Friday, September 08, 2006

360 degrees of war

We're in Arromanches les Bains where there are two D-Day museums. One is just a cinema, atop a cliff, where you see a 360 degree film of archive footage of the Battle of Normandy interspersed with scenes from the present day. Called "La Prix da la Liberte" it's advertised cheesily and the concept sounds a little cheesy, too, but it's absolutely fantastic. It was really moving. Deliberately dizzying and disorienting, there are sweeping aerial shots of the peaceful French countryside with the occasional defensive emplacement still just visible beneath the encroaching vegetation - then the sound and the fury of war - closeups of the dead and the wounded - then the faces of the modern Normandy French, a wedding party - a market trader, shoppers - their faces all glowing with gratitude. You crane your neck looking at the scenes on the different screens - and then the obligatory shot of the American cemetery - the crosses row on row, ahead, behind, to the sides. The price of freedom.
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