‘Above and Beyond’ Review

By Louie Wieseman

While I’m not one for old documentaries like the ones on History Channel, I did quite enjoy Above and Beyond. Above and Beyond is the story of how World War II fighter pilots had incidentally created the Israeli Air Force.

    The documentary first begins with the first two pilots that landed in Israel and were the first two official planes of the Israeli Air Force. It all takes place in 1948, right around the time World War II fighters were returning home. Palestine and Israel were splitting up areas in the Middle East due to an action and vote taken by the UN.

Many of the fighters from the US were Jewish and wanted to stand up for their heritage during a time full of anti-Semitism. The pilots wanting to stand up for their Jewish heritage was the most outstanding part of the film to me. These pilots are putting their life on the line, doing extraordinary things, and risking their lives to help a new country get its feet.

The film intertwines between the pilots that survived and historians telling their part of the story and the overall picture of what was happening, respectively. The historians are very straight forward in their story telling, but the pilots had this extra sparkle in their eye while telling the filmmakers what was happening city to city. I absolutely loved hearing their stories, especially one pilot’s usually colorful tales.

Time period documentaries like Above and Beyond do tend to feel lackluster since they’re usually stories told a million times. Thankfully the freshness of a story told by the actual pilots themselves makes up for this. The stories can tend to drag out, but who can blame the pilots for wanting to give all of the exciting details of everything they were doing? There’s only a few times where the overall history of the countries starts to drag out the film a bit.

Overall, I did enjoy Above and Beyond after knowing nothing about it going in. I watched it on a whim before another film and was pleasantly surprised at the filmmakers choice to let the pilots tell so much of the story themselves to make up the film.

Verdict: Great
Positives: A newer story that isn’t told, letting the subjects tell the story, recreation of the events and the historical photos all feel as old as 1948 can be.
Negatives: Stories do tend to get longer than wanted, minor plot lines mixing and becoming confusing.