Rhonda Walker digs deeper in the story behind 'Red Tails'

By Rhonda Walker - Anchor

DETROIT - The Tuskegee Airmen were a highly trained, highly intelligent and courageous group of African American pilots during World War II. And beginning Friday, Jan. 20, their true story will be told on the big screen in the highly anticipated major action film "Red Tails."  

The films executive producer, known for his Stars Wars and Indian Jones blockbuster films, George Lucas, spent $100 million of his own money to make and market the film, because despite his well documented success in film making, shockingly he was turned down by every major movie studio to make the film. 

He says the reason was because of fears a predominately black cast would not be marketable globally.  Lucas, however, believed otherwise and felt that while many of these heroes are still alive, it was important to share their heroic story and do it justice.  As the granddaughter of an original Tuskegee Airmen, I agree. After seeing the film with my mom in a pre-screening, I can confirm he definitely did them justice. 

It is a great film that everyone in the family will enjoy of all ages, genders and races.

The film is a feel good action movie about the Tuskegee Airmen that fought two wars in the 1940s, one against Hitler and the other against racism in the military.

I recently interviewed actor Nate Parker, who plays a flight leader in the film and who says it's an honor and a huge responsibility to represent these men and portray them the right way because of everything they accomplished and went through. He went on to say, "Many of these men were valedictorians, scoring perfect on pilot exams and went on to lead and rise in the ranks of the military and helped desegregate the military."

The Detroit Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen is the largest chapter of these great men in the country and they are giving it a resounding thumbs up. Through tears and praise, retired Lieutenant Colonel of the US Air force Reserve Harry Stewart says it's a great inspirational story for young people to see. He says, "I think the film did a good job of portraying us a very very good job." 

For Parker, that's music to his ears. He told me, "The first thing I say when I meet with these men, is did we do you well and they say we love the film."  Parker goes on to say, "Everyone associated with the film is ignoring the early Oscar buzz, we did this for the airmen, and this is our love letter to them." 

I only wish my grandfather Eugene Coleman could have been alive to see it. 

Red Tails rated PG-13 also stars Academy Award winning actor Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Academy Award Nominee Tarence Howard and it's already getting Oscar buzz prior to its release.

Parker describes the film as "an exciting, heroic, stand up and cheer film but also in a historical context that reminds us of where we've been as a country, it's wilding entertaining and on top of that you have George Lucas at the helm that told me he waited 23 years to get this movie made and it's going to be right."  

Red Tails goes far beyond the original Tuskegee Airman documentary for HBO as Parker describes, "Red Tails was made for $100 million and the original film in 1995 was made for $1 million, the other difference is the earlier documentary focused more on the racism on what they had to overcome to become Tuskegee Airmen and Red Tails is more of a slice of them having the opportunity to fight and fly over Berlin and provide air cover for the bombers over Berlin and the most important bomb dropping of the war and what eventually turned the tides of it."

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