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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Vivid portrayal of D-Day, June 6, 1944, which marked a major turn in the Allied armies' assault on the Germans' European stronghold.
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 & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A woman flashes some décolletage to distract German soldiers.
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A few "damns" and "hells."
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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.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.