Saturday, September 13, 2014

Overlord (1975 film)

Directed by Stuart Cooper and written by Cooper and Christopher Hudson, Overlord is the story of a young soldier who deals with his own premonitions of death as he would eventually fight in World War II and the Battle of Normandy. The film isn’t just an exploration of a soldier’s life in the service but is also told in a unique fashion that mixes various stock footage with re-created images to play into the idea of war. Starring Brian Stirner and Davyd Harries. Overlord is a captivating and intoxicating film from Stuart Cooper.

The film is the simple story of a young Briton who is about to serve World War II as he endures training and military service while dealing with his premonitions of death as he is about to take part in Operation Overlord in Normandy. It’s a film that plays into a young man dealing with what is to come as he has this feeling that he’ll die in some way. Even as he endures rigorous training to prepare for the war while he would take part in battles near France and do things that other servicemen would do when they take a break from duty. The film’s screenplay is quite minimalist in the way it explores the young life of Tom (Brian Strirner) as he tries to deal with what he is to do as well as having fantasies about his own death along with moments of escapism such as an encounter with a young woman (Julie Neesam) he met at a bar. Yet, Tom tries to deal with his thoughts of death as the days towards Normandy becomes closer.

Stuart Cooper’s direction is very entrancing in not just the way he captures the drama but also in how is able to create something that mixes documentary and fiction with the array of stock footage that is used in the film. In order to blur that approach, Cooper would use some grainy camera footage to match up with the stock footage while the more dramatic shots are featured in a clearer film stock. Some of the compositions involve some unique tracking shots to capture Tom in training or in combat plus some very enchanting fantasy scenes about his premonitions of death as well as the longing for a life outside of war. Some of which is shown with a sense of beauty to contrast this sense of dread that looms where Cooper would show images of the Normandy Invasion as it becomes this very intense climax. Overall, Cooper crafts a very riveting yet compelling film about a man dealing with his own impending doom on D-Day 1944.

Cinematographer John Alcott does amazing work with the film‘s black-and-white photography with its different array of film stock to play into that world of reality and fiction as it is often very rich in its look while being grainy in some of war scenes. Editor Jonathan Gili does brilliant work with the editing in the way he matches the stock footage with the fictional footage as well as the use of dissolves and other stylish cuts to play into the drama. Sound editor Daniel S. McCoy does excellent work with the sound editing to play into the array of sound effects that occur in the film as well as the tone of Tom‘s narration. The film’s music by Paul Glass is superb for its somber score that is often accompanied by a piano to play into the sense of dread as well as some music that is played during those times.

The film’s wonderful cast includes some notable small roles from John Franklyn-Robbins and Stella Tanner as Tom’s parents, Sam Sewell as a trained soldier who reveals to Tom in what to do, Nicholas Ball as a fellow soldier in Arthur, and Julie Neesam as the young woman Tom meets at a bar. Davyd Harries is terrific in the role of Tom’s fellow soldier Jack who often joins him in training and social outings as he tries to deal with what is ahead and its aftermath. Finally, there’s Brian Stirner in an incredible performance as Tom as this young man dealing with being a soldier as well as the premonitions of his own doom as it’s a very chilling yet evocative performance that is a major highlight of the film.

Overlord is a remarkable film from Stuart Cooper. Armed with a brilliant cast and some amazing technical achievements, it’s a film that definitely explores the idea of war from a young man’s perspective as he deals with his own doom. Especially as the film blurs fantasy and reality to showcase the horrors of war and a man dealing with his fate. In the end, Overlord is a sensational film from Stuart Cooper.

© thevoid99 2014

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