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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Longest Day (released in 1962) - starring John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Henry Fonda, Robert Ryan, Sean Connery and many more - the attack on Normandy

What can you say about a war which killed and robbed the young men of their most valued possession, their future? The Longest Day is the story about that day where men and women gave their lives for peace. It tells you about the intrigues, planning, objectives, military strikes which leads to the ultimate Normandy landings to defeat the Germans.
Longest day is adapted from the book by Cornelius Ryan who did the screen play for the movie. Directed by a series of directors like Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, Bernhard Wicki and Darryl F Zanuck, the movie boasts of a stellar cast of John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Henry Fonda, Robert Ryan, Sean Connery, Rod Steiger, Mel Ferrer, Robert Wagner, Eddie Albert, Edmond O'Brien, Richard Burton, Kenneth More, Peter Lawford, George Segal, Richard Todd, Red Buttons, John Gregson, Leslie Phillips, and many more.
The opening scene of the film shows us the young soldiers indulging in a play of cards and the camera pans to reveal the large number of them concentrated in the barracks ready for the fighting. Then you can see the German soldiers and officers debating the possibility of the attack. Many Germans do not anticipate the attack on Normandy. Then comes the scene where a German soldier distributing tea to the officers looks up to the horizon seeing almost five thousand ships and just gasps. And then the ships start firing.

The Paratroopers are airdropped into the enemy territory with of them stuck on a steeple forced to watch the battle from above. Long shots of French troops running in to battle with German planes mowing them down is one cinematic spectacle. There are real poignant situations where allied and German troops march side by side with out even knowing and the murdered and wounded in the streets of Normandy helped by the locals.
This movie also shows the German point of view, with their war preparedness as well as their Bureaucratic wrangles and indecisiveness. The Germans expecting an attack on Calais (Hitler was expecting an attack there based on a skilled program of deception), are caught unawares at Normandy. The film depicts the desperation of German officers like Rommel who understands that the war is fought and won on the beaches.
All the officers like General Eisenhower, Theodore Roosevelt Jr, Norman Cota, John Howard and all soldiers are almost accurately pictured. Another interesting feature is that all the soldiers speak their own mother tongue which is delivered to the audience through subtitles. I feel that this is more of an anti-war film because it does not show the battle but the men who sacrifice a lot through battle. At the end of the movie you are overcome with respect for the dead irrespective of the nationality for they did what you wouldn't do.
This movie is shot entirely in black and white to give you the stark picture of the war. It was one of the box office successes too. It won the Oscars for best cinematography and special effects. Also nominated for 5 other awards including the best picture it has raked up numerous other awards too. See it for the men who fought for to keep civilization from going under the rule of tyranny.

The Longest Day (released in 1962) - starring John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Henry Fonda, Robert Ryan, Sean Connery and many more - the attack on Normandy

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