I just recently watched the series Band of Brothers not too long ago and am still recovering from the emotional roller coaster ride it has taken me on. Over 10 episodes, each lasting about an hour long, I’ve witnessed the true life stories of Easy Company’s journey from the Georgia Mountains to the front line in France to hills of Austria where Hitler lived. Each story diversely tells the tale of how the platoon survived, battles were fought, and their effects on a soldier’s psyche. Brilliantly made and full of gut wrenching moments, I highly recommend you watch this HBO series if you haven’t already.
This is not the story of one man, but a company that has dozens of soldiers. Spanning over 10 episodes, each one takes a different narrative and point of view ranging from a transfer soldier to a medic to a Major. In the beginning there are almost too many guys to remember anyone’s names, but as you progress, faces become familiar the more and more they interact with each other. One man in particular to pay attention to was Lieutenant Richard ‘Dick’ Winters who narrates 3 or 4 of the 10 episodes and his journey as a company leader to a battle field officer. But among him are a crew of interesting and memorable soldiers that carry their own personalities that you slowly come to appreciate and care for as they take on Germany.
If it helps you envision it better, think of this as a ten hour Saving Private Ryan that expands over the whole war instead of one single operation. Like Saving Private Ryan, we get an in-depth look at the bonds between soldiers, the consequences of war, and the breaking points a solder goes through. Each episode has about one mission or so that Easy Company went through and explains in-depth how a certain operation works or how a chain of command operates. And before each episode, there is a small scene where veterans are asked questions in relation to the episode. These heartfelt responses set the tone of the format of the episode we are about to see. By this I mean, one episode can focus on the taking of an outpost and the strategy necessary to take it and another focuses on the difficulties and traumas of a field medic. Each story is as absorbing as the next as we see the rises and falls of Easy Company’s journey through Europe.
Not only does this World War II epic engross you emotionally, it has all the thrill and excitement from Saving Private Ryan’s well shot war scenes that only few movies can rival. The production values are extremely high here [as expected of an HBO series] as we journey all over the world, from villages to towns to the streets of Paris to the hills of Georgia. As a time piece, it functions very well, referencing current events in addition to its believable costume design. There is a tone of grit and greyness that sort of encompasses the idea of how war is dark and grey and truly sets the mood.All of these elements combine to make this series enjoyable to watch on a visual level.
This series suffers few flaws, most of which are probably my fault: 1) not being educated enough in warfare and 2) not paying attention enough. I would imagine any historian nuts and soldiers have an appreciation for this movie I cannot imagine to fathom. This pays homage to the difficult journeys soldiers went on, as seen by the interviews of the veterans that were shown before each episode. Personally, I found it difficult to remember everyone’s names save a few key players, but all these are relatively minor to the general audience. Band of Brothers makes it easy enough for all, no matter who, soldier, historian, or average Joe, to enjoy.
Overall this is one of the best series I’ve ever watched. I highly recommend you pick this up sometime and take the journey yourself. It might be difficult to watch sometimes if you’re queasy or sensitive, but I guarantee you the payoff is worth it.
I think we’re all knowing where I’m headed next. So I’ll see you there.