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Firestorm - documentary DVD / foreign language DVD review
Unrated by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rating: 4 stars
Featuring: Michael Kloft, Joerg Friedrich, Richard Overy
Director: Michael Kloft   Studio: First Run Features
DVD release: 24 June 2008   Runtime: 93 min. (1 disc)
Format: Color, DVD-Video, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
DVD Features: Audio tracks (German), Subtitles (English - Dolby Digital Stereo), Amateur film footage of Germany in ruins, Filmmaker biography

Michael Kloft's Firestorm is a heartbreaking documentary about the carpet bombing of Germany by the Allies during World War II. It brings into focus the awful truth about what many believe to be the most necessary war of the modern age. In a time of war, the proper way to do things is to destroy war machines and infrastructure used to produce it. Kloft's film makes the point crystal clear that Great Britain and the U.S. used excessive force in their bombing raids and minimum precision, dropping nearly 1.4 million bombs. Thousands of planes were used in these day and night attacks on Germany, destroying homes, schools, and the lives of the German people.

You might guess by his name that director Michael Kloft is German; you'd be right, but that doesn't keep him from making an even-handed film. He interviews British bomber pilots, German citizens, firefighters, fighter pilots and authors to provide a multi-faceted narrative. German citizens who survived the bombings, and were happy that they were happening, tell their reasons why. A British pilot relates how disconnected he felt to the damage he helped cause.

The title refers to the incendiary bombing that occurred. Conventional bombs were dropped to blow the roofs off of buildings, then incendiary bombs - essentially bundles of flares - were dropped in hopes of starting the wooden structures of buildings to ignite. Once the fires started, they were difficult to contain and produced a firestorm that burned at temperatures of around 1500 Fahrenheit. These blazes sucked all the oxygen from the area, vaporized any water, and drew into them snearby items and people with their hunger for more air to burn.

While I watched this film, my mind kept trying to provide a rationale for the terrible destruction caused by my country. I can't defend it. The things Germany was responsible for in the '30s and '40s were unforgivable. Germany needed to be stopped, but the collateral damage was excessive. Too many citizens who were not sympathetic to the Nazis were killed. The burned bodies of men, women, and children are shown in the streets of Germany, victims of the overzealous actions of the Allies. Still, I want to rationalize.

I can only hope at this point, that the nations of the world will avoid this kind of warfare. Avoiding warfare altogether would be fine with me.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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