Wednesday, 13 May 2009

first look: overlord

"Unlike Saving Private Ryan and other dramatizations based on D-Day, Overlord is an intimate film, one that focuses closely on Tom Beddoes (Brian Stirner), who enters the British army, goes through basic training and is one of the first ashore on D-Day. Beddoes is not a macho hero but a quiet, nice boy, who worries about his cocker spaniel and takes along David Copperfield when he goes off to war." - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

To coincide with the 65th anniversary of D-Day, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) is screening the restored 35mm print of Stuart Cooper's critically acclaimed Overlord as part of First Look this June.

Originally released in 1975 and winner of Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival that year, Overlord remains an original meditation on war, standing apart from any other war film ever made. Shot by legendary cinematographer John Alcott (Barry Lyndon, The Shining), Overlord seamlessly combines a fictionalised narrative with startling documentary footage of one British soldier's journey from basic training to the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

ACMI Film Curator Kristy Matheson says "Watching Overlord for the first time was an absolute revelation. It is very exciting that Melbourne audiences will have the chance to revisit or discover this extraordinary cinema classic on the big screen at ACMI. It is the combination of Stuart Cooper's seamless amalgamation of a fictional narrative and archival footage; John Alcott's spectacular cinematography; and Jonathan Gili's hypnotic editing that make Overlord one extraordinary cinema experience." 

Established film producer James Quinn conceived of creating a documentary whilst he was working as a Museum Trustee at the Imperial War Museum Film Archive in London in 1975. He proposed the project to rising star filmmaker Stuart Cooper, whose film Little Malcolm won the Silver Bear in 1974, and together they looked at 3,000 hours of archival footage from 20,000 feet of film stock in storage. Together Cooper and Quinn decided to change tacks and make a feature film that would interweave the fictional story of a young soldier, training to participate in the D-Day landings using footage from the War Museum archive.

Stanley Kubrick said the only problem with Overlord was that it was "an hour-and-half too short". Having more recently screened at Telluride Film Festival and Seattle International Film Festival to packed audiences lauding it as a lost masterpiece, Melbourne audiences will have the opportunity to experience this elegiac piece of cinema this June. Overlord screens daily at ACMI from Thursday 11 until Sunday 14 June.  For more information

"A war film like no other, a sublime and shattering cinematic experience" ICA
"A must-see classic" New York Magazine
"Critically hailed but rarely seen" Mike Snider, USA Today
**** Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
**** "Overlord" combines its newsreel and fictional footage so effectively that it has a greater impact than all fiction, or all documentary, could have achieved". Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times
 "Overlord deserves to join the pantheon of essential World War II combat movies" A. O. Scott, New York Times

Official movie site:
Further Reading:

Stuart Cooper, 83mins, UK, 1975, 35mm, B&W Courtesy: Stuart Cooper & Janus Films

Further information

Lior Opat
Communications Coordinator
[direct phone] 61 3 8663 2475 [fax] 61 3 8663 2498 [mobile] 0434 603 655
[postal address] PO Box 14, Flinders Lane VIC 8009, Australia

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