D-Day and 1945 film by Oscar winner now in colour

George Stevens was an Academy Award-winning director who captured footage of D-Day, the liberation of Paris, and the Dachau concentration camp

A film created by an American soldier and Academy Award-winning director who filmed at the Normandy Landings of 1944 and a Nazi concentration camp is now available in colour, 75 years later.

George Stevens was a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army, and a film director, screenwriter and producer; who was present at the D-Day operations in the north of France on June 6, 1944.

His films of the war, later collected under the name George Stevens’ World War II Footage (1944-1946), were initially created under orders from the White House, from which President Eisenhower had requested “good images of soldiers” for the American public.

Mr Stevens’ son, George Stevens Jr - himself a film writer and producer, and one-time director of the American Film Institute - explained: “He brought a 16 mm camera with him - that he had used to film my birthday parties - and he passed this camera around to make colour films all through the war.”

Mr Stevens would initially “direct” a group of 70 soldiers to appear in his film. He would also capture shots from D-Day, the liberation of Paris, and the horrors of the Nazi concentration camp in Dachau, in May 1945.

The Normandy Landings 1945 (Robert F Sargent / Public Domain)

After Dachau, the nature of the filming shifted.

Mr Stevens Jr said: “He realised that now something had changed. Rather than being a reporter of events, he became a gatherer of evidence.”

Later, he would make the American 1945 war film for the US Office of War Information, That Justice Be Done, and the documentaries Nazi Concentration Camps (1945) and The Nazi Plan (1945).

Stevens’ footage would be shown at the Nuremberg Trials as evidence against the accused architects of the Nazi regime, but much of the war-related content was not seen by the public until after Mr Stevens’ death, in 1975.

His work was recognised as “an essential visual record” of World War Two by the United States Library of Congress in 2008.

After returning from the war, Mr Stevens would continue his Hollywood career, and won two Oscars in the 1950s, notably as director of the 1951 film A Place in the Sun; and the 1956 film Giant, starring acting legend James Dean.

He would also be nominated for an Oscar for the 1959 movie The Diary of Anne Frank.

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