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Abhin Kurella

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Cinematic Analysis: The Longest Day
Part A:
The movie The Longest Day is a movie with the underlying message that the only thing that comes from
war is death and chaos. The movie chronicles the invasion of Normandy by the Allied troops and gives a macro view
regarding the events of the invasion as a whole. The opening scene of the movie shows a lone soldiers helmet lying
on the beach with several tree branches and such lying around as well, indicating an incident of chaos as there are
broken branches and such everywhere, which indicate conflict. Text is also shown saying that Germany occupied
France during the fifth year of World War II. Both the image and the text establish the setting as World War II. The
movie goes on to introduce many important characters in the film which include Janine Boitard, a member of the
French Resistance and Major Werner Pluskat, the 352nd Coast Artillery Division of the German Army, the coast he
is protecting being Normandy.
The action starts to rise as a man, General Gunther Blummentritt, is shown to enter the Headquarters of
German Command in France. Another man is already there, him being Oberst Hellmuth Meyer, a German military
official. Oberst listens to a coded message with a look of worry on his face as this message is a possible signal for a
possible allied invasion that may come within 24 hours. Next, Eisenhower and other military officials all meet to
discuss the invasion and decide that the invasion will take place on that day despite the lack of ideal conditions. At
the same time a German general engages in a discussion about whether Eisenhower would put the invasion into
action on that day despite the bad weather and says that Eisenhower would not take the risk. This foreshadows an
attack that would both surprise and devastate the Germans. The action continues to rise as the Allied forces send out
coded messages over the radio to the French Resistance calling them to action. Next, a company of paratroopers are
airdropped over a bridge, this bridge being a vital military position, and they are told to hold it until relieved at all
costs. Although being deployed in secrecy, the men soon enter into heated battle with the German forces and end up
securing the bridge. At the same time French Resistance members, who have now been called to action, down
telephone wires to disrupt German military communication. Yet securing the bridge was only a beginning. To their
surprise, the German forces in a certain area see paratroopers being airdropped. Yet it turns out that these
paratroopers are only dummies and were used as a diversion from the airdrops that are going to take place, one of
these being coordinated with French Resistance members. During the diversion, two allied soldiers airdrop at a

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location near French Resistance members, where the soldiers and the resistance members detonate a bomb under a
passing German ammunition train. At the same time, paratroopers accidentally airdrop into the town of St. Mere
Eglise after overshooting their drop zones where they are decimated from the ground by German troops. The whole
scene is shown through the eyes of a single paratrooper who gets stuck on the bell tower. He sees in front of him the
death that came as a result of war and sees for himself that death and chaos are the true fruits of war. The action
further rises as the Fuhrer, Hitler, denies for tank support to be sent out to defend France from invasion as he
believes that the paratroopers are nothing to worry about. General Blummentritt then goes on a furious rampage
about how Germany will lose the war, foreshadowing a devastation for Germany when the invasion occurs.
The climax begins as Major Werner Pluskat, the major in command at Normandy, scans the coast one last
time after a long night, only to see, to his surprise, around five thousand Allied ships heading right towards him. The
action continues as the whole fleet opens fire on the bay of Normandy. A man in his house near the bay
enthusiastically waves his flag, screaming praises of his country. At the same time, Major Pluskat fights for his life
in his bunker on Normandy while the beach is battered by artillery fire. The allied forces then land on Omaha Beach
only to be met by artillery fire and bullets themselves, and only a few minutes later, new soldiers then land on Utah
Beach. Allied troops then land on Sword Beach where they are shown to be mowed down by machine guns soon
after. The scene shows the death and chaos of war as it shows men continuously being mowed down by machine
guns and the beach being littered with bodies. New Allied soldiers then land at Pointe du Hoc, a stretch of cliffs on
the bay. The scene shows the men scaling the cliffs with ladders and grappling hooks while being shot at from
above. A group of soldiers finally scale the cliff all of the way to the bunker they had aimed to take all along only to
find that there is nothing there. They walk themselves right into a trap as they are soon met by heavy machine gun
fire. The climax continues as French forces storm the town of Ouistreham and are soon met with heavy fire. In a
valiant effort to find a tank to take on the German forces who are decimating his invading french forces, the
commander of the French forces fights for his life while looking for the tank. Although he does not find one, he
holes in a building while a group of nuns come and tell him that they will help tend the wounded. Soon, a tank
comes and destroys the casino that the Germans are using as their base. The French forces storm the casino and take
the Germans as prisoners. Yet on Omaha Beach, the Americans are shown to still be hung up on the beach having
not penetrated the cement wall separating them and the Germans. Although his fellow officer wants to radio the

