on July 23, 2003
Yes, this is one of the finest war movies ever made. However, I have to shake my head at those who talk of the film's accuracy when the Canadian participation is almost completely ignored. Virtually no mention is made of Juno beach. The film certainly doesn't mention that Juno was the second bloodiest Normandy beach, behind only Omaha. In spite of that, the Canadians succeeded at their objectives better than any of the other participants in the landings. Stephen Ambrose dedicates a chapter of his book _D-Day_ to the Canadians. Surely this film could have at least _mentioned_ them.
A complete view of D-Day, showing participation by all forces, is long overdue. This film comes close, but it is still short of the mark.
on September 24, 2003
The Longest Day was one of the most anticipated films ever when it was about to hit the theaters over forty years ago. A lot of people really love this film, and don't get me wrong, this isn't a terrible film, but I don't love it and I don't see what makes it so special. The Longest Day is a long movie, which is a given, but the movie is a one time watch. After seeing it for the first time, I know for a fact that I doubt that I shall want to see it again. Again, it's not because it's a bad movie, or I don't like historical war films, it's just that it does very little as far as entertainment value and progression of the characters.
I gave it three stars because it is historically accurate, it is pretty easy to follow (the battle of Normandy I mean), and it does use some live footage that helps enhance its realness. This earned it three stars, but there is more to a movie than just realness or accuracy. There are things like character development, or main characters at that. Also, there is something called a consistant storyline, something within the plot that tells of a story. These things lacking reduces the star count to three and no more.
Let's talk about the missing consistancy in the story. Now, what is a consistant story? It's a story that has a beginning and an end, a conclusion. There is no one single consistant story in this film. The movie is about the Landing at Normandy, but it has a bunch of scenarios that kinda pop up during the film. These are the storylines, but they aren't consistant. For example, within the first hour of the film the story of the French Underground prior to the Landing is told. But it goes for say 20-30 minutes and then it just quits. The film doesn't go back to it, it just leaves it and its characters that they were shaping kinda out in the dark, forgotten about. This is a no no in story telling. You don't introduce characters, tell a story with them in it, but never go back to them. But rather just introduce new characters in new situations and scenarios. This isn't a consistant storyline, it's bouncing from one scenario to the next, shuffling characters and sub-plots around like some talent show.
Let's talk about the character development, or the characters in general. Most of the characters in the film are historically true. But like the storyline, it shuffles the characters in and out like a talent show. In fact this movie really is more talent show than movie. The reason why I say this is because this film has no real main character or even primary characters. Because it has so many scenarios, and different characters within those many scenarios, no character or characters emerge as a focal point.
However, this isn't a bad thing necessarily. Take a film like Tora! Tora! Tora! and this multi-scenario/lacking main character(s) chemistry works. But it doesn't work with the Longest Day. Why? Well in Tora! Tora! Tora! the cast consisted of nobodies. There really isn't an actor in that film that one would expect to take a leading role. In the Longest Day, there is an arm full of actors that you would expect to be the focal character. Not to mention, the characters and scenarios in Tora! Tora! Tora! didn't just vanish like they do in the Longest Day.
The Longest Day is not a film with an intent to tell an entertaining story, with characters you can follow. No, it is rather just a cameo movie. Think of it, would this film have the reputation, the prestige, the admiration if it didn't have an all-star cast? It is because it has an all star cast that people like this film, primarily. It's a cameo film. In this cameo film is where none of these "famous" actors really play a leading role, they just kinda poke their head into the film, supposedly play the role of a historical figure, and that's all there is to it. Robert Mitchum, John Wayne, Henry Fonda, these actors and more only have like 15 minutes in the film each. So it's quite clear that this is nothing more but an all-star, cameo movie. And because it lacks a consistant storyline, with consistant characters who last the whole film, the only way this film could get the admiration it desired was to plug in big names in small roles.
I see the Longest Day as more of a tribute film than a movie. It's intent was to round up big names and put them in historical roles, although minor roles mind you, and tell the story of June 6th, 1944 in a condensed form. And this isn't a bad thing, again, necessarily. It's a film worth seeing once, you'll learn something of the battle of Normandy. But with me, I like characters that last, I like a storyline that doesn't jump from scenario to scenario leaving sub-plots unfinished, untold. Not to mention, the ending of this film is for the pits. Apparently, they were spending too much money for these big name actors that they ran out of budget to end it right. The abrupt ending is just another black mark against this film. And it is indeed the Longest Cameo Film ever.
on June 1, 2004
There has been so much written here that I won't go into details. Suffice it to say that this is a great war movie illustrating the logistical nightmare that D-Day was. BUT, overlooking the third key allied participant, Canada, who had their own seperate beachhead cannot be forgiven. Considering how long this film is, surely something could have been worked in on behalf of a country who was in the war from the start, and whose efforts at Dieppe (in northern France) helped provide valuable lessons that Allied commanders used in preparing for D-Day. 14,000 Canadian soldiers landed on Juno beach that day, along with 450 who parachuted in the previous evening. The Canadian navy was there as well including 10,000 sailors. Surely some mention of all this could have been made!
on July 21, 1999
World War II as a football game (C'mon boys, let's go!). Sure, it's loaded with big names, but most of them just make hammy cameos, if not truly abhorrent performances (John Wayne, Sean Connery, Richard Beymer and the guy who keeps hearing "Hold until relieved!"). The French act better, but they get to wear those silly berets. No one dies bloody and many deliver long corny speeches that after a while you start rooting for the Germans! Made in 1963, it's "look-son-look-what- daddy-did-in- the-war!" kind of movie that, personally, I don't buy. Neither should you.
on June 10, 2004
Although this film is certainly worth watching, the viewer who has little idea of what Operation Overlord was about won't learn very much about it. Of course, we see many examples of heroism, but so much was left out that one can easily get a distorted view of things.
(1) Contrary to the impression that the Hollywood movie industry gives, the Americans and British did not defeat Germany alone. Three-quarters of the strength of the German Wehrmacht was destroyed by the Soviet Union. I realize that this film was made a the height of the cold war, but still some mention should have been made of their contribution to victory.
(2) The most impressive part of Overlord were the meticulous preparations made. Some mention of it was made, but more of it should have been shown, such as the various special weapons and ships that were made to ease the assault on the fortified beaches. Archive film could have been easily procured to show the various devices used to clear mine fields and barbed wire.
Most crucial was the development of the "Mulberry" artificial ports.
(3) This film used several Germans as advisors such as Blumentritt who were in the Wehrmacht High Command. They use this film as a vehicle for pushing the now largely discredited line that "if only Hitler had let the Generals run the war, they would have won it for him", and the also the myth that they opposed Hitler and held nothing but contempt for him (von Rundstedt calls Hitler "that Bohemian Corporal" in the film). In reality they were all very loyal to him and they really strongly supported him and his criminal policies when they were winning the war.
(4) The importance of the deception campaign making the Germans think the assault will be at the Pas de Calais and not a Normandy was very important and continued even after the landing on D-Day to make the Germans think Normandy was just a diversion.
This was not mentioned. A whole "virtual army" was created with fake radio traffic opposite Calais. This could have been shown as well.
(5) Although I have nothing personal against the man, John Wayne is a very poor actor and I have no idea where he got his reputation as one of Hollywood's leading men!