Overlord (film)

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Directed by Stuart Cooper
Produced by James Quinn
Written by Stuart Cooper
Christopher Hudson
Starring Brian Stirner
Davyd Harries
Music by Paul Glass
Cinematography John Alcott
Edited by Jonathan Gili
Release dates
  • 1975 (1975)
Running time
85 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Overlord is a 1975 black-and-white film written and directed by Stuart Cooper. Set around the D-Day invasion ('Operation Overlord'), Overlord is a war film about a young soldier's meditations on being part of the war machinery, and his premonitions of death. The film was entered into the 25th Berlin International Film Festival, where it won the Silver Bear - Special Jury Prize.[1]


Beginning with a premonition of his death, the film follows a young everyman through his call up to the East Yorkshire Regiment, his training, his meeting a young girl, his journey to France, and his death on Sword Beach. Director Cooper also includes footage of the London Blitz and bombing of Europe to emphasise the events leading up to the invasion and the comparatively short distance between England and France.



Stuart Cooper had originally intended to film a documentary film about the Overlord embroidery tapestry.[2] As he researched the events of the Normandy landings at the Imperial War Museum he decided on making a film of a young man's journey from call up to coffin.

About half of Overlord is contemporary footage shot for the film, and about half of it is archival footage from British training missions and the invasion itself. Cooper and his cinematographer, John Alcott, tried to create a consistent look when filming the contemporary footage and to this end they employed old Kodak film stock and World War II-era original German 1930's military camera lenses.

The film originally failed to get US theatrical distribution and was only shown there in select screenings and on television. In 2006, the film saw its first US release through Janus Films and in early 2008 a re-mastered edition was re-released in cinemas (on 1 February, with a launch at the Institute of Contemporary Arts) and on DVD (on March 3) in the UK.

It was released as part of the Criterion Collection in 2007.[3][4]

Presenting a screening of the film at the 2009 Sydney Film Festival, director Stuart Cooper said that the Imperial War Museum allowed him access to millions of feet of their film including original nitrate negatives. Cooper was also granted access to diaries of soldiers who were present at the landing that he incorporated into the screenplay. Parts of the film were filmed at Aldershot.


  1. "Berlinale 1975: Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2010-07-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Cooper, Stuart (18 January 2008). "A camera instead of a rifle". Guardian. Retrieved 2009-08-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. The Criterion Collection: Overlord by Stuart Cooper
  4. Amazon listing

External links