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on November 6, 2003
"The Longest Day" seemed aptly appropriate, as it has become a classic cornerstone of epic film-making about the war, having done something never before accomplished in its time, namely attempting to render, in one film, the grand scale of that first day of the D-Day landings, June 6, 1942. the film suitably shows the preparations made before the landings, effectively building the story just before that famous day in history, and follows a tremendous cast of formidable actors as they portray critical characters in that fateful day's events. The implication of the film is obviously not to tell the tale of the whole war, or even to develop any one character, which is discussed further later. Rather, the film-makers seem to have intended to portray both the sheer magnitude of human achievement as well as loss associated with the invasion of Fortress Europe by the Allies in their attempt to wrest control of the continent from Germany and its Axis allies.
"The Longest Day" is unquestionably an historically accurate film about the events leading up to and including D-day. It includes vignette depictions of the Allied soldiers waiting to be deployed, after having been put on standby several times. It illustrates the day-to-day lives of the occupying Germans who did not expect the invasion. In fact, the landing of such a large force was considered unlikely and even impossible considering the weather at the time. The stories of the Glider Troops, Paratroop drops, the beach landings, and the actual land invasion itself all come together to weave this immense tale.
Something of great value about this film, essentially a macro view of that fateful day in 1942, is the film-maker's decision to present the plot from multiple perspectives. Wisely, these points of view include the Allies (mostly Americans, British, and the Free French), the Germans, and even a bit of the French Resistance. It effectively portrays the attitudes of the soldiers, commanders, and large groups like divisions and armies through the dialog and actions. The audience even gets to see some of the personal moments of that day. The story deftly follows several individual's exploits whose historical significance may or may not be great, but who are nevertheless part of the fabric of that momentous date. There is little character development, and rightly so, because it focuses on The Day and its events, which are, in essence, the main characters more so than the actors. However, the characters are still very intriguing, and deep due to the magnificent performances by an ensemble cast including, to name a few, John Wayne, Sean Connery, and Richard Burton.
This remarkable movie has amazingly large, almost panoramic, scenes. Shot with an eye and fell for the enormity of the moment, the director of photography created several scenes where the camera pans back to show an immense battlefield filled with thousands of extras. Given an bird's eye view of the struggle, the audience cannot help but be awed by the size of the engagements depicted. The sets are also notable because of the high quality and sheer volume of period artifacts, vehicles, uniforms and equipment. In all fairness, where Steven Spielberg expertly used computer generated graphics (CGI) and matte painting to stage the enormity of D-Day, "The Longest Day" employs literally employs a cast of thousands, and what appear to be thousands of acres of movie set. Simply put, some scenes are awesome and worthy or rewinding.

It is interesting to explore a social context of this film, and place it in perspective with its release date. Unlike modern war films, "The Longest Day" lacks gore and death. Some modern day critics have denounced this, and it may be wholly unjustified. If one considers that the film was made in 1962, a time when the typical audience was filled with people who not only knew what World War II was like, but may have been personally involved in it (the war had been over for only 15 years), the significance of this takes on a different meaning. If average World War II veterans were, let us say, approximately fifty years of age, their memories were still clear and most likely still impinged somehow by those memories. "The Longest Day" did not, nor did it really need to include the horrors of war to help sell it. On the contrary, if "The Longest Day" had the sort of gore associated with "Saving Private Ryan," the movie might not have sold, because the public would have thought it to be unnecessarily graphic. It is notable to recall that many modern audiences believed "Saving Private Ryan" to be overly graphic. In fact, it became a selling point for that film. If today's public, desensitized by not only the passage of time since the war's end, as well as the accustomed violence of modern films thought "Ryan" was too violent, "The Longest Day" would have been considered utterly distasteful in 1962 had it been filmed with the same sort of graphic depictions of carnage. While "The Longest Day" was not intended for children, there is no content that would be deemed objectionable for them to see, minus perhaps the situation to which the movie pertains.
It is noticeable that the Allies' story is favored. More of it is portrayed that that of the German side. This could be because there was more information available about the Allied operation, and because the film was meant for an American audience. It was gratifying to see people from both sides of the story being depicted as human, even when it is discovered that Hitler had just taken an untimely sedative, was resting, and was not to be disturbed, even as the invasion began!
Overall, "The Longest Day" is an inspiring film, which should be watched with the understanding of someone who might have lived through the war, even if it is imagined. Likewise, it should not be compared to modern movies, because the point trying to be made would be missed.
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on November 6, 2003
"The Longest Day" is a historically accurate film about the events leading up to and including D-day. It includes the Ally soldiers waiting to be deployed after being put on standby several times, the Germans not expecting the landing of the large force, the glider and paratroop missions, the beach landings, and the land invasion. This film, like any present situation, only hints at what might happen later. The movie is told from multiple perspectives including the Allies (mostly Americans, British, and the Free French), Germans, and even a bit of the French Resistance. It effectively portrays the attitudes of the soldiers, commanders, and large groups like divisions and armies through the dialog and actions. There is little character development, and rightly so, because it focuses on the day and its events which are, in essence, the main characters more so than the actors. However, the characters are still very intriguing and deep due to the magnificent performances by an ensemble cast including, to name a few, John Wayne, Sean Connery, and Richard Burton. This incredible movie has amazingly large and almost panoramic scenes. In some scenes, the camera pans back to show the large battlefield and thousands of extras which help depict the size of the engagements. The sets are also notable because of the high quality and sheer volume of period artifacts.
