“D-Day: Normandy 1944” is a concise and at times visually compelling overview of the planning, context and execution of the 1944 Allied military operation code-named “Overlord.” More commonly known as the Battle of Normandy — begun on June 6, 1944, or D-Day, with a bloody assault on Nazi forces ensconced along Normandy’s beaches — the mission was a turning point in World War II.
The documentary does a better job of evoking the logistics of the fight than its drama, despite the film’s Imax 3-D format. That technology is put to good use in CGI sequences of aerial battle, but too often seems wasted on TV-style reenactments, archival black-and-white photos that have been doctored to look 3-D, and animated maps and pop-up books that introduce various “chapters” of the film.
It’s hardly stuff to take your breath away.
Narrated by Tom Brokaw, “D-Day” is debuting in two local Smithsonian theaters in conjunction with the 70th anniversary of the battle. As Brokaw notes, every year there are fewer and fewer people alive who witnessed or lived through D-Day.
While this film honors that generation and its sacrifices, it’s also for those too young to know much about the heroes whose actions are explained on film.
“D-Day” contains an important history lesson, to be sure. But it also means to be a kind of memorial.
G. At the National Air and Space Museum’s Lockheed Martin Imax Theater and the Udvar-Hazy Center’s Airbus Imax Theater. Contains battlefield re-creations. 43 minutes.