‘D-Day 3D: Normandy 1944’: a riveting, inventive retelling
The use of up-to-the-minute techniques to retell the often-told story of one of the most decisive battles of World War II makes “D-Day 3D: Normandy 1944,” opening Saturday, March 29, at IMAX: Pacific Science Center, a riveting and informative film experience.
‘D-Day 3D: Normandy 1944,’ narrated by Tom Brokaw. Directed by Pascal Vuong from a script by Vuong. 43 minutes. Rated G for general audiences. IMAX: Pacific Science Center.
With the 70th anniversary of D-Day just a few months away, and with the ranks of those Tom Brokaw so memorably hailed as the Greatest Generation inexorably dwindling, the time is right for yet another cinematic look back at one of the most decisive battles of World War II.
To a list that includes 1962’s three-hour-long black-and-white epic “The Longest Day” and Steven Spielberg’s grueling and gripping “Saving Private Ryan,” now can be added the documentary “D-Day 3D: Normandy 1944.” Shot in the IMAX format, its world premiere commercial run begins Saturday at the PACCAR IMAX Theater at the Pacific Science Center. And, appropriately enough, it’s narrated by Brokaw himself.
In a compact 43 minutes, it gives a concise but surprisingly comprehensive overview of the events leading up to the June 6, 1944, Allied invasion of Normandy. Then with clarity and an imaginative use of a variety of film techniques, the picture takes the viewer through the assault itself hour-by-hour, as Allied troops fought their way off the beaches under fire from German army defenders (particularly intense on Omaha Beach) and began the longer struggle to liberate France from the Nazis.
Writer-director Pascal Vuong, a Frenchman, uses animated battle maps, live-action re-enactments, computer-generated sequences of air attacks and naval bombardments, and colorized archival photos to tell the story. He even employs a process called sand animation in which animators manipulate individual grains of sand to, Vuong said, produce images that “express something hard, violent and crude.”
Speaking at a pre-release screening of the picture Thursday, Vuong said he tailored his “D-Day” for the target audience for IMAX productions that play at venues like Pacific Science Center. “I couldn’t show blood or too much violence for family audiences,” he said, so the stylized sand-animation sequences were used to suggest the carnage rather than bathing the scenes in gore in the manner of “Private Ryan.” Colorizing iconic black and white stills of Allied commanders like Dwight Eisenhower and British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery was another way to connect with younger viewers. To the young, Vuong said, black-and-white looks old and archaic.
The use of 3-D and other up-to-the-minute techniques to tell this often-told story make this “D-Day” a riveting and informative film experience.
Soren Andersen: firstname.lastname@example.org