Seamlessly interweaving archival war footage and a fictional narrative, Stuart Cooper’s immersive account of one twenty-year-old’s journey from basic training to the front lines of D-day brings all the terrors and isolation of war to life with jolting authenticity. Overlord, impressionistically shot by Stanley Kubrick’s longtime cinematographer John Alcott, is both a document of World War II and a dreamlike meditation on man’s smallness in a large, incomprehensible machine.
Theatrical Release: July 1975 - Berlin Film Festival
DVD Review: Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
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|Distribution||Criterion Collection - Spine # 382 - Region 1 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 7.73 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||English (Dolby Digital 1.0)|
commentary featuring Cooper and actor Brian Stirner
• Theatrical trailer
The Criterion DVD is, as expected, very impressive - anamorphic and progressive in the original 1.66:1 aspect ratio. With the nature of the film's creation involving archival footage (often expressed in a hallucinatory effect) - a lot of the intent of Overlord was to deliberately parallel that to some degree giving the film an important historical resonance (cinematographer Alcott utilized special un-coated lenses to duplicate the grey tones of the 40's and 50's). The digital transfer appears to faithfully represent that and with the relatively inexpensive budget it has not been over-digitized and retains most of the truthful grainy feel. In short it looks theatrically faithful and typical of Criterion's strong commitment to cinema (appropriately the archival footage has not been attempted to be restored at all).
Extras are significantly loaded - first off is an audio commentary featuring director Cooper and actor Brian Stirner although it was not recorded simultaneously (so they don't interact at all). Cooper is able to relate some fascinating facts about the production, the cast and what he was really going for with this film. Stirner focused more on his personal interaction with the project giving input from his standpoint as an actor. Next up are a host of featurettes - Mining the Archive (video featuring Imperial War Museum film archivists detailing the war footage used in the film) is about 23 minutes long and takes a very historical look at the film from an authenticity standpoint. Capa Influences Cooper is 8 minutes long and is essentially a photo essay featuring Cooper commenting on photographer Robert Capa. Cameramen at War is an archival short from the British Ministry of Information’s 1943 film tribute to newsreel and service film unit cameramen. A Test of Violence (1969) is a 14 minute artsy image processed short film made by Cooper about Spanish artist Juan Genoves. Germany Calling is just over 2:00 long - a 1941 British Ministry of Information propaganda film with some clips that appear in Overlord. We also have some audio supplements - Journals from two D-day soldiers is read by Brian Stirner . Finally there is a 30-page liner notes booklet with essay by critic Kent Jones, a short history of the Imperial War Museum, and excerpts from the Overlord novelization, by Cooper and Christopher Hudson.
I'll agree that WW2 buffs will get the most out of this film, but I can't see too many not being rewarded by its unique presentation. The Criterion extras really improved my personal appreciation.