27 January 2007

Band of Brothers



I wasn't quite sure what to expect before viewing Band of Brothers (imdb). I hadn't researched any of it, so I believed I was sitting down to watch a fictionalized account of WWII, and I wasn't sure I would like it. I was wrong on all counts.
From the moment the first of this ten part mini-series started, I was slammed on all sides of my senses just from the effect of viewing and listening. Never have I seen such a vast storyline with the ability to place the viewer in the middle of a harrowing, emotional, fear-ridden journey kept on constant edge, and then hold it for over ten hours! Band of Brothers did just that.


I fear talking about the story since I don’t want to give anything away to those viewers that may not have seen it. Suffice it to say that this is a true story. It is not a “based upon a true story” film. It is a dramatization of the stories told by the survivors of E Company of the 101st Airborne of the U.S. Army, mixed with a few items of historical significance. In it we follow E Company from the time of their pioneering paratrooper training in the U.S. to their deployment in England, to their D Day jumps over France, and through their entire European campaign. Along the way we learn who the men are, and even find a few contradictions between what these men say, and what our history books tell us happened. And the film does so without being revisionist.


As a Marine that served in Africa and was a part of some battles in Somalia, and having studied much of WWII, I felt I knew what to expect. Yet, by the time this series was completed I felt emotionally drained and exhausted. It makes me wonder how drained and exhausted these men must have been. I could never in my wildest imagination see myself going through what the men of E Company did. By the time the story has run its course, you feel like you know some of the men personally and realize that truly, these men are from a different era. To heighten this feeling, there is a bonus 11th part to the series that caps everything off perfectly. It is a documentary of interviews with some of the men that served with E Company and their personal stories of survival.


As far as filmmaking goes, everything about Band of Brothers is perfect. The cinema-photography adds value to everything seen, and only occasionally do directorial and editing styles show differences between the episodes. These are only minor, and I think you would have to be specifically watching for them to notice. (I admit to doing this, but only because I watched the entire series a second time). The special effects are above and beyond great. When checking out the extras on the last disc, there were shots pointed out that were digital effects that I thought were real.


Wholeheartedly recommended.


Now if someone would just do the same thing for the Pacific campaign...

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