Published on July 23rd, 2007 | by Chris1
From across the pond comes a little-known film called Overlord, which of course was the code name for the June 6, 1944 D-Day invasion.
This film really is a hidden gem. Shot completely in black and white, and brilliantly intermixed with a ton of documentary footage from the Imperial War Museum's archives, Overlord is a surprising bit of experimental film making.
The story follows one Thomas Beddows as he joins up for the Army in '44. He's shuffled around in the pre-invasion buildup, until he finally disembarks across the channel. Unfortunately, that's where the story ends.
Overlord combined the aforementioned archival footage in such a way as to be nearly seamless. The movie's original footage was shot (or at least appears to be) in a similar style and with similar cameras and film as would have been for the era.
The only drawback to Overlord is that at times, especially towards the end, it gets a bit too arty-film-school for its own good. There are a couple scenes which stand out in this respect, one being right at the end where he daydreams about the girl he met only once preparing his corpse in some bizarre ritual.... Yeah, stuff like that.
If you overlook those moments, you really find yourself admiring this film. As one of the commentators in the DVD's special features said, you find yourself marvelling at the accidental beauty of the stock footage, only to be reminded, usually by that same footage just how horrible it all really is.
If you happen to come across this DVD, be sure to get into the special features section, as there is an entire "episode" which goes into where a lot of this footage actually comes from, and the people behind it. I highly recommend checking that out.
Of note in this film, also, is a few rare glimpses at some of the British experimental beach invasion equipment, including the chain-flinging minesweeper tank, the "rolling carpet" tank, and a look at the failed "rocket wheel" (I forget the longish proper name for it) device which was designed to launch a high explosive charge across the water into the German's concrete beach defenses.
What could have been an absolutely brilliant film though, becomes a merely brilliant work due to the arty intrusions, so I give Overlord an eight.... Check this one out.
Overlord (The Criterion Collection)
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To borrow a phrase from Film Comment editor-at-large Kent Jones, "unjustly forgotten and now happily resurrected" is the best way to describe Criterion's superb DVD release of Stuart Cooper's Overlord...
DVD InformationBinding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Original Release Date:
- Brian Stirner
- Davyd Harries
- Nicholas Ball
- Julie Neesam
- Sam Sewell
Summary: What could have been an absolutely brilliant film though, becomes a merely brilliant work due to the arty intrusions, so I give Overlord an eight.... Check this one out.