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For my final review on Dooyoo, I thought I'd review my favourite thing in the field of film and telly: 'Band of Brothers'. Based on the best-selling book of the same name by Stephen E. Ambrose, which was somewhat based on the accounts of soldiers who actually fought in the Second World War, and more specifically, in the "Easy" company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, it's easily one of the strongest WWII productions to be released, boasting the firepower of exec producers Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, and quite a hefty budget. Its honest, albeit dramatised portrayal of the experiences of the American soldiers of "Easy" company is wonderfully executed, and I'm here to argue why it is simply of the finest series to ever surface, and why you should definitely buy the box-set.
'Band of Brothers' (BoB), as already outlined, follows the "Easy" company's campaign through Europe upon their entry into WWII, from Normandy, France, to Bastogne, Belgium, and to Hitler's Eagle's Nest in Germany. "Easy" were an outfit of paratroopers, trained to enter the battlefield from the air.
The first episode introduces "Easy" company in their year (plus) of training at Camp Toccoa, Georgia, under the severe rule of Captain Sobel (David Schwimmer). The episode introduces the soldiers of the company, conveying the stresses of the physicality of training and the arduous approach to the 'jump'. They make this 'jump' in episode two, and from here on in, war has begun for the men. Exec producers Hanks and Jendresen (Spielberg played more a final touch sort of role) need not embellish; the power of truth is enough to carry empathy - but it is executed fantastically. The bonds that the men make in Georgia are tested as they make the jump, and descend into a deadly warzone. "Easy" company's journey takes them through Europe in a variety of conditions, and the unfolding of events makes for absolutely sublime viewing. It is not 'entertaining', per se - you wouldn't expect it to be - but it is hugely engrossing, and the care that the audience feels for the men who risked their lives for all of us is enormous. One can only imagine the hardship of such an ordeal, but the producers do an extremely fine job of conveying the sheer horror of war, on many levels.
"That night, I thanked God for seeing me through that day of days and prayed I would make it through D plus 1. I also promised that if some way I could get home again, I would find a nice peaceful town and spend the rest of my life in peace."
-- Major Richard Winters
As a work chiefly of non-fiction, BoB doesn't have a protagonist per se, but largely follows the effective 'leader' of "Easy" company: Major Richard Winters (Damian Lewis - you know, the guy from 'Homeland'). Winters effectively tells the story. He is the overseer, the man who guards the soldiers' bonds. Damian Lewis conveys a character of warm-heartedness, but one who is a born soldier and a born leader. Winters reflects on the experiences of war, helping the audience at least get some idea as to how he and the others would have felt. The audience quickly grows to know and trust Winters, and as the episodes pass, the same can be said for the others. Winters' best friend Captain Lewis Nixon is portrayed by Ron Livingston, and has quite a central role too, while Donnie Wahlberg plays Sgt Lipton, Scott Grimes: TSgt Malarkey, Neal McDonough: Lt "Buck" Compton and Dexter Fletcher as SSG Martin to name but a few - there are a LOT of 'characters', but that's because there were that many soldiers in "Easy" company. Admittedly, it's slightly hard to keep track of as a first-time viewer, but inevitable, really. The episodes tend to centralise around one soldier in particular, for the sake of structure and direction; by doing so, the writers could instil messages and ideas in the viewers' minds. The acting is superb, and the performances are a testament to the great men of whom the actors represent.
So how is this realism achieved? Ultimately, it's a team effort. Firstly, the foundation for the series is absolutely Stephen E. Ambrose's original research for the book. I've read it, and it is fantastic; it is constructed in such a way that it becomes a non-fiction-novel hybrid. This is then transferred to screenplay superbly. The actors do a fine job, but it seems that some of the actors were originally casted because of their resemblance to the soldiers in question - this is attention to detail to say the least, and explains why there is a mixed bag of both British and American actors at play here; hell, Damian Lewis in the lead is a Brit himself! I imagine that Steven Spielberg's input towards the end of the production was vital, but Hanks and Jendresen ultimately guided this product to success. Meanwhile, the series as a whole is shot fantastically. Some of the cinematography is very powerful, and evokes emotions that ultimately reflect the greatness of the war; it is always shot appropriately. As Winters and co. storm the grounds of Brecourt Manor, the picture's hue is grey and gritty, and the camera follows the soldiers as if it is a soldier itself; while the camera sits still and peaceful as Winters watches over Lake Zell and the Swiss Alps as he reflects on the ended campaign in Europe, the finish drawing out the natural beauty of such a landscape. Ultimately, however, the producers aim to be realistic. This is a true story - the war happened - and essentially, all they want to do is tell the stories of these great men. The late Michael Kamen provides a stunning, poignant soundtrack for the series, including the popular 'Band of Brothers' Main Theme, a moving lament that buries itself in your mind and soul and doesn't shift. The underscoring of the series deals with this powerful main theme, including a few other related ones, and unifies the series wonderfully and effectively. While exploring the aural, the sound is brilliant, too. Naturally, the producers ensured that the sounds of actual WWII weaponry are used, but this only scratches the surface; you are transported to the warzone with 'Band of Brothers', and this is undoubtedly aided by the excellence of the sound team. Overall, the cinematography, music and sound combine to create an enhanced experience for the viewer; the emotion is augmented profoundly.
