D-Day comes to life in rare color film, 75 years later
It was supposed to be a personal memento — but became a rare piece of D-Day history.
George Stevens climbed aboard the HMS Belfast 75 years ago to capture black-and-white recordings of the Allied troops in World War II as they traveled through Normandy, liberated Paris and fought in the Battle of the Bulge.
But all the while, the award-winning director was also shooting in color with his 16-millimeter camera for a personal video journal.
That footage — a unique glimpse into one of the most historic moments in world history — was unearthed by Stevens’ son in 1980, five years after the moviemaker’s death.
“You’ve seen it in black and white. And when you see it in color, all of a sudden it feels like today,” the son, George Stevens Jr., recently told the Associated Press. “It doesn’t seem like yesterday. And it has a much more modern and authentic feeling to it.”
Stevens felt compelled to document the war after seeing the influence of Nazi propaganda films including Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will.”
Gen. Dwight Eisenhower assigned him to lead the combat film unit — and he followed the US troops through France and across Europe as they battled the Germans.
Stevens’ son, now 87, came across the reels of color film in storage one day — and knew instantly that they were no ordinary home videos.
“I was sitting alone, and on the screen came images of a gray day and rough seas and a large ship and barrage balloons up in the sky,” Stevens Jr. recalled. “And I realized it was D-Day.”
“And I realized that my eyes were probably the first other than those who were there to see this in color,” he continued. “I’m watching this footage and seeing the men on the ship … and around the corner walks into the frame a man with a helmet and a flak jacket. It’s my 37-year-old father on the morning of D-Day.”
The son, also a filmmaker who founded the American Film Institute, used his dad’s footage in the Emmy-winning documentary “George Stevens: D-Day to Berlin.”
The elder Stevens, who died in 1975 at the age of 70, won numerous awards in his lifetime, including Oscars for “Giant” and “A Place in the Sun.”
With Post wires
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