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It’s ‘Military Film Afternoon’ Saturday at Fort Devens Museum


DEVENS — Saturday, August 15, is Movie Afternoon at Fort Devens Museum, with a three-film program starting at 1 p.m. at the Museum’s 94 Jackson Road, Devens, location. These films relate to military actions but they are not films you would encounter in local movie theaters or through usual television programming.

Two of the three films being screened tell the story of bringing people to former Second World War battle sites in Europe. In one, a few veterans of the storming of the Normandy beaches and early fighting to liberate France return to those scenes of battle and comment on their memories. This film shows clips of phases of the battle.

The second film centers on a former GI involved as part of a graves registration team at work in France and Belgium just after the Battle of the Bulge. In the film he returns to the former battle area with a small group of students from the United States and has them meet local people, see places where some of the combat took place, and learn something of what went on at the time. Both of these films are on loan from Joe Landry of Shirley, himself a World War II soldier and survivor of the Battle of the Bulge. They are among films he cherishes most in his own extensive film collection.

The third film is a training film addressing the issue of why the country became involved in the Vietnam War. It presents the thinking involved in US involvement in Vietnam starting with the withdrawal of French troops from Indochina, and it traces the way actions went over the years. This is not a film featuring a return of veterans to a battleground, but it may stimulate the viewer to think further about this conflict in America’s past.

This film is one of many restored by Harvard Film Archives. HFA took on this work when Fort Devens Museum brought to its studio a large group of old 16mm training films from Fort Devens found deteriorating in someone’s garage. The collection includes films on a diverse set of subjects from actual combat in Italy or New Guinea to big-star entertainment of troops in World War II, from Jujitsu training to German propaganda films showing quite a different take on war actions, and much more. The Museum staff hopes to present other films from this extensive collection in the future.

On August 15th Museum doors open to the public at 10 a.m. Admission to both the exhibits and the program are free of charge, but they are presented with the hope that vistors do make donations for the continued progress of the Museum. Light refreshments will be served. The Fort Devens Museum is located on the 3rd floor of 94 Jackson Road and is wheelchair accessible. For more information please email or call 978-772-1286.

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