The first movie about the Hungarian Air Force ever to be made, Magyar Sasok was filmed during the intoxicating days of Operation Barbarossa, when Hungarian troops were advancing all along the Don River on their way to take part in the conquest of the Volga and the river’s lynchpin city, Stalingrad. But by the time this film was finally edited and shown to the public in 1943, the fiasco of Stalingrad was already long past. The glory of the Hungarian Army in the East which, for the most part, had been artificially manufactured had not only become threadbare, there were very serious concerns throughout the nation about how Hungary was going to extract itself from the war without another punishing peace like the one thrust upon it in 1918 after the end of the last world war.
It was during the early days of the Eastern Campaign --- even before the breathtaking advances of the Summer of 1942 --- that this film was commissioned by the Royal Hungarian Air Force, the National Miklos Horthy Flying Fund and the Hungarian Association of Aeronautics to the tune of a whopping 1,000,000 Pengo. The goal of this highly propagandistic film was not only to trumpet Hungary's successes in the War, but to serve as a recruitment poster for the armed forces. In all respects, it was money well spent: the film has a rather simplistic love story; Hungarian patriotic music; humorous intermezzos and at least ten minutes of spectacular air battles. A number of contemporary and upcoming film stars had roles in the film, which more than helped pull even more viewers into the theatres. Six cameramen worked on the film, including some who had just returned from the Don basin, where they filmed Hungarian soldiers during the push to the Volga.
Nothing could better testify to the professional skills of all involved than the movie's success, both in Hungary and abroad. It played simultaneously in three different capitals at one time and brought in more money and more fame than Germany's Stukas and Kampfgeschwader Lutzow. That the latter films are, today, more beloved among fans of the genre is most likely explained by two simple points: more people speak German than Hungarian and more people are familiar with German propaganda films than the almost non-existent Hungarian equivalents.
From a 21st Century viewpoint, the rather simplistic plot of Hungarian pilots confronted with the choice of whether they loved flying more than women (and vice versa) seems naive and embarrassingly pathetic at points. That's to be expected, given the difference of values between now and back then. Nevertheless, it's a spectacular film, if only because it gives a glimpse of a subject matter and time period so rarely covered and almost unknown outside of Hungary.
DVD-R is in Hungarian with switchable English subtitles. Approx. 81 mins. See film sample for audio and video quality!