Real D‑Day Landing Footage, Enhanced & Colorized with Artificial Intelligence (June 6, 1944)

Steven Spiel­berg’s Sav­ing Pri­vate Ryan drew great acclaim for its har­row­ing depic­tion of “D‑Day,” the 1944 Allied land­ing oper­a­tion that proved a deci­sive blow against Nazi Ger­many. More specif­i­cal­ly, Spiel­berg and his cre­ators recre­at­ed the land­ing on Oma­ha Beach, one of five code-named stretch­es of the Nor­mandy coast. The video above depicts the land­ing on anoth­er, Juno Beach. This, its uploader stress­es, “is not the famous movie D‑day the Sixth of June but actu­al and real footage.” No won­der it feels more real­is­tic than that 1956 Hen­ry Koster spec­ta­cle — and, in anoth­er way, more so than Spiel­berg’s pic­ture, whose use of not just col­or and widescreen dimen­sions but advanced visu­al effects made World War II vis­cer­al in a way even those who’d nev­er seen com­bat could feel.

The tak­ing of Oma­ha Beach was assigned to the Unit­ed States Army, with sup­port from the U.S. Coast Guard as well as the U.S., British, Cana­di­an and Free French navies. As such, it made a suit­able inclu­sion indeed for an Amer­i­can war sto­ry like Sav­ing Pri­vate Ryan. Juno Beach, how­ev­er, was pri­mar­i­ly a Cana­di­an job: that coun­try’s army land­ed there under sup­port from the Roy­al Cana­di­an Navy (with addi­tion­al help from sev­er­al oth­er Allied navies).

As on Oma­ha Beach, the troops who first land­ed on Juno Beach came under heavy Ger­man fire and sus­tained seri­ous casu­al­ties. But with­in two hours the Allied forced man­aged to over­come these coastal defens­es and began mak­ing their way inland — a direc­tion in which the 3rd Cana­di­an Infantry Divi­sion man­aged to push far­ther than any of D‑Day’s oth­er land­ing forces.

These Juno Beach D‑Day clips ben­e­fit from a tech­nol­o­gy unavail­able even in Sav­ing Pri­vate Ryan’s day: arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence-based enhance­ment and col­oriza­tion process­es. Orig­i­nal­ly shot in black-and-white like most (but not all) Army footage of the 1940s, it’s been “motion-sta­bi­lized, con­trast- and bright­ness-enhanced, de-noised, upscaled, restored to full HD and arti­fi­cial­ly col­orized.” The result looks crisp enough that any­one with­out first-hand mem­o­ries of the West­ern Front — a gen­er­a­tion, alas, now fast leav­ing the stage — may well for­get that it isn’t a war film but a film of war. None of the par­tic­i­pants are re-enac­tors: not the Allied troops board­ing their boats by the hun­dreds, not Gen­er­al Dwight D. Eisen­how­er, not the Ger­man pris­on­ers of war, and cer­tain­ly not the wound­ed and dead. What’s more, none of their actions are rehearsed: as the 77th anniver­sary of D‑Day approach­es, we should remem­ber that, what­ev­er the brav­ery on their faces, not one of these men could have felt assured of vic­to­ry.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Nor­mandy Inva­sion Cap­tured on 16 mm Kodachrome Film (1944)

Pho­to Archive Lets You Down­load 4,300 High-Res Pho­tographs of the His­toric Nor­mandy Inva­sion

Watch Col­orized 1940s Footage of Lon­don after the Blitz: Scenes from Trafal­gar Square, Pic­cadil­ly Cir­cus, Buck­ing­ham Palace & More

Dra­mat­ic Col­or Footage Shows a Bombed-Out Berlin a Month After Germany’s WWII Defeat (1945)

Bryan Cranston Nar­rates the Land­ing on Oma­ha Beach on the 75th Anniver­sary of the D‑Day Inva­sion

David Lynch Recounts His Sur­re­al Dream of Being a Ger­man Solid­er Dying on D‑Day

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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Comments (3)
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  • Warren Peace says:

    You can tell they are Cana­di­an troops by the shim­mer­ing, shark­skin uni­forms

  • Richard Fontaine says:

    Nice footage of the events sur­round­ing the D‑Day inva­sions!

    Some clar­i­fi­ca­tions regard­ing the video summary/article:

    A good por­tion of this film depicts footage of the 101st air­borne “scream­ing eagles” along with a quick glance of an 82nd “All Amer­i­can” air­borne sol­dier. Both of which were Amer­i­can and were air­dropped behind the Oma­ha and Utah beach­heads.

    Saint Mar­couf shown in the film was also an Amer­i­can sec­tor.

    Casu­al­ties were high­est on Oma­ha, gold, and Sword beach­es, while Juno and Utah were low­er. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the total counts vary wide­ly between sources by thou­sands or even tens of thou­sands for all Ger­man and civil­ian casu­al­ties as well as the Allies.

  • Wesley says:

    The AI can’t seem to set­tle on a hue. The col­ors keep shift­ing.

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