilst Mary follows the man she loves and takes on the role as an ambulance driver.

Thing is, that is not what makes Wings a really interesting film to watch. In fact, it is one of those films that should really be on the 1001 list, and here is why.

Firstly, the battle sequences are astonishing. Considering the fact that this is 1927 and that pretty much all of the fights were done using actual planes and pilots it was a joy to watch the acrobatics. I mean, I have seen quite a few battle sequences in silent movies (some of the best were in Intolerance), but these aerial battles were another thing.

And then, there is the scene from the picture that I chose to represent this film. Wings depicts two men kissing. Granted it is a kiss of friendship as a way to deal with one of them dying, but it is far more loving and tender than any of the other ‘romantic’ scenes. It was beautifully done and there is no doubt that it is all completely platonic – or at least it is love but not in that way.

This film was ground-breaking and whilst a lot of the battle scenes run a bit too long it is remarkably honest and arresting for a silent film.

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