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ships to take the forces back, the man in charge, Brigadier General Norman Cota, refuses. He tells him to find
torpedos, bazookas, and any heavy weapon to try to charge up the hill once more and take out the German guns. At
the same time, the town of St. Mere Eglise is now occupied by the forces of American Lt. Colonel Benjamin
Vandervoot. The bodies of the slaughtered paratroopers who did not make it to the ground still hang from the trees.
The focus then shifts once again towards Omaha Beach. Brigadier General Norman Cota tells a lieutenant to gather
all of the firepower he has and blow a hole through the cement wall that is keeping them from the Germans. While
fighting for their lives, the lieutenant and his men succeed in blowing a hole through the wall, although the
lieutenant dies in the process. The American forces storm the wall towards the German enemy. At the same time, the
Germans are shown to be burning papers, presumably classified information.
The action falls as a man sees a German whose body is strewn across a fence. Not knowing whether he is
dead or not, he slowly walks towards him and turns him over. Suddenly, he hears a voice telling him that the man is
dead, the voice being that of a fellow Allied soldier. The Allied soldier asks the man for a cigarette and tells him that
he was a paratrooper who was shot down and that his leg is split open. They engage in a conversation and finally the
injured allied soldier says, Its funny. Hes dead, Im crippled, and youre lost. I suppose its always like that, I
mean war, highlighting the fact that the only thing that comes out of war is the devastation or demise of men. The
movie ends with a scene of Omaha Beach. The Germans have been overrun and the Americans have become
victorious. In the background, soldiers are seen leisurely walking up the beach. In the foreground, Brigadier General
Norman Cota is shown looking across towards the water. He then simply takes a cigar from his pocket, gets in a car,
and tells the driver to take him up to the top of the hill. The movie ends there with sounds of patriotic music playing
in the background.

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Part B:
The movie The Longest Day is one of the most heralded war movies of all time. At the time the movie was
made, being 1962, the movie held great content and great historical significance and still does so to this day. This
movie created an awareness for and glorified the events that unfolded during the invasion of Normandy (Jackson).
Along with boasting great significance for its time and beyond, it also displays some significant historical aspects of
American society, but like any other movie, it also boasts its own biases and inaccuracies as well. The movie The
Longest Day is a movie that boasts great significant historical aspects of American society, but also great amounts of
bias and inaccuracy as well.
There are many historically significant aspects of American society portrayed in the film The Longest Day.
Yet without an understanding of the setting of this film, the historically significant aspects of American society that
are portrayed cannot be understood. This movie is set in the year 1944 during the invasion of Normandy, also known
as D-Day. The movie gives the audience an overarching focus regarding the events of the invasion, detailing it from
beginning to end in an intriguing story that engages them as well. The fact that the movie is set during the invasion
of Normandy is shown by the movie posters for the film. On one of the posters, there is a quote by Field Marshall
Erwin Rommel, who is a character in the movie, that says, The first twenty-four hours of the invasion for the

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Allies as well as Germany, it will be The Longest Day (The Longest Day (1962)). The same poster also states that
the movie is based off of the book by Cornelius Ryan, The Longest Day: 6 June 1944 D-Day, a book that details the
events at the invasion of Normandy. With the historical setting, many significant aspects of American society are
also portrayed. One of these aspects is the prominence of gambling at the time, especially among soldiers. In one
scene, a soldier is shown gambling with his fellow soldiers in a circle. He ends up losing his money and asking
others to lend him some so he can gamble some more. He immediately goes to another gambling circle that is one of
many set up among the hundreds of soldiers in the area. This scene shows gambling as an important aspect of
American society because it shows it as an American pastime, especially for the soldiers. In fact, it was as early as
1929, over 20 years before America's entrance into World War II, that the anti gambling mood changed as
tremendous financial distress gripped the country (History of Gambling in the United States). Another significant
aspect of American society portrayed is the quality of life at the time period for Americans at home. In one scene, an
American soldier is shown complaining in a food line due to the quality of the food which he sees as bad. Although
a small detail in the movie, this little dialogue shows the quality of life that Americans had back at home. Although
many probably had it rough as well back at home, they had good enough food to complain about how bad the food
was on the front while so many people in Europe were starving and ready to eat anything given to them. In the end,
there are many historically significant aspects of American society portrayed in this movie.
Yet along with boasting an array of accurate aspects of American society significant to the time period, the
movie The Longest Day also has its share of inaccuracy. The major inaccuracy of the movie comes with the watering
down of the intensity of the beach landings. The movie lacks, the horrendous roar of artillery and machine gun fire
that would have been both deafening and overwhelming (Jackson). The movie also fails to show the blood, gore,
and horror that was present during the invasion (Jackson). The movie also waters down the brutality of the actual
landings that occurred. In fact, in many instances, the water was high enough for the men landing to drown; some
did in fact drown because they were weighed down with equipment, and others were just too tired to run for cover
by the time they reached the beach (Jackson), something which is not shown in the movie. All in all, this film does
have its fair share of inaccuracy.
Along with its inaccuracy, this movie also has its share of bias as well. This bias is mainly aimed at the
Germans. For example, during the movie, there are various scenes that show German officials lounging around and

