First 35 minutes very boring but after that it picks up, dears. The plot was predictable (young everyman called up, trained by idiots, reduced to a cipher & sacrificed pointlessly on D-Day) & the lead was ridiculously middle-class. However, the archive footage was amazing and the way the new sequences were shot with old 1930s lenses was v. clever and the joins almost seamless. Worth seeing for its technical skill.
A great technical achievement and a unique take on a soldiers life. It's focus on the mundane reminds one that the "excitement" of war is but a flash compared to the endless time allowed for contemplation, fear, confusion, and the myriad other emotions that a soldier must face in between facing bullets.
"A year after Overlord came out, John Alcott won a cinematography Oscar for Barry Lyndon. Kubrick asked Alcott to bring me in for a meeting as he had just seen Overlord. We talked mechanics. He was interested in the archive, the lenses and how we blended the footage. At the end he said, You know Stu, I've got one problem with the film... It's an hour and a half too short." (Stuart Cooper)
Interesting combination of historical footage with original character-based scenes; meshing is not always clean. Bootcamp scenes remind of Full Metal Jacket. Surreal scenes are a highlight. Romance subplot somewhat frivolous. Some beautiful shots and score. Ultimately just too boring: long, inexplicable segments of documentary shots that appear rather randomly throughout, rather than in a tight, controlled manner
"I hate this war" one of the characters says early in the film. "This is a bloody nightmare" the same character says, later on, as his regiment waits to storm the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. Interspersing archival war footage, this film captures the nightmare of war, and the machine of it and the mundanity of it.
This film seamlessly interspersed contemporary shots with archived footage. It's beautiful and tragic. This is why it's painful, gut-wrenching, and dramatic -- because it happened, and a lot of the footage is real. While this film is fictional, the narrative is non-fiction to people who have sacrificed their lives for freedom.