Overlord [Criterion Collection] [DVD] [1975]

Stuart Cooper's ambitious and powerful account of an ordinary British soldier training for the June 1944 D-Day landing (which skillfully incorporates a wealth of historical footage shot during the war) comes to DVD in excellent form in this release from the Criterion Collection. Overlord has been transferred to disc in its original widescreen aspect ratio of 1.66:1, letterboxed on conventional television screens and enhanced for 16x9 playback on anamorphic monitors. The naturalistic black and white images of John Alcott's camera work (as well as the well-preserved archival footage) has been well served on this disc, and the subtle but artful sound mix (mastered in Dolby Digital Mono) is equally impressive. The dialogue is in English, with optional English subtitles but no multiple language options. Criterion have added a number of relevant bonus materials for this edition, including a commentary track from director Cooper and star Brian Stirner (who talk about how the film was made and the use of vintage war footage), and on-screen interviews with archivists from the Imperial War Museum, who discuss the use of archival film in the picture and the circumstances under which it was shot. The disc also features a period documentary by Len Lye on cameramen on the battlefield, the famous British gag reel in which Hitler and his high-ranking associates appear to be dancing in time to the UK ballroom favorite "The Lambeth Walk" (which also appears in Overlord), an appreciation by Stuart Cooper of the D-Day photography of Robert Capa and how it influenced Overlord, an early Cooper short A Test Of Violence, the original theatrical trailer for Overlord, and readings by Stirner from the journals of two British soldiers who served in World War II. Finally, the handsome booklet included with this disc features an appreciation from Film Comment contributing editor Kent Jones, an essay on the Imperial War Museum's film archives, and excerpts from a novelization of the film's screenplay. Given the relative obscurity of Overlord in the United States, it's surprising that Criterion have lavished such attention on this disc, but the film certainly merits the effort, and those with an interest in war films ought to give it a look.
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Overview

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Stuart Cooper
  • Audio commentary featuring Cooper and actor Brian Stirner
  • Mining the Archive, a new video featuring Imperial War Museum filmarchivists detailing the war footage used in the film
  • Capa Influences Cooper, a new photo essay featuring Cooper on photographer Robert Capa
  • A Test of Violence (1969), Cooper's short film about Spanish artish Juan Genovés
  • Cameramen at War, the British Ministry of Information's 1943 film tribute to newsreel and service film unit cameramen
  • Germany Calling, a 1941 British Ministry of Information propaganda film, clips of which appear in Overlord
  • Journals from two D-day soldiers, read by Brian Stirner
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Plus: A new essay by critic Kent Jones, a short history of the Imperial War Museum, and excerpts form the Overlord novelization, by Cooper and Christopher Hudson

Synopsis

Overlord
Generous doses of newsreel footage highlight this British wartime drama. Tom (Brian Stirner) is a typical 18-year-old Briton who goes into military service early in 1944. The film follows the protagonist through the rigors of training and the shock of his first battle. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

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    Brian Stirner - Tom
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    Davyd Harries - Jack
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    Nicholas Ball - Arthur
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    Julie Neesam - Girl
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    Sam Sewell - Trained Soldier
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