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If you were, like many others, disappointed with the lack of authenticity shown in The History Channel’s The World Wars this week, some real color footage from World War II that has surfaced that will get you excited.
Hollywood director George Stevens, best known for epics like A Place In The Sun and Giant, filmed moments during the war in color. It turns out that his footage was the only color film made on the Allies’ side.
According to The Telegraph, Stevens was a passenger on the HMS Belfast and had a 16mm color film camera with him, which he used to film the Normandy landings on D-Day. Stevens was assigned to a crew that shot only in black and white, but he made the decision to use the unique color camera.
While he developed them in the U.S., the color film was not used and sat undiscovered until George Stevens Jr. discovered them. According to The Huffington Post, Stevens Jr. later used the film in his documentary George Stevens: D-Day to Berlin, which earned an Emmy.
“I had this feeling that my eyes were the first eyes that hadn't been there who were seeing this day in colour, and I watched this film unfold and on this ship - and all of these men with their flak jackets and anticipation of this day - and around a corner on the ship comes this man - helmet and jacket - and walks into a close-up, and it's my 37-year-old father,” Stevens Jr. recently told the Telegraph about the film. “It was so moving.”
Stevens, who died in 1975, was among a generation of filmmakers so affected by the war that it forever changed his style when he returned to Hollywood. Before the war, he made lighthearted films, including the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movie Swing Time. After the war, he took on more serious projects, including A Place In The Sun, Giant and The Diary of Anne Frank.
The full D-Day to Berlin film is available on YouTube here.