-== The Verdict ==-
I've left it until 'The Verdict' to indulge in BoB's brilliance. Budget, time and effort have been put into its production - and a lot of all three - but BoB ultimately finds its muse in the utmost heroism of the soldiers of whom the mini-series depicts. BoB is passionate; you can feel it as a viewer. The emotion is raw and the pain is real. As a viewer, you follow these portrayals of real people - real people who fought for the West - and it is massively down to the Exec producers' vision and the actors' excellence that it is so convincing. The mini-series is less of a TV show, more of an homage to the bravery and efforts of these soldiers. In this follow, the team behind its production transport you as closely as possible to the battlefield; you are meant to experience it with them, although you realistically never could. What I'm trying to say is that this is the most gritty, realistic and powerful realisation of war ever depicted on screen. When you reach the end, joy, relief and deep emotion will wash over you. The final scene, as Winters' watches over "Easy" company together one final time, he informs the audience of how things panned out after the war; and it's tragic. I don't get very teary with many films/TV programmes, but by god I'm a wreck a minute into this scene. It's emotional beyond words: the thought that each of the soldiers who have shared the same ordeals having to part ways and return to ordinary life; these men bound by a force like no other, who had to ultimately start new lives, some of the older ones perhaps resuming what they left behind. The truths aside, this scene, and the emotions it induces, is a testament to the grandeur of the series that is 'Band of Brothers'. This is a fantastic achievement, and one that I doubt will be surpassed for many years to come. It is wonderful viewing; tragic and passionate in equal quantities, it is definitely one you need to not only watch, but experience.
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother
-- William Shakespeare
Band of Brothers is an award winning critically acclaimed HBO mini-series, based on the best seller of the same name by Stephen E. Ambrose produced by two of the finest producers Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. It's an incredible portrayal of the experiences of Easy Company, 506th regiment of 101st Airborne. Each part is narrated by an individual portrayed in the film which gives their personal perspective to the events taking place.
This is a true story how ordinary men become extraordinary people for the sake of humanity, and through each other found themselves.
At the start of each episode you get in introduction from the men whose life this really was. Among these are Dick Winters, William Guarnere and Shifty Powers.
The story begins with the lead up to D-day, the training and struggles leading up to Operation Overlord and leads us through events up to VJ Day. The resilience of these men astounds me.
You get real insight into the feelings and bravery of these men, you get to see the amazing bonds that combat brings and the way war affects each of these men on a personal level. The cast is extensive but some of the cast are listed below;
Damian Lewis ......Maj. Richard D. Winters
Ron Livingston......Capt. Lewis Nixon
Scott Grimes ......TSgt. Donald Malarkey
Shane Taylor ......Cpl Eugene Roe
Donnie Wahlberg ......C. Carwood Lipton
Peter Youngblood Hills .....SSgt. Darrel 'Shifty' Powers
Nicholas Aaron ......Pvt. Robert 'Popeye' Wynn
Michael Cudlitz .....Sgt. Denver 'Bull' Randleman
Rick Gomez..... Sgt. George Luz
James Madio ......Sgt. Frank Perconte
All of the actors did an amazing job at portraying this very sensitive piece of history, they were able to bring both the horror and grief associated with this period but also were able to show the bond and humour that all of these men used to survive, and they were able to do this without taking away from the importance and integrity of the film. Obviously this has as much to do with Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg as it has with each individual actor. They all had a great deal of contact with the surviving service men and also had letters and journals and each used this opportunity to enhance their representation of each individual soldier.
This is a ten part miniseries, the box set has six discs, each with two parts, and the sixth disc is bonus features.
The first part is called "currahee" written by Erik Jendresen and Tom Hanks and directed by Phil Alden Robinson. This is focused on the training and you start to see bonds developing. It makes you realize the intensive training these men went through.
This is called "day of days" and it takes no guessing to what this part is about. Written by John Orloff and directed by Richard Loncraine. It starts immediately prior to Operation overlord and the days immediately following. They miss their drop zone and it takes days for all the members of Easy Company to find each other. Winters also discovers he is now commanding Easy. Many of the men receive medals for successfully taking out a German artillery post. This is when you begin to feel the true sense of combat and the effects it has on individuals.
This part is called "Carantan" and is written by E. Max Frye and directed by Mikael Salomon. This starts two days after D-Day when Easy is required to take the town of Carantan. You begin to see that the casualties of war are not just the ones that don't make it, and you begin to understand why these men have such an incredible bond.
