July 1, 2014 in War | Permalink


July 1, 2014 in War | Permalink


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September 2, 2012 in War | Permalink | Comments (0)


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July 17, 2012 in War | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


D-day From the Inside Out

By Cole Smithey

Overlord_2 "D-Day, June 6, 1944" is as much a part of "Overlord’s" enigmatic title as the Allied invasion code name to which it refers. Expatriate American filmmaker Stuart Cooper drew from over three thousand hours worth of archival World War II footage from the Imperial War Museum to blend with his own separately shot narrative to create a one-of-a-kind story structure about the journey of an everyman British soldier named Tom (Brian Stirner). Using historic war clips filmed during the exact time period leading up to the D-Day climax of the movie, Cooper seamlessly interweaves Tom’s personal story with close attention to every detail of costume, atmosphere and behavior.

The strength of "Overlord" (1975) is Cooper’s articulate command of cinema language in choosing specific images to buffer Tom’s ongoing inner dialogue of flashbacks and dreamscapes. Renowned war photographer Robert Capa’s famous photo of a Spanish Civil War loyalist soldier falling at the moment of being shot informs Cooper’s opening image of a similar blurry premonition that haunts Tom up to his arrival on France’s Red Beach. Stanley Kubrick’s devoted cinematographer John Alcott used period-correct German lenses to match sequences of men fighting fires in the streets of London, aerial bombing raids, training films and a host of other scenes captured by various sources.

When Tom writes in a letter that "the war machine keeps growing, and I am getting smaller and smaller," we understand what he intuitively realizes because we are witnessing it from the outside. It would be oversimplifying to say that "Overlord" is a "meditation" on the reality of war or that it is an outright anti-war film. It is a live action essay of the raw physical reality of one of the most significant moments in world history told from the recesses of a soldier’s mind and from a manifold vantagepoint that he cannot imagine.

Apart from the film’s restored high-definition digital transfer (supervised by Stuart Cooper), special features include an articulate commentary track with director Stuart Cooper and actor Brian Stirner wherein the two men discuss essential elements of how the film was made and their particular associations with its unique vernacular.

"Mining the Archive" is a featurette with Imperial War Museum film archivists Roger Smither and Anne Fleming discussing Stuart Cooper’s use of the museum’s footage. In the "Soldier’s Journals" segment, Brian Stirner reads excerpts from the journals of two D-day soldiers whose diaries informed the writing of the film. The complete 1941 short propaganda film "Germany Calling" (edited by Charles A. Ridley) is included, as is "Cameramen at War," a 1943 British Ministry of Information tribute to newsreel and service film unit cameramen. Lastly, Stuart Cooper’s impressionistic 1969 short film "A Test of Violence," about the work of Spanish painter Juan Genoves gives a glimpse of how Stuart Cooper won the hearts of the Imperial War Museum allowing him to make "Overlord."

Aspect ratio is 1.66:1, with sound processed in monaural. (Movie: A / DVD features: A) (The Criterion Collection)

July 3, 2007 in War | Permalink


Hit and miss director Joel Schumacher ("Phone Booth") proves that he's capable of great work with a gritty anti-war movie featuring largely unknown actors; it was Colin Farrell's big break. Set in the Army's Fort Polk Boot Camp during the waning days of the Viet Nam war, the story follows the experiences of Bozz (Farrell) as the most problematic and resentful soldier you've ever seen.
Cinematographer Matthew Libatique ("Requiem For A Dream") captures the raw immediacy of Ross Klavan's fact-based script. "Tigerland" broke the mold for what a war movie could be, and was shot entirely on 16mm film. Features include an in-depth audio commentary by Joel Schumacher, Colin Farrell's energetic audition reels, a short making-of featurette, theatrical trailer, and English and Spanish subtitles. Aspect ratio is anamorphic widescreen 1.85.1. Robust sound reproduction is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. (Movie - Five Stars, DVD Features - Five Stars) Rated R 127 mins. (20th Century Fox)

January 11, 2005 in War | Permalink