Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan" changed the way that we thought of D-Day, but twenty years earlier, a relatively unknown filmmaker brought a vision of the same events that was just as bold, even if few people saw it at the time. Directed by filmmaker and actor Stuart Cooper (best known for playing one of "The Dirty Dozen"), the film began with his character being commissioned to make a non-fiction short about a tapestry woven about the invasion of Normandy. Instead, he ends up making a formally experimental combination of drama and documentary, mixing archival footage and specially shot scenes that remains a powerful and hugely impressive take on the events. The film focuses on Tom, an everyman who's called up to the East Yorkshire Regiment, meets a girl, is part of the D-Day invasion force, and then (spoiler?) dies on Sword Beach, one of the five main landing areas in Normandy. There's nothing especially innovative about Tom's narrative, which hits a number of familiar war movie beats, albeit in an admirably sweet, low-key way: you really come to feel for the boy by the time he's on a landing craft. But the blend of drama and documentary is absolutely seamless, leading to a truly stunning (given the meager budget), and wrenching finale. But that blend isn't the only innovation; Cooper deploys flash-forwards, dream sequences, and fantasies, leading to a vaguely trippy feel that makes it feel entirely different from WWII pictures that had come before, a fever dream rather than a retelling. Despite winning the Special Jury Prize at the Berlin Film Festival, U.S. distributors (reluctant to put out a war film in the closing days of the conflict in Vietnam) didn't pick the film up, but it was eventually dug up by the Telluride Film Festival in 2004, leading to a belated theatrical release in the United States a couple of years later. It's also now available from The Criterion Collection.