Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The true glory

The True Glory (1945) is a war documentary on the overthrow of Nazi Germany, starting with D-Day and finishing with the capitulation of the German army. It was put together by directors George Kanin and Carol Reed in an effort to cover the invasion from the landing in Normandy to the taking of Berlin from the viewpoint of the common soldier. To this end, a great lot of soldiers were given photo and film cameras to record anything they see fit, with the only condition not to stage any scenes. According to Kanin (as quoted in Studs Terkel's The Good War), the recorded material amounted to ten million feet of shot film in the end.

The phrasing of the film is quite modern, with narration and scenes changing quite randomly around the whole theater of the war. It's not only American and English GIs featured, you have some French resistance fighters, Czech and Russian soldiers, female paramedics, black soldiers and so on. Being basically a still movie (except for some superimposed explosion sounds and a quity cheesy, "dramatic" orchestral score), it seems the directors decided to offset it by cutting quite fast, so you get a feeling that many of the really interesting scenes were left on the cutting room floor. You see an awful lot of soldiers marching, planes refuelled, tanks and boats moving, but the really gritty hand-to-hand combat and the carnage wrecked by artillery and bombing is hardly ever touched upon. Still, it's a great document to the war and in all its length has some fantastic shots in it.

Three parts, all on Google Video, for a total of 85 minutes.

Google Video: The True Glory Part I

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