Heroism is something rarely seen in people these days. To sacrifice one’s safety for a greater good is an incredible sacrifice many are unwilling to go through. War is one of those instances when one must step up to the plate and complete their mission. Soldiers know this call and answer it on many occasions. The searing new documentary Above and Beyond tells the incredible true story of a random bunch of men who jeopardized their lives to make sure a struggling nation reached their dream of independence. It is a story that highlights true courage and it is a tale many probably don’t even know about.
When World War II ended, peace on Earth reigned supreme. It was a prosperous time and many thought that it was just smooth sailing from then on. That is until 1948 saw Israel fighting for their independence. Their military was limited and not up to snuff so a ragtag group of American Jewish fighter pilots answered the call, smuggled planes out of the U.S., used them to form the Israeli Air Force, and ultimately win Israel’s independence. The bravery displayed by this group of warriors not only brought freedom to the Holy Land but proved just how selfless and honorable one can be.
Above and Beyond is a beautifully crafted documentary shining a light on a time many probably don’t even know about. Producer Nancy Spielberg (sister of Steven) has followed in her brother’s footsteps by telling a profound story in a gripping and artistic manner. Renowned visual effects company Industrial Light and Magic contributed extremely realistic CGI footage of fighter planes engaging in intense battle. This however might be unused footage from the dismal Red Tails, a World War II action film with similar themes but that is neither here nor there.
What makes Above and Beyond so great are the interviews of the some of the original pilots. All in the 80s, they each have fascinating anecdotes that tell a truly riveting story. With different personalities and each with their own unique voice, these men comprise a very colorful bunch to say the least. Their chemistry with one another could very well be made into a feature length film and the harrowing adventure that these heroes embarked on could be the stuff of cinematic gold.
Rookie director Roberta Grossman has put together all of the essential pieces to make a powerful documentary. Even the film’s score which is composed by Lorne Balfe is soaring and at times, deeply poignant. A student of Hans Zimmer’s, Balfe has a lot to say with his music and it definitely adds another layer to the proceedings. Also, history teachers should use Above and Beyond in their classrooms because this is a part of world history barely touched on. Hopefully this documentary will reach audiences all over because it is educational as well as extremely entertaining. Everyone involved in the production of this film should be commended for their strong work here and people should take note of Nancy Spielberg since she is a very competent filmmaker in her own right and not just a talentless product of nepotism.