✮ | Burning Blue
In 1995, I saw a play in the West End called Burning Blue. It was a brilliant telling of a story about the relationship between two gay men in the US Navy in the 1980s. It was brilliant, memorable, and award-winning. A new film version of the play has just been released and it’s quite the opposite.
The play was written by David Milne Greer and is based on his experiences as a US Navy Aviator in the 1980s. The fictional story is about an investigation into a naval accident that turns into a gay witch hunt and is based on Greer’s knowledge of the treatment of gay men in the US Navy. Two Navy fighter pilots – Daniel (Trent Ford) and Will (Morgan Spector) – live and work aboard a Navy destroyer in very close quarters with other servicemen.
An accident that involves Will is investigated by the higher ups and puts their unit under intense scrutiny. Complicating things is the arrival of a third pilot Matt (Rob Mayes), and he and Daniel fall in love, causing Matt to leave his wife. But this type of behaviour was not accepted during the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ era; homosexuality in the Navy was just not allowed, and there were serious consequences for out gay men. Needless to say, Daniel and Matt’s relationship can’t endure the Navy’s ant-gay policy, and then suddenly theirs, and Will’s, lives are changed forever when another accident happens.
You would think a film about this timely subject would expertly crafted and well told. Well, it’s not. The pacing and acting of the movie are just horrible; scenes go on for a longer than they should, the acting (unfortunately), is stiff and wooden, and quite a few of the dramatic scenes are funny. Burning Blue has the look and feel of a Murder She Wrote episode, and it lacks the drama and intensity of the stage play. Burning Blue only gets one star – for tackling the theme of gay love in the military – but it tackles it very badly.