News / USA

Color Footage Offers Rare Insight into D-Day Invasion

Rare Color Footage of D-Day Invasion Releasedi
X
June 04, 2014 4:09 AM
Most of the documentary footage of the 1944 Allied invasion in Normandy, better known as D-Day, was shot on black and white film, by a group of Army cinematographers led by the late Hollywood director, George Stevens. But Stevens was also filming a personal diary, using at that time still rare color film. A documentary using his color images gives a new dimension to the campaign to drive Nazi forces from France. VOA’s George Putic reports.
George Putic
Most of the documentary footage of the 1944 Allied invasion in Normandy, better known as D-Day, was shot on black and white film by a group of Army cinematographers led by the late Hollywood director George Stevens.

But Stevens was also filming a personal diary, using color film, which at that time was still rare. A documentary using his color images gives a new dimension to the campaign to drive Nazi forces from France.
 
At dawn, June 6, 1944, a group of American cinematographers aboard the British light cruiser HMS Belfast was getting ready to film the opening salvos of the invasion.
 
Their leader, Hollywood director George Stevens, 37, was also filming, but with his personal 16-millimeter camera, using Kodachrome color film.
 
Stevens developed but never used his footage. It was found many decades later by his son, George Stevens Jr., also a film director, who restored it and produced a stunning documentary in 1994, the 50th anniversary of the invasion.
 
Thanks to his father, we can now see the color of the sky, the sea, soldiers’ uniforms, smoke from the big ships' guns and even the ships’ camouflage paint.
 
“I had this feeling that my eyes were the first eyes that hadn't been there who were seeing this day in color, and I watched this film unfold and on this ship - and all of these men with their flak jackets and anticipation of this day,” said Stevens.
 
The color film also brings the scenes of destroyed French towns to life, with French citizens greeting Allied soldiers.
 
The footage contains rare color shots of the liberation of Paris and French resistance leader and later president, Charles De Gaulle.
 
Stevens was fascinated with the faces of young French girls cheering the American soldiers.
 
There are also shots of U.S. General George Patton, with his pearl-encrusted revolver, and the British forces commander, General Bernard Montgomery. German war prisoners seem almost relieved that they survived the carnage.
 
“It is the greatest body of color film, and World War II was a black-and-white war. That's how we see it. That's how we saw it,” said Stevens.
 
The allied soldiers soon were preparing behind enemy’s lines, some flying in gliders decorated with graffiti typical of that time.
 
Upon entering Germany with Allied forces, Stevens did not cringe from filming the horror of Nazi concentration camps, with piles of emaciated human bodies next to still burning crematoriums, having a strong sense that those colors too should be preserved for later generations.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mojo from: Lafayette, IN USA
June 06, 2014 4:57 PM
Historians and Patton's many fans will note that the reason for the late General's contempt for the news media is still alive and well; they were dual, IVORY handled pistols, and as the general himself later noted, "...only a New Orleans pimp would equip himself in such a gaudy fashion."

by: Mark from: Virginia
June 04, 2014 6:32 AM
in this time of uncertainty and chaos, it is powerful reminders like these that we should be learning from. While it is nice to have re-enactments and memorials honoring those involved, it is the reason WHY they were there and WHY there were doing what they had to, that we should take the greatest lesson(s) from.

Between 2500 and 4900 (estimates only, there is still no 'official' number and probably never will be) Americans died that single day, and an estimated 2700 British and Canadian soldiers also perished. We gloss over such numbers now, having been calloused over years of media reporting on other wars (Vietnam, First Gulf War, War on Terror, etc.) but remember that those numbers represent brothers, sons, fathers of families back home; wives who have lost their husbands, parents who lost their sons, children now fatherless.

In just one day, June 6, 1944

In less than 24 hours.

Lest we forget.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs