As we sit here in 2021, fighting our way through lockdowns for Covid19 and the subsequent boredom that comes with it, many of us may have resorted to books or streaming services in order to stay entertained. Many have binge watched series after series until almost nothing is left!
Let me take you back to 2001 and tell you how $125 million dollars was spent in order to tell a remarkable story.
The story is “Band of Brothers.”
The original book was written by renowned American historian, the late Stephen E. Ambrose. He composed the book using extensive interviews from the veterans of “Easy Company”, our Band of Brothers heroes. “Easy” are the 2ndBattalion, Airborne 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment.
Band of Brothers is a feat of magnificence. It is television that comes along once in a generation and has never seemed to age or date. It was signed and sealed with Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg at the helm, which in itself, marked it as a landmark project. The series was given the utmost care and respect and the planning was completed with the respectful use of Ambrose`s book.
“Band of Brothers” sees Easy company dropping behind enemy lines in Normandy and fighting their way through to Berchtesgaden, the Eagles Nest. In between those two locations they saw Operation Market Garden and The Battle of the Bulge amongst many other things.
So how did this come across on screen?
Close combat warfare and the endless chaos of war was defined in incredible fashion by chaotic and jumpy camera work. If the character was running, so was the cameraman. No smooth tracks for the camera to use as that wasn’t realistic.
At the beginning and end of every episode from episode 1: Currahee through to episode 10: Points we see interviews and comments from elderly gentleman. It is obvious that they are the surviving members of “Easy”, but which is which?
While you watch the screen, you look for any sign or characteristic that you have been seeing in the show. Anything that will allow you to say…. that is Malarkey, that’s Winters, that’s Guarnere.
Hanks and Spielberg have their ace card and they save it right until the end. After episode ten, the ace is dealt. This is where you formally are introduced to the men. This is in itself a masterstroke, Introducing the men any earlier would have taken away from the series itself and the calibre of the acting that was on show.
The series is bookended by Major Richard Winters. He says” One day my grandson said to me, grandpa were you a hero in the war? And I said to him no, I’m not a hero, but I have served in a company full of them.”