Hollywood Films Honoring D-Day Landings

In honor of the recent commemoration of the D-Day Landings 70th anniversary, here are a few Hollywood films and a game honoring the said event.

Wars has been a subject of fascination by Hollywood, the many Hollywood films tackling World War I, World War II and the many wars in between and after are a proof of that. The Normandy Landings (also known as D-Day Landings) – the biggest seaborne invasion in the whole history – is among the points of interest in these Hollywood films.

So, in honor of the recent commemoration of this main WWII event, The Guardian does an enumeration of some of the Hollywood films paying tribute to this part of history which led to the restoration of the French Republic and helped greatly in the Allies’ win in WWII.

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

So many movie critics hail Saving Privater Ryan as the top of all Hollywood films when it comes to depicting the D-Day Landings. The 1998 blockbuster, a masterpiece of Steven Spielberg, holds the highest degree of accuracy when it came to showing what really happened during the invasion.

When Spielberg was filming the movie, he hired veteran and critic Paul Fussell and WWII historian Stephen Ambrose as the film’s consultants. He employed dozens of barrels of fake blood just so he could turn seawater red like how it was during the D-Day Landings. He even hired amputees to make the scenes more realistic.

When the movie was shown, it was reported that veterans who participated in the D-Day Landings walked out on it. The reason? It stirred so many memories they had buried inside them for years.

However, Saving Private Ryan was far from a perfect representation of the D-Day Landings. Moviegoers pointed out how the Germans’ positions were too fortified in it, how the machine gun fires were too sustained, how there were too many anti-tank hedgehogs in the movie, how the aircraft were missing, how the invading Allies were too grouped together and how the water was too blue in spite of the tones of fake blood dumped into it.

Nevertheless, despite its failings, it did raise the expectations on war films higher due to its authenticity.


The Longest Day (1962)

Like Saving Private Ryan, this classic war movie directed by Darryl F. Zanuck and starred John Wayne as well as Robert Mitchum employed several Allied and Axis military consultants to make it a close depiction of the days leading to and the actual D-Day Landings.

This clip from the war film shows the taking of Pointe de Huc:

The Americanization of Emily (1964)

This vintage dramedy mixes love and action in depicting a fictitious story with a real background, the D-Day Landings. It starred Julie Andrews and James Garner in the lead roles.

Overlord (1975)

This 1975 war film (Operation Overlord being another name for the D-Day Landings), its story centered around a young soldier’s contemplation as he got part of the war and his visions about his death.

The Big Red One (1980)

Written and directed by WWII veteran Samuel Fuller, this war film’s story is closely related to his service with the 1st Infantry Division which was nicknamed so because of the big red number 1 on the division’s shoulder patch.

One of its most unforgettable features was a scene inspired from the D-Day Landings with soldiers crawling on shallow water accompanied by the film’s haunting words – the real glory of war — is surviving.

Call of Duty 2: Big Red One (2005)

According to a Wiki page dedicated to this online game, over 11 different Call of Duty scenes are inspired from the D-Day Landings. In this particular game, the players starts with a scene from a soldier’s standpoint in an invading boat with binoculars used to spot positions of German machine guns. The scene then moves to the beach and to more hostile locations.

Heziel Pitogo

Heziel Pitogo is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE