Thursday, 6 January 2005

Band of Brothers (2001) - ickleReview (DVD)

TV mini-series made by HBO with the backing of Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. I discovered this three days ago and have only just resurfaced. It follows the men of Easy Company of the 101st Airborne Division of the US Army during World War II: from paratrooper training, through D-Day, the liberation of Holland, The Battle of the Bulge at Bastogne, to the end of the war at Berchtesgaden. There are ten episodes, roughly an hour long, each with different writers and directors, but all based on true events and the books of Stephen K. Ambrose.

Each episode offers a different perspective on the soldiers' lives: from a lieutenant on D-Day, to the ostracized replacements, to the medic struggling for supplies and the intelligence officer who finds outs in Germany that his wife is divorcing him and is even taking the dog.

The excellent bonus material includes an extended documentary featuring interviews with many of the veterans. No matter what you think about war in theory, you cannot help but admire these remarkable men and what they went through. The attention to detail in the making of this is astounding. There is much more space and time in a TV mini-series to develop the characters and their sense of solidarity than there ever could be in a feature film. The only thing that lets it down - despite the trumpeting - is the heavy use of special effects, which, particularly in the D-Day episode, look fake. Besides that, the visuals are great: hand-held cameras in the trenches, grainy footage, bleached colours - all creating a sense of hyper-reality.

Nugget: up there with the very best of war movies: Paths of Glory, Platoon, and We Were Soldiers.

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