Tom Hanks screens 'Beyond All Boundaries'

4-D war film displayed in New Orleans museum

NEW ORLEANS -- Actors Tom Hanks, Patricia Clarkson and James Cromwell walked the red carpet Thursday before a private screening of the Hanks-produced war film "Beyond All Boundaries" held at the World War II Museum in New Orleans.

The film, which includes 4-D elements such as props and shaking seats, opens to the public Friday and will be shown exclusively at the museum's new Victory Theater. The theater is part of the museum's $300 million expansion project that will continue through 2015.

Clarkson and Cromwell were among more than a dozen celebrities who lent their voices to the documentary. Clarkson was the voice of Marguerite Higgins, a New York Herald Tribune correspondent, and Cromwell was the voices of Maj. Gen. Alexander Archer Vandegrift and Fleet Adm. William Halsey.

The film includes vintage images that chronicle WWII -- from Pearl Harbor to the Battle of the Bulge -- and took five years to make.

"I'm just glad that it's here," Hanks said. "I'm glad that it's part of the bigger museum. I think things like this are natural resources for each city (in which) they exist."

Hanks said the film also captures a moment in the country's history that "is now entering into the era of myth."

He noted that younger generations are far removed from World War II and hopes the film will bridge the gap.

"It was all heroes long ago," he said, but notes that there's still much to learn from history.

"World War II was fought by a bunch of 17-year-olds who were trying to kill each other, now that's not that far away from a lot of things that are going on in the world today," Hanks said. "If this museum and we have done our job well enough, people will come and certainly take note of the past, pay homage to the sacrifice, but at the same time, walk away thinking, 'Well, what would I do if the circumstances were the same?' "

Cromwell and Clarkson said they didn't hesitate when asked to be in the film.

"It was an honor to be asked," Clarkson said. "It's an honor to be a part of this. It's a tribute to the people who have made the greatest sacrifice ever."

Cromwell said, "it's good to give back when you're in a position where it makes a difference, so it was my pleasure."

"Beyond All Boundaries" has been a highly anticipated attraction at the museum. Also opening Friday are two other museum additions -- a canteen that will showcase musical revues inspired by USO-style productions and a restaurant called The American Sector that will be overseen by chef John Besh.

To mark the occasion, there will be a military flyover, procession of World War II veterans and entertainer Mickey Rooney is scheduled to perform with his band.

The celebration will continue through the weekend with a Victory Stomp block party Saturday and a retrospective honoring the museum's founder, the late Stephen Ambrose, on Sunday.