Part four is named "Replacements" written by Graham Yost and Bruce C McKenna and directed by David Nutter. After D-Day and Carentan, Easy Company is depleted in number and a first wave of replacements arrive. The men, including replacements are dropped into Holland for "Operation Market Garden". You begin to realize why the men are fearful of befriending the replacements as there are more casualties.
The next part is called "Crossroads" written by Erik Jendresen and directed by Tom Hanks. In this part Easy Company are called upon again to take a German fortified Dutch dyke and Winters is promoted. Easy are also included in Operation Pegasus aiding the British to recover British soldiers in hiding, then Easy are sent to the Ardennes Forest to hold the line, it is freezing cold and Easy does not have enough equipment, ammo or warm clothing.
This part is called "Bastogne", Easy are in Belgium. They have had to "dig in". Its winter and Easy are holding the line in a forest outside Bastogne. They are in trenches with very few supplies or warm clothing. They are freezing and although you can clearly see the dire situation that they were in there is a sense of determination. The focus of this part is medic Cpl Eugene Roe; you see just how desperate the situation is and how hard it must have been for these poor men when you haven't got the equipment to do your job.
This is called "Breaking Point" and was written by Graham Yost and directed by David Frankel. Although the horrors of war are never far away, you discover that the victims of war are not only the ones who did not come home. Still in Bastogne, Easy are still fighting the cold and the hunger as well as the Germans. Even though Easy had been through so much they were still needed to try and take the town of Foy. They lost several men but ultimately succeeded.
This is called"the last patrol" and was written by Erik Bork and Bruce C. McKenna and directed by Tony To. Easy are in Haguenau near the German border. To the soldiers this seems like a walk in the park until they were sent across the river to take German prisoners.
"Why we fight". Written by John Orloff and directed by David Frankel. Easy finally make it to Germany. On a routine patrol Easy discover a concentration camp which has been abandoned by the Nazi soldiers but was still occupied by attenuated and half-starved prisoners .This is an amazingly adept and sensitive piece of acting and is an extremely emotional portrayal of an example of humanity at its worst. During this episode Easy discover Hitler's death.
"POINTS" is written by Erik Jendresen and Erik Bork and directed by Mikael Salomon. Easy enter Berchtesgaden and the "Eagles Nest". The war in Europe is over, but many of the men may not be able to return home just yet!!
At the end you get told what happened to the many soldiers after the war.
This is the bonus disc called "We stand alone together: the men of Easy company".
This is an eighty minute documentary written by William Richter and directed by Mark Cowan.
This includes: Behind the scenes
Ron Livingston`s video diaries
Who`s who: the men of Easy Company
Premier in Normandy
Experiencing the war (DVD rom Feature)
Each episode is about an hour long and each minute is full of amazing acting and stunning special effects, this is the most poignant piece of World War Two filmography that I have seen.
The series is recommended for fifteen years and above and this is extremely justified as some scenes are very graphic, in particular the concentration camp, Carentan and Bastogne. I would not think it suitable for people of a sensitive nature. If you are interested in World War Two this is for you. I was incredibly impressed with everything about this series and sound and video quality are excellent Sound (Dolby 5.1) and picture (1.78:1 widescreen). You can buy this on Amazon for around £17.95 or £18.49 in a beautiful commemorative tin.
SOME SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This ten-part mini-series follows Easy Company of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment who are assigned to the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army.The show centers on the experiences of the men from the training camp at Camp Toccoa, Georgia, through the landings in Normandy, Operation Market Garden, the Battle of the Bulge and even to the seizing of Hitler's Eagle's Nest. The show focuses upon showing the true pain of war and the price that was paid in defeating the Nazis.
As my title suggests characterization is a key element of the mini-series, be it the portrayal of Captain Sobel as a ruthless authoritarian who liked nothing better than to make his men suffer, or the portrayal of Major Richard Winters as a calm, collected tactician in combat.
The show has exaggerated some of the exploits of Easy Company but the story is all based on what they achieved during the push through Europe, made in a way reminiscent of "Saving Private Ryan" so as to emphasize the horror of war. Fatal gunshot wounds and loss of limbs are common.
But, the series is so much more than just gore for the sake of gore. The show portrays the reactions of fellow comrades and conveys the pain and torment they go through emotionally when they lose a friend. The show is based on real events and therefore all the deaths seen in the series did take place. It really forces the viewer to be thankful for what the servicemen did.
The show will also focus on a different character for different episodes. In the episode that showed the Battle of the Bulge the medic was the main character. This episode showed how medics begged for scraps and how they had to bear witness to horrific injuries that they quite often tried in vain to heal.
