Plot: As Alexander Korda’s production of The Thief of Bagdad went into hiatus after the second world war began, the producer didn’t remain idle and used the film’s cast and resources on a new picture, The Lion Has Wings. The movie was designed to serve as propaganda to bolster the spirits of the British population, blending together dramatic scenes and documentary style. The message was loud and clear, Britain was prepared for the incoming conflict and had the edge on Hitler’s forces on all fronts. So while not a typical production, The Lion Has Wings is an interesting piece of cinema and film buffs can find a lot to appreciate here.
Entertainment Value: As this is a propaganda film, it is impossible to discuss in the usual sense, as it wasn’t designed to entertain or spark artistic reaction, but to serve a social engineering purpose. Michael Powell was one of the film’s four directors and he said the movie was filled with half truths and half lies, which is to be expected, given the propaganda nature of the material. The film’s narrative tracks the build up to the war and while some sections trumpet overblown elements, this introduction to why the tensions escalated seems mostly on point. The method used is rather humorous at times, given the over the top comparison segments, but the core historical details are accurate, though that doesn’t last. So if you want a factual look at Britain’s war machine at the time, The Lions Has Wings won’t provide that, as it dials up the facts and bends the truth in most cases to ensure inspirational results.
But if you want to see some interesting footage, the movie delivers in that regard and has some terrific air force footage. The documentary style clips are fairly well integrated or at least seem less jarring than the heavy handed narration, which borders on unintended humor in some scenes. In any case, some interesting footage is found in The Lion Has Wings, so war buffs will appreciate that. The movie also has a lot to offer for anyone who has an interest in propaganda cinema, as this is often go for broke style in that regard, leading to some wild moments. This is isn’t subtle or careful in the least however, so those seeking reserved, hidden propaganda will be let down, as this in your face, over the top stuff. I found The Lions Has Wings to be interesting, but it will likely be more of a curio to most viewers.