Newest Review: ... 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 i... more
We Band of Brothers
Band Of Brothers
Member Name: caseybrady1992
Band Of Brothers
Advantages: An epic, realistic and emotional portrayal of a true, heroic story.
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
Summary: An historic account and film at its absolute finest.