The most realistic part for me is when on patrol they come across a concentration camp abandoned by the Nazis with Jews and other ethnic minorities left inside so they can starve to death. The scene is one of death and despondency that shows starving prisoners huddled beside dead bodies. They are let out and are so thankful when food and water arrives. But, on the advice of the chief surgeon they must be kept inside the camp with a monitored intake of food and then Technician Joseph Liebgott who the viewer learns is Jewish, is forced because he speaks German, to order the recently freed Jews back into the camp that they had just been released from. He breaks down in tears after this and this moment is one of poignancy.
Overall the series is marvelous. It portrays perfectly the horrors of war but also the camaraderie of the Easy Company. Never does the story drag on, the viewer will become so attached to each character that they will be desperate to learn their fate. At such a price you would be crazy not to buy such a great, realistic, authentic but all the while humorous portrayal of a very special companies surge through Europe.
One other thing I love about each episode is that before the episode begins, veterans from Easy Company talk and discuss what happened here and there. It is clear that the war had a profound effect on these men and even as a Brit, I can't help but feel I owe something to these men for the valuable service they have provided.
As for the box set itself, it is packaged as described, in a beautiful tin box that adds a touch of class to any DVD set. However, the box is quite small and therefore when removing the DVD case, the corners will usually scrape off the edge of the box. Over time the corners will be worn down and lose color but this is a tiny inconvenience at most. The DVD case is a fold out case, and there are two episodes on each disc and at the end there is a special feature disc. This disc includes a brilliant documentary about the men of Easy Company which is almost as good as the miniseries itself.
This box set really is one of a kind. People have compared it to The Pacific but Band of Brothers is in a different league. It really makes for a great watch, enthralling at times whilst heart-breaking at other times. After watching this I can only salute the men who made this possible, thank you men of Easy Company.
This 10 part series follows the many lives of soldiers who fought in World War 2. Directed by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, Band of Brothers proves to be a gripping whilst factual mini-series.
The realism of the series is mainly down to the records given by the men the TV series follows; these men part of Easy Comapny, of which who are followed throughout the series. Before each episode, the chosen soldiers give a brief insight into what life was like during certain periods of the time they served. The identities of these men are hidden until after episode 10.
Band of Brothers casts the eye over Easy Company from the beginning of the war; the training, boot camp, and the general get to know each other, right to the end of the war; capturing Hitlers Eagle's nest and the surrender of Germany. Each episode is narrated by a different member of the Easy Company cast, which gives the audience a chance to get to know the characters a little more.
The battle scenes for the Band of Brothers are nothing short of spectacular. So many times have films not been able to get the correct balance between realism and excitement, but the Band of Brothers does this exceptionally well. The battle scenes become intense, made all the more so because of the connection you make with the characters of Easy Company throughout the series. It leaves you feeling sad and upset if a soldier is injured; elated and relieved when Easy Company manage to overcome the enemy. it gives a real insight into what fighting in the war was really like...stressful, horrible, difficult...necessary?
The episode in which a German holocaust camp is discovered and set really sums the series up as a picture. At first look, it gives an honest sense of despair, and gives a real feeling of shock, following the feelings shown by the characters on film. The acting and the sets created are wonderful, realistic, and give such a great insight into the traumas of World War 2.
Episode 10 also strikes me as I didn't think a TV series would. After going through the war, losing people through injury, mental illness or death, the last episode of where Easy Company say goodbye to each other for the end of the war is equally upsetting, but in a good way. It left me feeling seperated from colleagues and friends I had spent the last 5 years left!
All in all, it has to be my favourite TV series of all time, and definately worth buying the DVD box set.
When ever I've sat down to think of my favourite TV programmes this always comes out on top. Now i've watched a lot of TV, some might say too much, but this program is flawless. So many other series have an inevitable lull, think of series 5 of the Wire, season3 of Battlestar Galactica or even season 5 of the West Wing. Here there is no lull, no pause for breath and certainly no jumping the shark.
The series is an adaptation of historian Stephen Ambrose' bestselling book. Produced by Stephen Spielberg and Tom Hanks following their 1998 blockbuster 'Saving Private Ryan', the story centres on the exploits of Easy company of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment assigned to the 101st Airborne Division. Indeed it was Hanks who had been reading the book in between shoots on Ryan, who brought the book to Spielberg's attention.
The story begins on the Day before Operation: Overlord or D-Day is set to begin. The first episode tells of the tough training regiment that the men of Easy company had to endure while preparing for the 'Day of Days' It is here that we are intoduced to Lt. Richard Winters, played by Damien Lewis and the man who would become his friend of many year, Lewsi Nixon, as played by Ron Livingston. The ten episodes go through training to France and follows the Allied campaign in Europe until the end of the European Campaign.
One of the big draws of this was that at the time many of the actors involved were not major household names, so with no prior knowledge of Easy company, you had no clue as to their eventual fates. Time spent on developing characters meant nothing as personal favourites would leave, often in truly heartbreaking fashion. The episode titled 'The Breaking Point' is particularly harrowing. The storyline, performances and special fx immerse in a situation few of us have ever thankfully experienced.
