The Greatest War Movie Ever Made, The Longest Day
The Landing at Normandy
There are so many war movies created by Hollywood that if one were to make a selection of the greatest war movie of all time, would be indeed a difficult task. However after sifting through the various movies churned out by Hollywood , the movie ‘The Longest Day’ would in the opinion of most people stand out as the greatest authentic war movie. The Longest Day was released in 1962 when the war was still afresh I the minds of the people and there were a large number of veterans who had taken part in this epic battle still alive. Now after a lapse of almost 50 years the old order that fought at the landing in Normandy is no more alive or has thinned out, yet for students of history this depiction of the Allied landing in Normandy cannot but enthuse.
The original movie released in 1962 was a black and white affair. That perhaps gives it an authenticity that is hard to describe. It is a long movie by Hollywood standards and runs close to 3 hours.. Shot originally in black and white, the movie relates the first 24 hours of the epic Allied landing on the beaches of Normandy. Popularly called D –day, this invasion remains the largest sea borne attack in military history.
The film presents an account of the first 24 hours of the battle as seen from the eyes of the various protagonists, the British, the Americans and the Germans. It is a multilingual movie and each of the protagonists speaks in his own language. Thus the dialogues are in French, German and English. Sub titles are available for a person not knowing any of these languages.
The movie is based on the book ‘The longest Day’ by Cornelius Ryun and it is reported that he received $175,000 from the producer Darryl F Zanuck for the rights to film the book. The movie depicts frame by frame the events of the first 24 hours of the battle. The Germans considered this period as the most important and were of the opinion that this period would decide victory or defeat in the war. But despite their opinion, the movie depicts that the Germans were taken by surprise.
The stars that played the roles to perfection reads like a Hollywood wish list with big names like John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, Richard Burton among others turning in stunning performances. The best role on the German side is portrayed by Werner Heinz as Field Marshal Rommel.
The direction, background score and dialogues cannot be faulted. The movie is in real terms an authentic account of the greatest invasion force assembled in history. For students of Military history it is an invaluable asset. I will vote for this as the greatest war movie on the Second World War ever, to hit the celluloid screen.