65th Anniversary of the Normandy Invasion
“The Americans on D-Day” is a compact and concise examination of the United States‘ part in the June 6, 1945, Allied invasion ofNormandy.
Considering the enormity of the actual D-Day undertaking it might sound hopeless to present a comprehensive account in a film with a running time of 44 minutes, but producer-director Richard Lanni has come up with a well organized documentary that provides a clear outline of the events of D-Day, punctuated along the way with somewhat more detailed accounts of specific moments in the battle that turned the tide of World War II in Europe.
The film benefits immensely from the presence of Ellwood von Seibold as host-narrator-tour guide. Donning authentic military uniform and accessories – down to the “pineapple” style hand grenade hanging from his utility webbing – von Seibold shares a wealth of knowledge on the subject, presenting it with an elegance that provides an effective counterpoint to the brutality that is, after all, at the center of the D-Day story.
“The Americans on D-Day” strikes a tone appropriate to the nature of D-Day, offering a matter-of-fact account that acknowledges the powerful emotional component of its subject matter while stopping short of romanticizing or idealizing an event that was as bloody and brutal as it was essential to the Allies’ success in Europe.
The production deftly blends archival footage and stills with contemporary footage. Early on, we see black-and-white images ofU.S. forces, including Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower – as we hear audio of Ike’s sendoff to the D-Day forces.
“You are about to embark upon a great crusade,” he tells them. “The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. You will bring about the destruction of the German war machine.
“We will accept nothing less than full victory”
The film then goes on to function as a battlefield tour, offering close-ups of German fortifications along the beaches of Normandy, arms – including the MG-42, a heavy machine gun that could fired upwards of 1,200 rounds per minute – and bridges and structures that played key roles in the Allie invasion.
Interviews with both U.S. and German veterans of the operation provide further personal insight into the significance of D-Day and its human toll.
Many of the images presented in “The Americans on D-Day” will be familiar to those who have seen the feature film “Saving Private Ryan,” the TV miniseries “Band of Brothers,” or any number of other filmed projects that touch on D-Day.
The DVD package has extras including the film’s trailer, a making-of feature, a segment on weapons training, another on uniforms and a collection of stills.
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