As the episodes pass by, you will be sad to see the end approaching, but this series is one of those boxsets that you can take something new from each new viewing. I didn't notice that Simon Pegg and Jimmy Kimmell appear in two episodes until the third viewing. It is an essential part of everybody's viewing history.
A friend of mine who teaches GCSE History recently showed the episode titled 'Why we fight', which deals with the discovery of the first of the Nazi concentration and those who survived the holocaust. A classroom full of energetic kids was quickly reduced to stunned silence by the emotional power of the story.
I cannot recommend this highly enough, most TV today is pointless crap such as talent shows, but when it's done right it can't be beaten.
This is the great T.V series following a company (easy company) of American soldiers from the 506th parachute infantry regiment during the second world war.
The series is split into ten parts Currahee
End of days
The breaking point
The last patrol
Why we fight
The series was released in 2001 and was based on the writings of historian Stephen Ambrose and produced by Stephen Spielberg and Tom Hanks who also collaborated on the 1998 film Saving Private Ryan.
All of the characters in the series are based on actual real life people who also pop in before the episodes and give a little pre recorded interview which is quite nice.
Filmed at Hatfield Aerodrome in Hertfordshire over around ten Months, twelve towns were constructed and the village of Hambledon in Buckinghamshire was used to shoot the training scenes.
Some scenes were also shot in Switzerland.
With a great acting cast there are just too many to mention but Damien Lewis is the Major Richard Winters who holds the men together through their gruesome journey of bloody battles of the war to end all wars.
You will find yourself constantly discussing who the people are all the way through the episodes they are so packed full of stars.
Although some of the battles were not as historicaly correct as they could have been you still identify with the soldiers and the effects are brilliant.
The series won six Emmy awards.
With its first showing on 9th September 2001 drawing 10 million viewers and the two towers falling just two days later where all marketing for the show stopped I can imagine a lot of people may have missed out on this great series.
If you love a good war film then you will love this with great effects and a real story.
You can get this on a 6 disc box set that runs for 598 minutes.
If you havnt seen it then its a Must See.
OK, think of your favourite war films. You know the type, Saving Private Ryan, Full Metal Jacket, even classics like Memphis Belle. Then, combine that with a 10 episode TV series, one of the biggest TV budgets of all time, and Stephen Spielberg in the director's chair, and you have Band of Brothers. This is not a series for the faint-hearted, blood and ammunition are expended in equal measure, and both are shown in brutal detail.
Band of Brothers revolves around Easy company, one of the US parachute regiments involved in the invasion of Normandy, and follows them throughout the war until Hitler's suicide, and the company's return from foreign soil. Each episode also contains a few minutes of interviews with the actual people that took part in the events portrayed (although their names aren't given until the end of the last episode's interview, so you don't get spoilers over who survives and who doesn't ;) )
The show does take until the second episode to really get going, the first episode mostly involves character development so you get to know the people you'll be watching, and Ross from Friends shouting at people that aren't pulling their weight. However, when the bullets do start flying, the realism is so good you may find yourself ducking to avoid the on-screen carnage.
As well as the actual weapon effects, I have to give credit to the way the characters react to their surroundings, you can really believe they're fearing for their lives while sheltering from artillery fire in a foxhole in arctic conditions.
All in all, it's a very good show, and well worth a watch.
Watching the lives of a whole company of heroes.
The Band of Brothers miniseries was produced by HBO and was first run in September 2001. The miniseries is based on the book by Stephen Ambrose and follows Easy Company , a company in the 2nd Battalion in the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, assinged to the famous 101st Airbourne Division. The beginning episode starts at Easy's training camp, Camp Toccoa in Georgia. From the very start this series oozes quality the way in which scenes are filmed and acted is just superb. The first 2 episodes focus just on Easy Company's training in preparation for the D-Day invasion to try and defeat Hitler's Nazi Germany, in these first few episodes we get to know the main characters a bit more and find out about them. The main character in this mini series is Richard Winters (played by Damien Lewis) who starts out as a Lieutenant under Herbert M. Sobel (played by David Schwimmer). Throughout the series we see his progression as a soldier, a leader and as a man and eventually as the commander of the entire 2nd battallion.
A lot of the episodes are mainly focussed on Lt. Winters' exploits and feelings but there are a few episodes that are dedicated to some of the other members of Easy such as episode 6 "Bastogne" which focusses on the feelings of the company doctor Eugene Roe.
The scenes are fighting are created to try and give a real sense of fear and actually being there in amongst the action, no punches are pulled in displaying the gore and injuries sustained by those soldiers who get wounded which gives an icy edge which the series needed to prevent it from becoming too unrealistic (Think like in the A-Team where lots of bullets are fired but no-one seems to get hurt). Watching this series you start to feel like you know the soldiers and it can be a bit sad if they end up getting killed later on in the series.
