The Longest Day Movie Poster Image

The Longest Day

(i)

 

Authentic 3-hour WWII D-Day drama; no graphic violence.
  • Review Date: June 27, 2014
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1962
  • Running Time: 179 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Uses three points of view (American, English, and German) in an attempt to create an even-handed, humanizing approach to the events of D-Day. Without extended graphic depiction of the war's most heinous injuries and brutalities, confirms that "war is hell." Confined in scope to a single day, the film cannot comment upon the long-term effects of such life-changing experiences and the inevitable scars, but it is sincere in its effort to deliver a complex picture of the realities of battle.  

Positive role models

All American and British commanders, officers, and troops are portrayed as brave, loyal, trustworthy, and insightful. Despite the film's attempts to balance the characterizations, some of their German counterparts are depicted as hotheaded, stubborn, and ignorant, though others are thoughtful and courageous. Though one African-American barrage balloon battalion was involved, and a very small percentage of African-Americans were on the beach at Normandy, no men of color are shown. With the exception of one female French resistance worker, women have only minor roles.

Violence

The full final hour of the film, as well as some earlier scenes, show men engaged in battle. Men on both sides of the conflict die from gunfire, explosions, and accidents. Dead bodies strewn across a beach are seen in the background of numerous sequences. Dead paratroopers hang from trees. Many scenes show hand-to-hand combat, and characters fight for their lives. A train blows up; a solider tries to drown a woman; a fleeing partisan is shot in the back. Despite all of the above, this film was made in the early 1960s and, as was the case at that time, there are no graphically violent visuals or stomach-turning injuries shown. 

Sex

A woman flashes some décolletage to distract German soldiers.

Language

A few "damns" and "hells."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Set in wartime 1944, characters smoke; one general chews and smokes a cigar throughout. Champagne, beer, and whiskey are consumed moderately in a few scenes.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Longest Day, a black-and-white docu-drama released in 1962, is a predominantly accurate depiction of D-Day, June 6, 1944, when Allied troops invaded German-occupied Europe via the western coast of France. The film, which takes place over one 24-hour period, uses three distinct points of view -- American, English, and German (with subtitles) -- to tell the story. The first two hours reveal the preparations and initial skirmishes that set up the final hour -- a depiction of the massive air and sea battles that launched the Allies' assault on Omaha Beach in Normandy. Combat is almost continuous. Men are gunned down; lifeless bodies are seen on the beach; some dead hang from trees. Despite that, both graphic violence and brutality are kept to a minimum; the camera does not dwell on the human destruction. An effort is made to show German officers in a balanced way, though some are buffoonish and wrongheaded to the extreme. A momentous achievement when it was released (filmmakers didn't have special effects and computers to rely on), the film retains the historical and emotional impact that was intended. Some smoking, drinking, and a few "hells" and "damns" are heard.     

What's the story?

Based on a respected book of the era, THE LONGEST DAY is June 6, 1944, when Allied troops invaded France by air and sea in a massive effort to make their way into German-occupied territory, which threatened all of Europe. Shot by three directors, responsible for the three countries involved (America, Britain, Germany), the film was the vision of producer Daryl Zanuck, who hoped to deliver the definitive World War II epic. Countless movie stars (John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan, Eddie Albert, Richard Burton, Red Buttons, and Peter Lawford, along with many of England and Germany's finest actors) joined Zanuck to ensure that the film would be a stellar event. The movie’s first two hours deal with the Allies' critical decision-making and preparations before sunrise, as well as with the Germans' suspicions about and fear of an attack. During this portion, a wide variety of characters is introduced; rooting interest is developed; initial skirmishes take place in the dark; and the stakes are highlighted. The final third shows the relentless battle, the destruction, and the death, culminating in the Allied forces’ initial success that would lead them to victory.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

The Longest Day is a solid, engaging introduction to a heroic chapter in recent world history. A marvel in its day -- imagine re-creating authentic battle sequences without the help of computer-generated special effects or any of the technical advances of the last 50 years -- the film remains an artistic achievement and must be seen as a sincere effort to bring authenticity to a momentous historical event for moviegoers in 1962.

There's a decided simplicity to the story. The characters, as is the film itself, are black and white. The heroes have pure motives, uncompromising values, and steadfast allegiances. Most of the villains are desperate and ferocious in their efforts to hold back the Allied tide or glorify their Führer; some effort was made, however, to humanize at least a few of the German military elite. Though the film is certainly a vivid portrayal of combat, unlike many later battlefield movies, it does not focus on the graphic horrors of death and injury, nor is war depicted with brutal savagery.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the portrayal of war has evolved since this movie was made in 1962. Considered violent and realistic when it was made, how does The Longest Day compare, in terms of both tone and on-screen brutality, to more recent combat films (Saving Private Ryan, Lone Survivor)? 

  • Why do you think filmmakers sometimes choose to make black-and-white films? Do you see the artistry in the many shades and shadows revealed using this technique? Does the absence of color make it seem more or less real?

  • Why is it important to know how truthful a historical film actually is? How would you find out about the film's accuracy? Do you favor more authenticity or a "better" story?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 1, 1962
DVD release date:November 2, 1999
Cast:John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Eddie Albert
Directors:Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, Bernhard Wicki
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Genre:Drama
Topics:History
Run time:179 minutes
MPAA rating:G

This review of The Longest Day was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?