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Juno Beach
June 6, 2004 1:04 AM   Subscribe

We are minutes away from the 60th anniversary of D-day. The Canadians landed at Juno beach. (Some news) (Some history).

The U.S. has a long history of movies commemorating it's role in war, including D-day as have other smaller countries like Australia (WW1). Canadians have written some good books about our wars like "And No Bird Sang" and "The Wars" (Amazon links) and the NFB and the CBC have done many a documentary but we never seem to have done a great film to commemorate our fighting men. Hell, even recently deceased President Reagan remembered Canada's role in the D-day fighting. Why have we no great film for what our men did or about that cold blooded murder at Abbaye d'Ardenne on D-day?

We can a least remember them via the Juno Beach Centre.
posted by arse_hat (16 comments total)

It is shameful that we don't have a movie of that genre. To add insult to injury here in Kingston, Ontario we don't even have any events planned for today. Kingston was the first capital of Canada, has a Canadian Forces Base and is home to the Royal Military College... but has no event to mark the 60th anniversary of D-Day?

Lest we forget
posted by sonicgeeza at 6:23 AM on June 6, 2004

I wouldn't say 'shameful' is the right word, with regard to making a movie of the invasion. Canadians make documentaries, that's just what they do. A lot of Canadian WW2 veterans also simply don't talk about what happened over there, and would likely feel very uncomfortable seeing a fictional version of themselves on a movie screen.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:03 AM on June 6, 2004

what good is a big hollywood style movie...? would likely lead to more revisionist claptrap such as pearl harbor & the patriot. our various documentaries & mini series are a darn sight better in that respect, the format a more worthy tribute.
posted by t r a c y at 8:27 AM on June 6, 2004

we never seem to have done a great film to commemorate our fighting men


(and ISTR that either 633 Squadron or Dambusters has some Canucks in it)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:45 AM on June 6, 2004

I haven't seen Devil's Brigade, but one of the comments at IMDB is "Should have titled this 'The Dumbass Brigade.'"
posted by kirkaracha at 8:50 AM on June 6, 2004

As a typical Canadian, I am fully aware that Canada played a crucial and larger-than-life role in the war... and did so in that typical sincere and understated Canadian manner.

Making a scene about it would be somehow disrespectful to their memory. It wasn't a glorious event: it was a dirty helljob that had to be done and done well. So they did, and they died for it, and they succeeded.

So I prefer not to go all Hollywood about it. I'll just keep quietly appreciating their courage, and hope that I'm never called upon to sacrifice myself in the name of doing the right thing.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:58 AM on June 6, 2004

I have met two veterans of D-day. One was Canadian and neither of them would talk about it. "The Longest Day" come to mind as does the opening scences of "Saving Private Ryan".
posted by clavdivs at 10:08 AM on June 6, 2004

what good is a big hollywood style movie...? would likely lead to more revisionist claptrap such as pearl harbor & the patriot. our various documentaries & mini series are a darn sight better in that respect, the format a more worthy tribute.

Who said a big hollywood one? Something like Band of Brothers would be pretty cool.
posted by The God Complex at 10:12 AM on June 6, 2004

I thought that "The Longest Day"--one of the most widely respected authoritative modern books on D-Day--did a great job depicting Canadians' heroic role in taking Juno Beach and fortifying the surrounding area on bicycles (!).
posted by dhoyt at 10:25 AM on June 6, 2004

Different mediums, TV, radio, books, magazines and movies all tell stories in different fashion. Canadians have told the story of their fighting in great books, TV & radio dramas and many documentaries but never really seem to have found a voice in cinematic motion pictures. With many great writers, actors and technical talent (look at the number of Hollywood firms made in Canada) still the cinematic movie never seems to be a voice Canadians adopt to tell their history. It is not necessarily a bad thing but I do wonder why it is so.
posted by arse_hat at 10:59 AM on June 6, 2004

Also, The Wars is a fabulously good book (it's about WW1, however, in case anybody is wondering).
posted by The God Complex at 11:06 AM on June 6, 2004

Devil's Brigade was on British TV last weekend as part of a William Holden retrospective. The plot summary at IMDB is pretty much the entire plot - I have quite a high tolerance for crap movies, but gave up after about 45 minutes because it was just so cringingly bad.
posted by daveg at 4:35 PM on June 6, 2004

In the coming years there won't be very many veterans left to have D-Day reunions and to be paid homage. Sadly, this means that there will be fewer veterans affairs societies and it is highly plausible that the memory will fade.

Most of the community here at Mefi are book-reading, documentary-absorbing, reflective people... the masses are not. In order to reach the mainstream with the message, we need movies and mini-series like Private Ryan and Band of Brothers. These have done an excellent job of portraying the horrors and the human face of WWII to average Americans.

Without a similar set of cinema-size feature films and rentable DVDs it's going to be increasingly difficult to keep the memory and gratitude alive outside of academia.

A Canadian Band of Brothers would indeed be excellent for exactly that reason.
posted by sonicgeeza at 5:16 PM on June 6, 2004

A number of soldiers from my old reserve unit were victims at the Abbaye d'Ardenne (27th Armoured Regiment morphed into the Sherbrooke Hussars).

In the officer's mess was a large brass plaque (roughly 3 feet by 6 feet) commemorating them and other other unit losses.

I don't think a parade week went by without my reading those names and being shocked at how young they were. The Lt. who was murdered was my age (at the time) when he died.

I drank many a shot of Calvados to these brave men.
posted by smcniven at 6:37 PM on June 6, 2004

Whoops. I just posted this on another thread, but it probably would have been more appropriate here:

CBC's home page from June 6, 1944.

posted by soyjoy at 7:07 PM on June 6, 2004

Canadians remember Dieppe more than Juno. That's just our character.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 5:26 AM on June 7, 2004

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