The series had a budget of $125,000,000 and it really shows, everything has been produced to be as realistic as possible with specialist tanks being made just for the mini-series. The episodes are filmed in England and Switerland with model towns being constructed in England.
The cast listing is pretty good with such big names as:
The episodes were directed and produced by 2 of the biggest names in Hollywood in Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg so you know that they are going to be of high quality.
Overall this is a fantastic series that really gets the viewer involved emotionally with the events that unfurl. The series has been out for quite a while now so it is possible to pick it up for around £17 on DVD or £26 for the collection on Blu-Ray, for 6 discs at either price is a bargain and if you have a Blu-Ray player I would deffinately go for that but it still looks stunning visually on DVD and for £16 i would buy this every day of the week.
This is story of "Easy Company" an American parachute regiment.
It tracks their journey through the Second World War. From the companies it's very uneasy training under the watchful eye of their unreasonable commanding officer played by David Schwimmer right up to the end of the war in Europe.
Every episode starts with the actual war veterans speaking candidly to the camera about the events which you are about to see unfold. This bit of every episode brought a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye. It seemed to make me proud of all the brave men who were prepared to go and fight for all of our freedom.
You follow them all the way through the war from the first moment they jump off the plane into battle. You experience everything with them, their victories, their defeats and it gives you just a small insight as to how a war can affect men in vastly differently.
You see the advantages of having a good leader and how the relationships of each of the company's different characters develop. It is interesting, and sometimes emotional, seeing how new members are welcomed and how old members are grieved.
The cast list is long and distinguished and you will recognise so many of their faces from other programmes and films you have watched over the years. It seems unfair for me to single any character out as favourite as they are all acted superbly but Donnie Wahlbergs character is mine. I am sure you will have you own favourites.
This is a multi DVD set that will have you reaching for the next disk as soon as you have finished the first one. It is a War drama that shouldn't be missed
This ten-part TV series, supposedly the most expensive one ever made, tells the gripping story of a company of men in the US Parachute Regiment during the Second World War. Although called 'Easy Company', these men have it anything but easy as they find themselves taking part in some of the most famous and brutal episodes of the European War.
The series starts with the men in training back in the United States, before we follow them through D-Day, Operation Market Garden, the Battle of the Bulge, the invasion of Germany, the liberation of a concentration camp and the final victory in Europe.
The series was produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, reuniting them again after their partnership in 'Saving Private Ryan', and the series has the same emphasis on extremely realistic and graphic battle scenes. War is certainly not glorified here and, as the series progresses, nearly every character from the first episode is either killed or wounded.
I enjoyed watching this series, although it was not always easy watching, and you get a real feel for the confusion and palpable fear that is present when the action starts. As the series progresses, you see the survivors visibly age and become less idealised and enthusiastic. The events surrounding the Battle of the Bulge provide a real turning point and any excitement that they may have had for 'going to war' is replaced by a desperation to 'get the job done' and just go home.
The characters are very genuine and, of course, based upon the real life persons involved at the time. However, apart from a few noticeable exceptions, I did find myself getting a bit confused about who was who. Different characters would get wounded, miss an episode and then return to a later battle. I found myself latching onto one character to try and keep track of what was going on, only for them then to be killed. Alternatively, someone would be blown up and it would take me a bit of time to work out who had actually been killed.
However, that apart, I'm definitely glad that I watched this series and it was an extremely high quality production. This is television nearly at its best.
Stephen Ambrose wrote about the exploits of Easy Company of the 506th Infantry Regiment in his well praised book. Following the successful combination of Stephen Spielberg and Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan, the two paired up once more for the screen portrayal of Ambrose's book. The tale is called 'Band of Brothers.'
A rather short series of only 600 minutes, split into episodes, and each having as its main focus a different member of the Company as it trails its exploits from initial training and encampment to the end of their involvement in World War II. The star of the show is undoubtedly Damien Lewis, the Brit portraying and American with a commendable accent. He seems to feature as the main character throughout the series, although each individual episode is told from the point of view of a different character each time. Friends' David Schwimmer plays an arrogant officer in the first episode, Currahee, but it is a testament to the direction and production of the Spielberg/Hanks pairing that they make a statement by not involving the highly sought after Schwimmer for much of the series, nor do they focus overly on any one actor save Lewis, letting the skill of the camera and actors do their job as opposed to relying on big names or fancy action shoots.
The result is a resounding thumbs up and a recommendation to watch this the sonest you can. In terms of portrayal of war, it has been hailed by veterans as very close to the truth of how it was, and has also been done very tactfully, giving us enough to be getting our teeth into, whilst finding that tricky balance between praise and patronisation for the characters on show.
