À l’assaut du réel : images du débarquement du 6 juin 1944

Jacques Lefebvre

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Abstract :
How does one portray war and especially D-Day? Representing war is a daunting challenge. The “reality”; of war is a deluding concept since by trying to represent war one must necessarily choose to approach the subject from a specific angle in order to convey an impression or an emotion. Therefore such an enterprise is a rather complex procedure in which the very notion of objectivity is constantly challenged. The newsreels, the documentary films, the photographs shown in various magazines after D-Day all contribute to the construction of a “reality”;. The “reality”; perceived at the time is obviously different from the “reality”; we perceive today. The most striking example is the series of photographs taken by Robert Capa on D-Day. We know now that they were the result of some terrible mistake made by a young technician in London and yet the blurring effect of these shots has become iconic and its authenticity is taken for granted. Our perception of D-Day also varies depending on whether the documents we see are in black and white or in colour. For many years the “reality”; of D-Day was in black and white. We are now discovering films in colour that alter our perception of the event. Of course we do not only rely on newsreels, documentary films and photographs. Our perception of D-Day is also guided, or misguided some would say, by works of fiction. Three films epitomize the various choices and approaches taken in order to reconstruct the “reality”; of the invasion. They are: The Longest Day (Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, Bernhard Wicki, 1961), The Big Red One (Samuel Fuller, 1980), and Saving Private Ryan ( Steven Spielberg, 1998). The “reality”; of war as shown by these three films is not a consistent one. It is still D-Day but our perception is influenced by an array of parameters that include narrative, aesthetic and technical choices, as well as the aura of film director and the size of the budget allocated by the producers.
Published : 2006-10-13


Jacques Lefebvre, « À l’assaut du réel : images du débarquement du 6 juin 1944 », Cycnos, 2006-10-13. URL : http://epi-revel.univ-cotedazur.fr/publication/item/636