Overlord (The Criterion Collection)
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On the DVD
As always, the Criterion Collection did extensive research to provide Overlord with a wealth of informative supplements. Director Stuart Cooper and actor Brian Stirner share the DVD's feature-length commentary, and Overlord's historical context is thoroughly explored, beginning with "Mining the Archive," in which the Imperial War Museum archivists provide background history on the archival footage that director Stuart Cooper so carefully integrated into his narrative. "Capa Influences Cooper" is a photo essay in which Cooper explores the influence of legendary war photographer Rober Capa on the visual and emotional content of Overlord, and this emphasis is further supported by "Cameramen at War," a newsreel tribute to wartime photographers and newsreel cameramen, featuring some of the Imperial War Museum's most spectacular footage from World War II. "Germany Calling" is an amusing example of archival propaganda (produced in 1941 by the British Ministry of Information and briefly excerpted in Overlord) which ridicules Hitler's Nazi regime by synchronizing Nazi rally footage so a silly British melody. "A Test of Violence" is Stuart Cooper's 1969 short tribute to the bleak, war-themed paintings of Spanish artist Juan Genovés; it was this film that led Cooper to create Overlord. Also included is Stirner's dramatic reading of journals by two Scottish D-Day soldiers whose experiences parallel those of Stirner's character in Overlord; the film's original theatrical trailer; and a 30-page booklet with an Overlord essay by Kent Jones, a short history of the Imperial War Museum, and excerpts from the Overlord novelization by Cooper and cowriter Christopher Hudson. --Jeff Shannon
Top Customer Reviews
Being a small component of a massive device is the central idea behind Stuart Cooper's "Overlord," an odd, hazy, child's-fever-dream of a movie that uses staged black-and-white scenes interspersed with actual archival footage from World War II.
We follow Tom (Brian Stirner) through a drab, dispiriting round of basic training; his experiences are interspersed with separate scenes of battle, of invasion and aftermath to illustrate events going on "meanwhile" all around him, events leading up to Normandy.
The movie is a truly unique visual experience. John Alcott shot the storyline scenes (just before he began work on "Barry Lyndon") and the movie has a look not unlike "The Elephant Man," or its thematic brother, "Johnny Got His Gun."
Though the incorporation of actual footage is very smooth, I never had any trouble distinguishing what came from the 40s and what was shot in the 70s. That didn't ruin the experience for me: Look at the hauntingly beautiful scenes involving bombers flying above the cloudline at night, or a harrowing training sequence in which a rowboat ditches its passengers onto rocks (Cooper reveals in his commentary that one or two men actually died during the exercise).
With its short, spare narrative and its stark conclusion, "Overlord" almost feels like a short story of a movie, but that doesn't downplay its impact or importance. This is a little-known movie worth reviving and it gets a fine Criterion presentation here. The commentary with Copper and Sterner is particularly good; it's worth listening to to hear how they did it even if you don't particularly connect with the film.
Wonderfully evocative on every level. The photography is extraordinary. Powerful images shimmer next to the sublime. The very human dilemma of how to make sense of life and war has never been told better. A great film.
Fast forward to the '70s and a new war taking place in Vietnam, needless to say that people were growing sick of the war and while previous war films were successful as propaganda films, in 1975, a film directed by Stuart Cooper would feature a young soldier named Tom Beddows who was called up to join the military and fight in the war but would have images of him being killed in battle.
Unlike any war film seen ever in cinema at that time, Cooper who was to work on a documentary about soldier embroidery did a lot of research and in the process was able to find archived footage kept at the Imperial War Museum and instead, wanted to male a film about a young soldier's journey and outlook on life as a young man who is called up to join the military, his life in boot camp and his life and thoughts as he and his fellow soldiers are being whisked to the beaches to fight in the war. But what made "Overlord" so much different from war films is that it effectively combined archived newsreel and fictional war footage captured by various sources and successfully creating a war film in 1975. But also, the main character was influenced by the letters of several D-day soldiers.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I saw it for the first time in 1985. It introduced me to Project Overlord, the Allied build up to D-Day, from the personal perspective of a young British soldier who is haunted by... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Art Hansen
Great film. Interestingly merging actual film footage of Overlord with the story line. Probably one of the best WWII films I have seen.Published 19 months ago by surly
Blending masterfully the documentary films of World War II with the dramatic and symbolic story of private Beddows from basic training to the horrific D-Day experience of the... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Dimitrios
The movie is well made, but the story is annoying. The protagonist seems like a dingbat from the start. I wanted to slap him myself. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Marvelous Mal
Great Upgrade to High-Defination. Film Depicts Both Sides of the War. (i.e. Allies Vs Axis Armies) should be Mandatory Veiwing for All History Students.Published 23 months ago by John Ford
Done in 1975 this movie follows the life of one British Soldier up to D-Day. It shows some military hardware I never knew existed (there were a lot of experimental equipment that... Read morePublished on May 18, 2014 by Richard H. Burk