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playing cards. One such scene occurs after a German military official intercepts coded messages for the French
resistance. The scene shows a General and his fellow high ranking officials drinking and lounging around. This
conveys a lack of care for the soldiers and the war as they just lounge around despite the possibility of an invasion
by the Allied Forces. In fact, after hearing that the invasion would probably happen in the next 24 hours, the general
simply tells the man to put the fifteenth army on alert, dismisses him, and goes back to playing his game with his
fellows. This is also shown during the second scene of the movie during which German forces in a car chase down a
man who is running away from them. They simply shoot him down and one of the officers steps down and just takes
his leather bag without a care. He does not show any sign of guilt for shooting the man down, but simply takes his
things as if it did not matter that he just killed a man. It puts him in the bad light of a savage for seeming to have no
regard for human life. Another scene towards the beginning shows this bias towards the Germans as it shows a
group of German soldiers forcefully nudging along two bloody Frenchmen. This shows a bias against the Germans
as it shows them as being savages who savagely beat their victims. Although the Allied forces probably beat their
prisoners too, they are not shown to do anything of the like during the movie. Along with its inaccuracy, this movie
also boasts is fair share of bias as well.
All in all, the movie The Longest Day is a movie of polar opposites. For one, it displays great amounts of
accuracy in terms of the significant aspects of American society at the time, but it also boasts its own share of
historical inaccuracy and bias. Yet the fact remains that this movie brought to Americas attention an event that
should always be remembered for as long as this country stands on this Earth. It brought to attention to the people of
this country the sacrifice and danger that the soldiers went through when the stepped foot on Normandy on Tuesday,
June 6, 1944.

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Part C:

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Green Group
Discuss how various cinematographic techniques are used to increase the viewers awareness of setting, characters
or plot development.
There are many different cinematographic techniques that are used in the movie The Longest Day to
increase the viewers awareness of the characters, setting, or plot development. One technique that is used is hard
light. One example is during the scene when the Allied forces and the man from the French resistance are hiding by
the train tracks from German soldiers. The hard light in this scene is used to further develop the plot. The use of this
hard light creates shadows which create suspense as to what is about to happen next. The shadows create a sense of
hiding and danger which in turn creates suspense about the following events that will unfold. Another technique that
is used is the extreme close up. This technique is used to develop the characters in the scene where paratroopers
descend into the town of St. Mere Eglise after overshooting their drop zones. This scene is shown through the eyes
of a single paratrooper who gets stuck on top of a bell tower away from the slaughter of his fellow men that is
happening below, and at the end of the scene, an extreme close up shot is taken of just his eyes, which show
emotions of both fear and despair. One more technique that is used during the movie is the long shot. This
cinematographic technique is used during the scene where two Luftwaffe airmen shoot down at men on the beaches,
to bring awareness to the setting. The long shot shows the Luftwaffe men flying over hundreds of already dead
bodies. This gives the audience an awareness of the setting because it gives them an idea about how deadly and
dangerous the beaches were on that day due to the fact that there were so many dead bodies lying there on those
beaches. So all in all, there are many different cinematographic techniques that are used in the movie The Longest
Day to either increase the viewers awareness of the characters, setting, or plot development.

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Works Cited
"History of Gambling in the United States." History of Gambling in the United States. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2015.
"The Longest Day (1962)." BFI. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2015. <http://explore.bfi.org.uk/4ce2b6af209c4>.
"The Longest Day." The Longest Day. Stephen F. Austin State University, n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2015.