This year's Memorial Day weekend is followed shortly by the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum has a primo movie to go along with it all that opens Friday at its fancy-pants IMAX theater: "D-Day Normandy 1944."
The 3-D film by Pascal Vuong got a nice Washington premiere on Monday night, when World War II buff/newsman Tom Brokaw moderated a panel with Vuong, National World War II Museum President Nick Mueller and Tom Mueller, a 93-year old veteran who parachuted into Normandy on the Longest Day and lived to tell the tale.
Brokaw hopes the film about "the greatest military invasion in the history of the world" will help raise awareness of just how big a deal it all was. "D-Day was a huge gamble at the time" Brokaw said to the crowd assembled Monday, which included members of Congress such as WWII veteran and Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio. "This was the biggest one of them all. There was no alternate plan," Brokaw added.
The film, which clocks in under one hour, combines dramatized invasion scenes with animation and graphics that attempt to show not just the magnitude of the invasion that helped topple the Third Reich, but also the human elements and damage inflicted on the French countryside and population. Brokaw narrates the American version, while the French version features the voice of actor Francois Cluzet.
Brokaw is not exaggerating in his description of the scope of D-Day and its effect on world history. The simple logistics of arming and siting the invasion force are explored in great detail in Rick Atkinson's "The Guns at Last Light," the conclusion of his World War II trilogy.
For a holiday weekend movie, "D-Day Normandy 1944" fits the bill.