Turning Tide

A young boy finds himself in a life changing situation when he comes face to face with a downed German pilot in 1940's Scotland.

Genre: Drama

Length: 14:59

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Producer/s : David Ross,

Director/s : Andrew Muir, 

Writer/s : Andrew Muir, 

Actor/s : Patrick McLaughlin, Marianne McIvor

 

War comes to Scotland

This spectacular first film from Andrew Muir takes place in Scotland in the early days of the second world war, as German bombers fly overhead on their way to the city across the firth. Dozens of Heinkels and Spitfires battle it out in mid-air, blazing guns, flaming engines and all. It was done not with CGI but with models made by coproducer David Ross.

Effort has gone too into the period setting, with 1930s cars and – equally impressive – streets with no cars at all. Nor is it all technical achievement, for there are excellent creative details, like barking dogs being the first sign of the bombers. And sweeping music that matches camera movements is the kind of flourish that that doesn’t happen by chance. It looks like a feature.

Not that high production values make a film. Patrick McLaughlin is super as David, and the film keeps him at its heart, as he sees a bomber crash, then finds the pilot on the foreshore. Tension mounts: the German may or may not take David hostage, as David’s mum and the villagers come closer. It’s nuanced too, with the German pilot no more a villain than the angry Scot who probably wants to kill him.

If there’s a weakness, it’s an uncertainty about what it all adds up to. It’s nearly a transition to manhood tale, until David turns out to be a bystander as the airman himself decides his fate. Nor is there a hint that his father is a PoW, which could have given the airman’s fate huge significance to David. Somehow the drama ends up being smaller than the production.

There’s little wrong with Turning Tide. It’s just a shame that the story isn’t as finely tuned as everything else, or we might have had a genuine Oscar contender.