Band of Brothers has been released with untold amounts of extras on DVD. As a TV program, it was hailed excellent, as a DVD release, even more so as we get insights from Hanks and Spielberg, as well as the cast, crew and some veterans on the war itself and how they put together the show. I highly recommend this show. It's worth giving it the time and concentration it needs, and I will be hard pushed to find another military drama series, mini or otherwise, that comes close.
My boyfriend got the Band of Brothers box-set and at first I wasn't all that interested. I'm more into light romantic comedies than heavy war stories. However, I gave it a chance and I am so glad I did. Band of Brothers is exceptionally well produced and the acting is amazing. The story is brought alive by the main characters with whom you can't help but grow a strong attachment to. They suck you into their lives and I found I became emotionally attached and when the bad happened (I don't want to ruin the story-line!) I found myself reduced to tears. I would definitely recommend Band of Brothers to everyone regardless of whether they normally enjoy war programmes. I would also recommend one of the extras which shows war veterans explaining their stories and reliving their memories of what they went through. Definitely a must see for absolutely everybody.
After the huge success of 'Saving Private Ryan' in 1998, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks embarked on a new project together. That project was to be a 10 part series recounting the journey of Easy Company of the 506th Infantry Regiment during their Front line experiment in World War II; previously described in Stephen Ambrose's novel of the same name.
In US military tradition regiments usually assign their companies in alphabetical order, Easy company was the 5th of nine companies and thus became E company. They were a parachute regiment destined for the front line in Europe.
Band of Brothers follows the many characters of the company from basic training to the end of WWII. The first episode, Currahee, takes it's title from the mountain under which Easy company endure their basic training under Captian Sobel. This episode introduces us to the primary cast and instantly endears this 'band' of men to us.
The primary focus of the series is on Major Richard Winters played by british actor Damien Lewis who pulls off a very respectable american accent. The other major characters are Winters' friend and alcoholic, Captain Lewis Nixon, and the platoon leaders of Easy. Other characters become the focus of different episodes such as Albert Blithe in 'Carentan' and Eugene 'Doc' Roe in 'Bastogne'.
The quality of the acting and camraderie among the characters is what makes this series so engaging. The directing is exceptional as is the aesthetic appear of the episodes. The special effects are also faultless. These qualities, combined with the knowledge that what you're seeing in based in truth, makes for a wonderful account of the heroism of an exceptional group of men. This is probably the greatest account of a WWII campaign ever committed to film!
During each episode of Band of Brothers the real people being portrayed give a brief description of events in the episode. This gives the series a charm an realism that makes the extraordinary experiences of these people all the more charming.
In every film genre there is an obvious evolution in the way the product changes. The obvious changes happen for reasons of technical improvements in the actual specifics of recording, effects and in more recent times computer driven break through. But more interesting that the hardware and studio skills is the way that genres change their nature due to attitudes and social consciousness towards the subject matter. This is particularly highlighted by the changing nature of Second World War films and the images that they portray. Films made during the war itself obviously had a major element of propaganda about them, providing a unity that the cinema goer could get behind. Even after the war, films tended to follow the same tack and the blood and glory of John Wayne taking on the whole Japanese army were the order of the day in stark contrast to the experiences of the now de-mobilised soldiers that made up a large percentage of the viewers. However there have always been a few films that have been brave enough to show a less noble view of war; All Quiet on the Western Front and A Bridge Too Far show both the first and second wars in such a light. Even with those few films already in the bag, it was still a turning point in film making when Saving Private Ryan came out with its very graphic images and grainy washed out action scenes that somehow remind the viewer of actual footage from the time. The problem with that film though was that it had fantastic opening scenes of the carnage of Omaha Beach showing the virtual decimation of the American landing forces, it soon moved into safer territory and contented itself to be a more run of the mill affair. Although a good film Saving Private Ryans importance for me is the project that it spawned, 2001s Band of Brothers
With the big names of Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg driving the project there was a lot of expectation of this production and in spite of, or maybe because of, the decision to avoid A-list castings for the roles, Band of Brothers has become a benchmark for others to strive for. The advantage of this project over the film that spawned the idea was that as a mini series it had 600 minutes to tell its tale, allowing much more scope for character development and the ability to move at a more logical pace. Both the film and the mini- series had something in common, both were based on true accounts of personal experiences of warfare, but whereas the former was happy to play up to an image of martyrdom and honour, the mini-series had a simpler tale at its heart and was just about mere survival in the field, soldier tales of looking out for your buddies. The length of the project also meant that more than one story could be told. Each episode managed to focus in on a different persons experiences and the fact that there is no obvious lead character made this much more engaging that its feature length brethren.
