adventures in the sky

The silent film concerts of the Prima Vista Quartet


Jack Powell is a young man passionate about motorsport. His neighbor, Mary Preston, is madly in love with him but he does not pay any attention to her because he is in love with Sylvia, herself in love with the wealthy David Armstrong. When the United States engage in the First World War, Jack and David join the Air Force to fight in France, and they soon become close friend. Mary, meanwhile, joins the Women's Motor Corp to get closer to Jack...

Battle of Saint-Mihiel, in the Meuse, involving the American Expeditionary Force under the command of General John J. Pershing, and the U.S. Army Air Service, forms the backdrop of the scenario.

A mix of melodrama and grand spectacle, “Wings“ is the last great film of the silent era. As Douglas Fairbanks defined the grammar of swashbuckler movies, William Wellman gave its nobility to a genre that would become essential in the theaters: the war film. The prowess of the fight scenes and spectacular aerial choreography give this story of friendship, love, brotherhood and heroism a genuine epic scope.

Producers Lucien Hubbard and Jesse L. Lasky hired director Wellman as he was the only director in Hollywood at the time who had World War I combat pilot experience as a former member of the legendary Lafayette escadrille. Actor Richard Arlen and writer John Monk Saunders had also served in World War I as military aviators. Many of the stuntmen who took part to the aerial sequences were veteran pilots of the United States Army Air Corps.

Wellman plays his career with this production and we are seeing here, undeniably, the emergence of a great director, not only because of his ability to master an oftent complex staging, but also by the care he provides to intimate scenes, the most tragic of them being treated with the decency of a man who has himself been in combat as an aviator.

In 1997, “
Wings“ was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant".

To render the heroic and Hollywoodian flavor of these aerial adventures, the Prima Vista Quartet hosts trumpeter Matthias Champon (alternately with Arthur Escriva) and percussionist Cédric Barbier to add symphonic colors to the strings.


> The film is presented with a 10 minutes intermission.


the film

director  William Wellman

year  1927

duration  2h20

composer  Baudime Jam (2014)

the first «Best movie» Academy Award

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The World War I Centennial Commission (WWICC), established by the U.S. Congress, endorses the film concert «Wings» as an official project of the World War I commemoration. This project is furthering the WWICC’s goals of educating the American people about the causes, courses and consequences of World War I, commemorating U.S. involvement in that war, and honoring the service and sacrifice of American servicemen and women in the war.

Interview with composer Baudime Jam