The BBC's contribution to an international 60th anniversary commemoration of the D-Day landings takes most of its cues from the success of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (1998) and BAND OF BROTHERS (2001), though Richard Dale's ambitious film rings the changes by combining documentary interviews with veterans of the conflict and dramatized reconstructions of events surrounding the Normandy landings. Andrew Bampfield's script emphasizes the petty bureaucracy which frustrated the efforts of front-line Germans, all of whom anticipated a large-scale invasion but were unable to equip themselves against such an eventuality because of Hitler's obsession with the ongoing conflict in Russia. Much is also made of a clever subterfuge in which the Allies managed to convince German authorities that the initial D-Day landings were little more than a diversion, the precursor of a much larger invasion.
The testimony of real-life survivors adds poignancy to the drama, especially during the film's closing stretch, when the toll on all sides becomes vividly clear. Few of the battle scenes are as visceral as those depicted in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, but Dale and his production team work small miracles on a tenth of that film's budget, merging CGI and in-camera effects with near-seamless integrity. The documentary footage is directed by Kim Bour, Pamela Gordon and Sally Weale.
(English, German and French soundtrack)
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