Review: Band of Brothers

I’m sure everyone has heard of Band of Brothers, the 10-episode HBO series based on Steven Ambrose’s book of the same name. Another thing that would have been noted is that Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, director and star respectively of Saving Private Ryan, were involved as executive producers, and in the latter case, also as a director and writer.

Band of Brothers follows the soldiers of Easy Company from the day they dropped behind enemy lines to their fates upon the end of the war in Europe. The series focusses on a handful of the men, from those that remained with the company throughout, to those that missed part of the action some way or another. In doing so, it addresses many facets of the war – the losses and incompetences that unexpectedly forced command onto junoir officers and even NCOs; the effects of fear and shellshock; the tension between eager new recruits and battle-weary veterans; the insanity of commanders who’d been too long from the battlefield; the birth of legends, some balanced by human emotions and regrets…the list goes on.  

Comparisons with Saving Private Ryan seem inevitable…and I found this series more enjoyable. Being a miniseries, it could cover much more than the film did, and the characters do not come across as cliched, even though several seem impossible (Lt. Spiers sprinting across a battlefield between Item and Easy Companies in episode 7 ‘The Breaking Point’ comes to mind: “At first the Germans didn’t shoot at him. I think they couldn’t quite believe what they were seeing. But that wasn’t the really astounding thing. The astounding thing was that after he hooked up with I Company, he came back.” But that’s where legends come from).

Nevertheless, there are some negatives to my experience as a viewer. The different directors (there were nine in total, if I’m not mistaken) tried various techniques, and the discrepancies between episodes were sometimes jarring. Perhaps this was largely dictated by the screenplays, but since the director of one episode in question was also involved as a writer in the series, I am unwilling to discount the importance of their influence. Also, some of the episodes became somewhat tedious once in a while, though this could have had more to do with me virtually marathoning the series (I watched it in two shifts).

Wikipedia notes that the identities of the interviewed veterans are revealed only at the end of the series…I seem to remember names popping up here in there during the course of my viewing of it, but it’s impossible for me to check atm. There’s a high chance that I’ll be adding this to my DVD collection someday though ^^.

About karice
MAG fan, translator, and localization project manager. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

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