The story follows a group of soldiers serving in the 506th regiment of the American 101st Airborne, more specifically those of the fifth or easy company from their basic training in the United States to their drop into Normandy ahead of the D-Day landings and finally to the Bavarian uplands where they toasted the end of the war with alcohol from Hitlers personal drinks cabinet. The series success lies largely on two factors: the look of the cinematography and the casting. Using a washed out colour for a lot of the scenes, especially in northern Europe which is the setting for most of the story, the filmed image has the ability to be convincing that it is actually real footage being worked in, especially the action scenes which also incorporate hand held point of view style filming that makes you feel that you are travelling into battle with them. There is a gritty reality to the portrayal of battle also. Gone are the days when battle is filmed like a well choreographed dance with people spinning ludicrously from bullet wounds, here hit targets go down unceremoniously like a sack of coal which is somehow even more poignant and chilling. There is a real sense of fear as you hear the heavy breathing of the participants as they scramble behind shattered ruins with shrapnel, splinters and ricocheting bullets flying around there heads. The story moves through various key features of the Allied invasion and is brave enough to highlight the errors made by military policy and the cost in human lives as glider pilots and soldiers are lost due to poor strategy with no effect on the enemy or the war effort. From the drop into Normandy in the dark hours before the actually invasion to the failed operation of Market Garden, and from the German counter attack through the Bulge to the carnage around Bastogne the realities of war are laid open to the viewer and any image of the noble warrior fighting for a just cause are quickly replaced by that of people like you and I trying not to get them or their friends killed.
It is also brave in the way it deals with the less publicised acts that went on amongst the Allied troops. It is always said that history is written by the winner and until now film makers have been very selective as to the image they portray of the good guys here though the producers have not been afraid to cover the honest realities both good and bad of men in war. The revenge killings of guilty Nazi and Wehrmacht officers in response to the finding of labour camps, the killing of prisoners in cold blood, the wide scale looting and the drunk and the cowardly all have a place in such a tale. The final emotion left by this distinguished, serious work of cinema is a profound sadness at the death of so many American soldiers necessary to bring about the destruction of the enemy and the attendant destruction of Europe. What Hitler didn't finish, the Allied air forces and the looters did. In wiping out the learning and culture of a century, the Germans committed cultural and political suicide, and, as Sir John Keegan has said, "The stain of guilt certainly remains to this day."
As I said earlier the casting through up some inspired choices. If there is a main character it is that of Captain Richard Winters, played by Briton Damien Lewis, who turns in one of many fantastic performances which just adds to the feeling that you are not watching a bunch of actors but actually soldiers. Frank John Hughes plays the foul mouthed Sergeant William Guarnere, struggling to come to terms with the death of his brother at Monte Cassino, and Mathew Settle plays the fearless lieutenant Roland Spiers who has the fatalistic philosophy "The only hope you have is to accept the fact that you're already dead." In fact there are very few actors in this sizable cast that dont fit perfectly into the piece. Even David Schwimmer cast against type as a bullying officer at their training camp who causes a mini mutiny plays a blinder.
Its definitely an action packed story with much violence and should not be ventured into lightly. There are more explosions that any series or film Ive seen and those explosions have a greater impact when they are raining down on people you care about, and that ultimately is what makes it work so well, for all their flaws and failings, you care about almost everyone on the screen, even those that you feel you shouldnt, they are just ordinary people trying to survive in extreme circumstances. Think of this as Saving Private Ryan for adults.
Having missed the first running of the BBC drama 'Band of Brothers', I was eager to watch the repeats of the series. The World War Two drama is based on the experiences of American G.I.s during their service. The cast lacks any big Hollywood stars, but the production team of Stephen Spielberg and Tom Hanks, almost guarantees high production values, as well as high budgets. The relatively unknown cast, equip themselves well throughout this ten part series. The high quality writing, and acting is typified in an episode called 'Caretan', and deals with fear, and how it effects the soldiers of E Company. This particular episode depicts how one of the company, Albert Blite, copes with, and later confronts his fears. Each episode begins with several World War Two veterans recalling their own experiences of the war. Although war is a well-visited cinematic theme, this well scripted, visually and aurally realistic drama is more convincing than most. The battle scenes were particularly well done, the explosive soundtrack, and the urgent, jolting camerawork certainly heightens the realism, and tension of the drama. However, because of the well-worn subject matter, the film seems occasionally unable to avoid some cinematic cliches. Certainly in the aforementioned episode I could almost hear the bugles of the cavalry, when the Sherman tanks crashed through the trees. The series was made well before the latest Gulf War, and before the September the 11th terrorist attacks. I do feel however, that certain parallels could be drawn between the drama, and the USA's fear of, and declaration of war on terrorism. Most of the Germans we see in the drama are either dead, or faceless. This impersonal characterisation seems eerily prescient of the unknown, and unseen face of today's terrorist enemy. However well made, or relevant this drama may be, I fear teh modern viewer is all to used to footage of
war. No amount of fake blood, or special effects can capture the real horrors of war. Indeed the real drama is surely found in the recollections of the veterans. Even more than half a century on, these reminiscences still have an immediacy, and poignancy that no drama can possibly match.
Speilberg and Tom Hanks produced WW2 miniseries.