Longest Day, The (clr) [Blu-ray]
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This special collector's commemorative edition has been issued in honor of the June 6, 1944 Allied invasion of France, which marked the beginning of the end of Nazi domination over Europe. The attack involved 3,000,000 men, 11,000 planes and 4,000 ships, comprising the largest armada the world has ever seen.
The Longest Day is a vivid, hour-by-hour recreation of this historic event. Featuring a stellar international cast, and told from the perspectives of both sides, it is a fascinating look at the massive preparations, mistakes, and random events that determined the outcome of one of the biggest battles in history. Winner of two 1962 OscarsÂ(r) (Special Effects and Cinematography), The Longest Day ranks as one of Hollywood's truly great war films.
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The acting has some bright moments, and some not so bright. I thought most of the British and German actors did a fair job, I found some of the American ones to be a bit "stiff." Henry Fonda did a decent job, as did Eddie Albert, but I thought John Wayne sounded like he was reading from the script.
I recall my father thinking the movie was a reasonably accurate re-creation of events. He noted that some things were changed to suit a movie set, but in all, not bad. It is a long movie and makes one appreciate what all those involved gave to bring freedom back to Europe.
It's good that the British side of things is included, we American's often portray that the Brits were along as observers. It would have been even better if the contributions of the Canadians were also emphasized.
It's nice to see many of the movie stars, from the period when the movie was made, in the movie. It truly has an all star cast.
My most serious negative comment is about the amphibious landings on Omaha Beach. The scenes of carnage and death showed how badly mauled and disrupted the first couple of landing waves were, but the actual event was far worse than that depicted. For one thing, the seas were very rough on D-Day, not the almost placid water shown in the film. And the first wave of GIs was almost wiped out from the German artillery, machine guns, and snipers, not to mention the rough seas, with very few of the men making it off the beach.
The landing scenes shown in the 1998 film Saving Private Ryan were far more realistic. But in defense of the filmmakers, The Longest Day was released only 18 years after the fact, with many Americans having relatives or friends who were killed on D-Day, so it was too soon for the horrific realism of Saving Private Ryan.
So on balance, I have to say that The Longest Day is a well made film that utilized the talent of a fine ensemble cast. It's now one of those must-see films for fans of war movies.
One thing that I particularly like is that the Germans and French speak in their native language (with sub-titles, of course). That made it much more realistic.
The Longest Day is one of those movies that's just too good not to be watched not just a few times but MANY times. While certainly Hollywood and definitely long and in glorious Black and White (and all shades of gray in between), if there was one movie that best depicts the invasion, this is it.
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