When the third Hobbit movie is finished next year, the Oscar-winning producer Peter Jackson of New Zealand will tackle a remake of that wartime classic, The Dambusters.
The producer (who has lost weight recently, although looks just as scruffy as usual), is known for his extravagant productions and special effects.
Jackson is already stockpiling Second World War memorabilia at his movie studio in New Zealand, including ten full-sized Lancaster bomber fiberglass replicas made in China. Jackson himself is a collector and restorer of vintage aircraft.
(To read my blog post about this iconic aircraft, click Love Those Lancasters.
Even better, the script is being written by that clever, funny British actor and playwright Stephen Fry. He’s played a number of roles, but my favourite is the British series called Jeeves and Wooster, in which Fry played the deadpan British butler.
The Dambusters was the term given to Royal Air Force Squadron 617, a select group of British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand flyers, plus one American serving in the RCAF, who achieved the near-impossible one night by bombing three German dams in a raid called "Operation Chastise." Sixteen specially-modified Lancaster bombers took part in the raid; only eight came home.
The mission grew out of an invention by engineer Barnes Wallis, who correctly calculated that if a cylindrical bomb was dropped on the water at a certain angle, it would "skip" across the surface and bounce up against the dam.
This photo taken by reconnaissance aircraft the next day shows the mighty breach created by the "bouncing bombs." The resulting flood damaged military factories in the Ruhr Valley, and also killed sixteen hundred people on the ground.
Their mission was made into a 1955 movie starring Richard Todd and Michael Redgrave. It’s a classic piece of British folklore and much loved in that country. The original movie included the dog's name "Nigger." To read my blog post about the controversy surrounding the name, click Dambusters Dog Has Unspeakable Name.
One of the Dambusters is related to me by marriage. My mother’s cousin Margaret is married to Fred Sutherland, who was a twenty-year-old air gunner at the time. They live in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta.
Fred said the men didn’t even know what their target was going to be until they were briefed just before takeoff. Their initial reaction was that they were being sent on a suicide mission. To read my interview with him, click: Fred Sutherland.
Various actors have been suggested, but apparently Jackson wants them young – because the original Dambusters were mere youths. The leader of the raid was Wing Commander Guy Gibson, pictured below. He was just twenty-four years old at the time. He received the Victoria Cross for his leadership in the Dambusters raid. Two years later, he was shot down and killed.
Given the dramatic real-life story and today’s special effects, the new Dambusters movie should be a winner. Let's hope it comes to pass.
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