Thursday, August 27, 2015

Canada and JUNO Beach

I was anxious to see this film, my late father having served in 420 squadron, RCAF. However, whenever I purchase films on the topic of war, especially those written by Canadian or European film makers, I tread very cautiously, being aware of the rampant anti-military sentiment among the film communities in those countries. However, my misgivings were not warranted. The film is a just celebration of the courage of, not only Canadians who served, but of all allied soldiers who joined to fight the fascism of the 20th century.Canada's veterans, those few WW2 vets remaining (I lost my father last year at 92), deserve to be revered and respected as "heroes". The story follows three soldiers, a member of Canada's Airborne regiment, a commander of a Sherman tank and an infantryman. The action is taught, the dialogue (though stiff at times) is acceptable and the equipment/technology accurate for the period. Stens, Lee Enfields and Tommy guns for the Canadians and accurate portrayals of German weaponry and uniforms. I was pleased to see that they got the Canadian helmets right (Canadians wore distinctive helmets, slightly different from the British, at Normandy for the first time).They also got the airborne equipment right. My only quibble in this respect was the aircraft which delivered the troops (some modified version of a B25 bomber). They should have got it correct (either a Dakota or Halifax - since it was all CGI anyway, they could have gotten that right). The film is a fitting tribute to those who fought in the Normandy campaign - Canada having not been given nearly as much credit as it deserved. God bless the veterans for saving the world and congratulations to the film makers for making such a moving tribute. This film should be seen by anyone interested in history, western heritage and those interested particularly in the war against fascism, either during World War 2 or the current struggle where Canadians, Americans and Brits serve side by side.
As a Canadian I am thrilled that we have some stories from the Canadian perspective on World War II...
The film is three different Canadian soldier stories connected on one day in history, D-Day, and the efforts of our Canadian troops in securing Juno beach, as part of five areas to be secured on that fateful day. We have the perspective from a paratrooper, a tank officer and a foot soldier. After seeing the intense battle on the beach in Saving Private Ryan some years ago, the scene on the beach in this movie wasn't as 'polished' but found that my emotions were in tatters as it became all the more personal. I never forget our young soldiers sacrifices, and to see the same effect on these soldiers trying to land on the beach, and being cut down is heartbreaking.There are the few that manage to make it through, and the beach gets secured. If I remember correctly, out of one group of 110 men, 17 survived, and out of many tanks that were made to float from two miles away at sea, one managed to make it to the beach. The paratrooper manages to find his squad after a delay, and they must find a way to take the big gun out before more troops land. The story is true, and their mission is accomplished.We see the real survivors of WW II talk about their experience as the film ends. This film brings our history to life, with class and with a Canadian take on our contribution to the war effort. As gripping, but with an honest, simple telling of wars horrors.