The film Red Tails takes place in Italy, 1944. We’re posting about it today because it was filmed in 9 filming locations, the main “base camp” in the Czech Republic. Other locations include, Slovenia, Italy, Croatia, San Rafael, California, Skywalker Ranch, San Rafael, California, Hamilton Air Force Base, Novato, California, Kerner Optical Sound Stages, San Rafael, California, and Prague Studios, Prague, Czech Republic.
The Lucasfilm Ltd. production of Red Tails was produced by George Lucas and Rick McCallum.
As the war takes its toll on Allied forces in Europe, a squadron of black pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen are finally given the chance to prove themselves in the sky – even as they battle discrimination on the ground. It’s a tribute to the unsung heroes who rose above extraordinary challenges and ultimately soared into history.
We have a right to fight for our country. The same as every other American. – Colonel A.J. Bullard
Red Tails was filmed between April and July, with one week filming in Croatia. The production utilized Prague Studios’ facilities in Letnany as well as locations in Milovice and Karlovy Vary where the home base of the pilots was created near an old Soviet runway located at Boží Dar.
God’s Gift? (Boží Dar translates to God’s gift.)
Yes, they built themselves a town and that is what they named it…
The Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968. About 30 miles northeast of Prague, they built a closed off town and called it Boží Dar—“God’s Gift” in Czech—and they took great pains to keep it secret from nearby villages because it housed nuclear warheads. Bozi Dar is filled with Soviet-style apartment blocks and military barracks. It had its own cinema, powerplant, farmland, and airstrip. The walls of many apartments are still plastered with 1970s Russian newspapers, including Pravda—the Soviet Communist Party’s official newspaper. The town was abandoned by its Russian inhabitants in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union and many believe that the land around Boží Dar is contaminated, driving away any interested developers.
But that is the subject of tomorrow’s post which you have to come back for!
Back to the Red Tails selection of location…
The production was serviced by Prague-based Partnership Pictures and a predominantly local crew, including Czech stuntmen and Oscar-nominated sound engineer Petr Forejt (from the film Wanted).
Lucas and McCallum previously filmed several episodes of The Adventures Of Young Indiana Jones in the Czech Republic and were eager to return for Red Tails. “We have been consistently impressed with the country’s talented film professionals, the high quality of the local craftsmanship and the beauty of the Czech Republic’s widely varied locations,” McCallum said.
Here’s a trailer for the film…
Here are some images of the set from the base camp used in the film. We found the photographs first and then watched the film, which was a great experience as we immediately recognized what parts were filmed in the Czech Republic.
Though the film is based loosely on fact, people do argue what was true and what was fiction. The DVD we watched had a wonderful documentary where some of the living fighters shared their experiences and stories in regards to their time in flight as well as returning home to continuing segregation and racism.
A wonderful blog to read some true facts about the Tuskegee Airmen is Commemorative Air Force’s (CAF) Red Tail Squadron’s Blog and it’s written by the son of a pilot.
The mission of the Commemorative Air Force’s (CAF) Red Tail Squadron is to preserve and share the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first black military pilots. The Airmen served with distinction during WWII (and beyond). They overcame racism on the ground to fight fascism in the air, fighting for a country that turned a blind eye to policies and a large population that discriminated against these men and their families because of the color of their skin. The CAF Red Tail Squadron restored and flies a red-tailed P-51C Mustang such as the Airmen flew during WWII. The airplane appears at air shows in North America and at each stop her crew tells the story of the Airmen and how through persistence and courage they overcame huge obstacles in order to serve in the military. In 2011, the CAF Red Tail Squadron developed a traveling exhibit called “RISE ABOVE” to educate people – especially young people – about the Airmen and how they demonstrated the importance of setting goals and overcoming obstacles in order to succeed. Visit their site here.
There is a 15 minute video created by the Department of the Air Force entitled Tuskegee Airman Tribute which you can watch below.
After the Second World War ended, the good work of the Tuskegee Airmen did not stop. The Red Tails continued to build a legacy. Above the toils and conflicts of war, they rose to the stars and beyond. President Harry Truman’s Executive Order 9981 on July 26, 1948, ended military segregation and allowed the Airmen to serve in greater capacities. They assumed command positions over fight units and provided instruction at civilian flight programs, and some men, based on their qualifications, were even re-assigned to units that were formerly reserved for whites only.
The hard work of the Tuskegee Airmen and their continued leadership and service resulted in the collective receipt on March 29th, 2007, of a Congressional Gold Medal at the United States Capitol rotunda. Though many of their former units have been altered or rendered inactive, the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen cannot be forgotten, given the extent of their depiction in historical texts, novels, documentaries, TV shows, comics, toy brands, and a slew of films providing their reel American history.
We recommend this film not only for the beautiful scenes of the Czech Republic, but also for the wonderful story about the courageous black pilots of WWII that made their mark on history. You can order the film here.