Compare and contrast the media techniques used to portray the D-day landings

The D-day landings were the turning point in WW2 for the Allied forces; the Allies attacked Normandy, as they made the Germans think they would land at Calais. The landings started June 6th 1944, the allies has chosen which forces would attack which beach, the British would attack beaches Gold and Sword, the Americans would attack Utah and Omaha and the Canadians would attack Juno. 3 million troops crossed the channel onto Normandy, not all of these were on D-day, on D-day there was 162,115 soldiers crossing onto Normandy, 73,000 were American, 21,400 were Canadian and 67,715 were British.There were 11,590 aircraft that would support the landing troops. The troops got across the channel by 1213 naval combat ships, 736 ancillary craft and 864 merchant vessels. They got onto the beaches using 4126 landing craft. The brutality during the landings was very fierce; in the case of The Longest Day the fighting is very different to the actual war. There are no horrific deaths, whereas in Saving Private Ryan, Steven Spielberg aims for verisimilitude.In the opening sequences of The Longest Day it starts with the German soldiers manning their defences, an American general who is overseeing the operation, a French fleet and then naval ships which open fire on the beaches. The Germans and French both speak in their own languages and subtitles are shown. I think they do this to make it more realistic and seem like a documentary. There is a lot of stereotyping during the landings, for example at the German headquarters there is a German officer who thinks he is superior to everyone else and has a duelling scar, furthermore when the navy ships fire onto the beaches there is a Frenchman who prances around, and this obviously wouldn’t have happened if you were being fired at.The French are stereotyped as people who dance for any reason. There was also an American general who never spoke, it made him seem confident, calm and composed about the war. I think it was acceptable to do this stereotyping because the movie wanted to make the Americans look good and the Germans seem inferior. The English are shown as people who are not scared about the war, they are confident and they are very serious about the task at hand.In contrast, Saving Private Ryan starts with a big close up of James Ryan’s eyes which goes into his eyes, this gives an effect as if we are going into his memory, as we get closer the sound starts to change to waves this is called a sound bridge. The camera is slowly panning across the beach; there is a sense of anticipation waiting for something to happen. I think that where the battle takes place in Saving Private Ryan is more realistic than The Longest Day. The focus is entirely onto the U.S soldiers at Omaha beach, this differs to The Longest Day which has different perspectives.The lead-up to the landings in The Longest Day starts with militaristic music, the use of the sets in front of screen is due to that it was the best technology available at the time; we must remember this film was made in 1962. There is a long shot of the landing craft approaching from stable cameras; this type of shot is a panoramic aerial shot. The German perspective shows them in panic and rushing to get ready to meet the invaders. The Americans on the landing craft have no fear of dying and is not very authentic, the deaths are not very realistic as they die straight away, there is no blood when they die.(The boats shown are good at showing the logistics of the battle.)In Saving Private Ryan there is no music at all, I think this makes it more realistic, all you can hear is the sounds of the battle and the sea. There is high modality, the camera on the ship moves as in rhythm with the motion of the sea, and the camera is shown in first person, the central focus is then on Captain Miller’s shaking hand, this must be because he must be scared knowing that the Germans have the beach well defended. The camera moves across looking at the other soldiers, the soldier’s faces are grim, they know that many of them will die some have their adrenaline pumping, one man on the boat is praying, turning to religion for help and thinking if he dies there is somewhere to go. There is some suspense building as the soldier’s progress towards the beach. I think the audience would be shocked by the reality of this film, especially those who were fighting in the war, showing the true grit of the war.The battle scenes in each film are very different, The Longest Day cuts between the German and American forces, the cameras used were fixed into position and very stable, these were used when the soldiers were running off the landing craft, some elements of comedy is used, the beachmaster with his bulldog, though this is good historical accuracy as their was a beachmaster who took his dog. The other comedy used is when the news reporters send pigeons off sending messages to the news company, the pigeons fly off and they are called ‘traitors’. The deaths that occur in this film are very different to Saving Private Ryan; they are infrequent, quick, quiet, and clean, many of the things which make the deaths different may be down to the fact that many of those who were fighting in the war were alive during the time of the making of the film, the director may not want to upset anyone.The high angle, panoramic camera used to follow the assault of the U.S troops is not very realistic, it doesn’t make you feel part of the movie and enhance their viewing, and it makes the viewer feel they saw the battle as a spectator. The one thing that makes this movie very peculiar is that when they are shot no blood is visible, this is strange as if you were shot blood would spurt everywhere, this very much differs to Saving Private Ryan which shows a lot of blood everywhere. When the Luftwaffe pilots shoot at the wavering troops on the beaches, they are stereotyped as evil in the way that they laugh; this differs later on to when American planes fire at the German troops as they are silent.The sole focus of Saving Private Ryan is on the U.S troops, some cuts are shown into the German bunker firing with machine guns at the U.S troops but that is all.The cameras are positioned in the front of the boat and at its rear which capture the true massacre of the troops at the front of the craft. The camera is shaky and makes it seem point of view. When the soldiers fall into the water underwater cameras are used. When this happens the sound is muffled, this is a good effect as it would have been like that if you were underwater, also when the camera is underwater and bullets are shot into it, you can hear them piercing the soldier’s bodies and is very realistic. Hand-held cameras play a big part in the D-Day landings; they are well used and make the audience feel as if they were there. The special effects which are used show a lot of vicious things, explosions, gruesome injuries and burning men, this is to show the audience injuries that could and may have occurred. Spielberg uses many techniques to show battle shock on Captain Miller, he uses a technique called ‘miss frame’ and makes the audience think that the shots may have been slowed down, he also uses muffled sound and point of view shots of the horror he is watching.The sound in The Longest Day is easily heard and everything spoken can be heard above the sounds of war, when people are talking the other sounds seem to stop and let them speak. The dialogue shows the bravery of the allied soldiers and they are unaffected by anything they have seen.Some humour is added when a general tells a boy to go back and get his gun. The English are portrayed as upper-class officers with accents or working class people and the Germans are all panic-stricken, bad language was not allowed in the film because when it was made swearing was allowed in any films. In Saving Private Ryan the dialogue is difficult to hear under the sounds of explosions and gunfire, this is to add a sense of reality to the movie.The dialogue of the U.S troops shows they are terrified of being there, and some in much pain. The soldiers swear because they are fighting and are in the heat of the moment, and getting their thoughts out.One man before he snipers someone, says a prayer, this may be for him to stay alive or for a good shot.The two films were very good for their time and with the technology available to each director I think they did very well, each one made full use of the big-budget given to them and to good effect. The tone and atmosphere of each film is very different, The Longest Day shows a cheery atmosphere with elements of humour and Saving Private Ryan showed the reality of the landings. I think Darryl Zanuck tried to show the logistics of the battle, the effect on the English, American, French and the German soldiers. I think he also tried to honour the soldier’s memories. Steven Spielberg tried to give a movie showing the intensity of the battle, and show the audience what really happened. I think both directors have been successful in their aims for their movies.The directors choices used to portray the D-day landings has changed vastly over time, The Longest Day showed that the Germans were arrogant, evil and ruthless killers and the Allied forces seemed superior to them. Saving Private Ryan showed a different portrayal of the war, showing that the Americans were trying to liberate France and that the Germans soldiers were not evil, they were trying to defend themselves.

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