I've taken the whole family to see two extraordinary documentaries in the theater this year: They Shall Not Grow Old and Apollo 11. I don't know if this is a trend or just fortuitous timing on these projects, but I do hope this style of documentary catches on. As director Erik Nelson puts it about these movies, “All three of us were consciously thinking of theatrical big screens as a time-travel machine to immerse the viewer in the motion and events."
From the Fathom Events website:
The Cold Blue is a tribute to the men who won the ultimate victory - 75 years ago. Extraordinary, never before seen color footage shot by one of the world's greatest directors, William Wyler, puts you 30,000 feet over Nazi Germany, battling killer flak, enemy fighters and 60 below degree temperatures. All the odds were stacked against returning home alive - and men literally died to bring this harrowing footage into theaters today. Now, you can fly alongside the last surviving heroes who flew, who fought, who won - the men who just might have saved the world.
Multiple Academy Award® winning director William Wyler went to Europe in 1943 to document the Air War in progress. Wyler flew actual combat missions with B-17's - and one of his three cinematographers was killed during filming. Incredibly, all of the raw color footage Wyler shot for The Memphis Belle was recently discovered deep in the vaults of the National Archives, and a new film has been constructed out of the material.
Update: Definitely catch the movie when it's available on HBO. Director Erik Nelson has woven Wyler's footage to provide both an overview of the Eighth Air Force and specifics of their daily life and of their missions. Nine of the surviving veterans of the Eighth provide narration and interviews. The movie is a tremendous accomplishment that I highly recommend.
If you have seen William Wyler's 1944 movie The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress, you will notice there is quite a bit of overlap in footage. Wyler's focus for the movie was The Memphis Belle's 25th bombing run, which did include quite a bit of other information and shots regarding the US 8th Air Force in its brief 44 minute length. While there is a lot of overlap of footage, the upgrade in film quality alone would make it worthwhile to watch The Cold Blue. Also, the addition of veterans "narrating" over the movie instead of a dedicated narrator also adds to my recommendation. While you're waiting for The Cold Blue to be aired on HBO, take a look at Wyler's released film The Memphis Belle, available right now on several subscription services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.