Sydney Film Festival – film #9: The Lost Aviator – hero or murderer?

Did he kill his lover?

That’s what the filmmaker sets out to discover about his great uncle, Captain Bill Lancaster, the infamous heroic failure of British aviation. His family is not too pleased about it, they’d rather dead dogs be left dead, but all the more reason to dig up his memory and make a show out of it.

The director has done a great job of painting a portrait of the era and circumstances surrounding his uncle’s life. Imagine trying to fly from London to Australia, hop-scotching across the globe, only to balls it up within spitting distance of his goal.

To make matters worse, the socialite he took along for the ride, the one paying his expenses and the one he taught to fly, was destined to eclipse him as a famous flyer.

For some, that might have been enough to drive them to murder, but enter, stage right, a mysterious stranger and a twisted love triangle! The hot nights in Miami were going to get very hot indeed.

This documentary is heroic, epic, farcical, tragic and ultimately, very entertaining, even more so because the filmmaker’s family didn’t want him to make it and he bravely put them on camera saying so. Suddenly I have this image in my head of the Soup Nazi yelling at the filmmaker, “No Christmas presents for you!”

One note – I assume the famous WWII British plane, the Lancaster bomber, was named after this guy, but it was never stated in the film. Curious.

GRADE: 7.5/10

(Australia) Dir./ Writer: Andrew Lancaster

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