This epic film, unlike modern war films, lacks gore and death because it was made in 1962 when people still knew what World War II was like. "The Longest Day" did not include, nor did it need to, the horrors of war to help sell it. ... If today's desensitized public thought "Saving Private Ryan" was graphic, it would surely have been insensitive to the public. While "The Longest Day" was not intended for children, there is no content that would be deemed objectionable for them to see, minus perhaps the situation to which the movie pertains.
There are a few awkward bits in the film. When some briefings are given, only one man responds to the commander's questions. In addition, the air cover on the beaches seemed limited. It is possible that there were only two German aircraft, but that seems unlikely. It is noticeable that the Allies' story is favored and more of it is portrayed that that of the German's. It could be because there is more information available about the Allied operation, but I postulate that it is because it was released to an American audience. ...BR> Overall, "The Longest Day" is an incredible film, which should be watched with the understanding of someone that lived through the war, even if it is imagined. Likewise, it should not be compared to modern movies because the point trying to be made would be missed.
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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.
Grade: C+
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on September 14, 2003
This movie is, hands down, one of the best WWII films ever. It's filmed in black and white, which may seem old and boring, but it does quite the opposite. The B&W only makes the movie seem more graphic and more realistic, while allowing the filmmakers to cut in actual WWII footage.
This film has it all, the horror of war without the graphicness of war, the emotional turmoil men go through, a great soundtrack, historical accuracy, (the foreign characters even speak their own languages) and, of course, The Duke. (I mean John Wayne) This covers so much more than Saving Private Ryan did, showing much more than the beach landings, you get the paradrops, the famous assault on Pointe de Huc, and the German perspective on the invasions.
This is classic filmmaking at its best. Simply stunning cinematography, sound, and acting.
The only problem I have with this movie is the portrayal of the assualt on Pointe de Huc; the Rangers that fought there actually did come across and destroy the guns they were sent to knock out. Darryl F. Zanuck (the director) explained this by saying that he wanted to make a statement of the futility of war. I agree with this statement, though he could've done it differently, instead of mocking the sacrifice the 2nd Ranger Battalion made to save men on Utah beach.
This is the only inaccuracy that I could find in the movie. If you want a G-rated, well done, profoundly moving and sometimes funny war film, definately buy The Longest Day. It's superb.
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on September 4, 2003
I'm a 20 year old girl, and although some war movies are ok, they're not my favorite thing in the world...This one totally blew me away. I was 10 the first time i watched it with my father, and i've watched it at least 5 more times since...I absolutely love the longest day, because not only is it a very accurate portrayal of what went on, but the international cast of actors was simply amazing, from Fernandel to Connery, this was truly a great movie...i highly recommend this movie to everyone, especially my generation, and if you think black and white movies [are bad], then you're truly ignorant, because some of the best movies ever are in black and white (and for those of you who didn't know, there's actually a color version of this movie as well that you can buy at select stores)...
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on July 29, 2003
For sheer star power alone this movie can't be beat. This is one of the best WW II movies ever made. It was also one of the most accurate. Not to say some liberities were taken but overall very accurate. To me the best test of how good a movie is,
A) Can you watch it over and over
B) Are you entertained?
C) Does it make you think?
D) Do you learn something?
E) You can't wait to tell someone about the film
This movie does it all, If you like movies this one is a must have. The best testominy I can give is it is one of my son's favorite movies and he is 18. How many 18 yr olds would even sit down for a Black and White film? Buy this movie you won't regret it.
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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.
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on July 10, 2003
In short, this is a movie about the Normandy invasion of World War II. It's one of the most dramatic, action packed, glorious, moving movies ever made!!! If you want to see a movie that inspires you, see this remarkable film. The Normandy invasion was one of the most decisive battles of WW II, and one of the costliest in human lives. In this movie, you'll get moments of comedy, suspense (the edge of your seat kind), horror, pain, joy, sorrow, just about every emotion you can experience (unless of course you have no conscience). Lots of fine actors are in this film: Robert Mitchem, Rod Steiger, Henry Fonda, Sean Connery, Robert Wagner, Eddie Arnold, John Wayne, Red Buttons, Roddy Mcdowell, Richard Burton, Sal Mineo, and alot of guys I don't know the names of. I like the fact that in the movie, the German's speak in their native tongue (with subtitles of course). The French and the British troops are well represented in the film. My dad hated those bagpipes the British played, mainly because they played them almost all the time. And in the movie, they play them as they storm the beaches. This is the kind of movie that will inspire you to go out and invade YOUR own enemy!!! Annkin and the other directors did superb work in putting together this film, as well as all of those involved. In short, FLAWLESS!!!
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on June 26, 2003
The Normandy battle looks like it was shot on some little beach in NJ and the comedy is just pointless. Why try to make a joke out of this subject. The perception of the English, Scottish, and French is just ignorant. Obviously for it's time this movie was decent but to say this movie is realistic is a smack in every veterans face.
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on June 20, 2003
I liked how the longest day covered the German and Allied commands during D-Day and before the landings. I also relly liked the way the Germans spoke German. The landings on the beaches were so real it seemed as though you were landing at Omaha. If you liked this movie you would like the book D-Day June 6 1944 the Climatic Battle of WWII by Stephen E. Ambrose.
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