Erik Nelson Wants to Preserve the Past With ‘The Cold Blue’ World War II Documentary

Erik Nelson describes his documentary “The Cold Blue” as “the garage band of movies” — he didn’t have the large team or crew other documentary contenders have.“The Cold Blue” is a World War II documentary that looks at raids and B-17 bombing missions that took place during the war.

Nelson’s team looked at 34 reels of 16mm footage from William Wyler’s “The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress,” poring over them for 15 hours.The footage was without sound, so Nelson not only restored it to stunning quality, but he also tracked down eight of the existing B-17 planes, flew up in them and captured the sound.

The end result is an immersive and modern documentary.As a film historian, Nelson also sought out veterans who flew the B-17s.“Wyler covered the bomb runs, the briefings, and I knew what we had,” Nelson said of the footage.

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