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When wars were good and men were noble...
June 4, 2005 8:52 AM   Subscribe

The making of a D-Day tradition... I immediately get goosebumps when I hear the score of Band of Brothers...I'm not sure why, maybe it was my local connections (Dick Winters, Bill Guanere, Albert Blithe, Babe Heffron, Thomas Meehan, Ralph Spina, Harry Welsh, and Robert Strayer are all from Philadelphia), the surrounding suburbs, or Pennsylvania), or maybe it was because the original airings took place in the shadow of 9/11 (the premiere was September 9th, 2001, with the D-Day drop occuring in the second episode, Day of Days, on 9/16/2001), but this series will ALWAYS have a special place in my heart. Everything is done so beautifully, from the special effects, to the sound, the music, to the dutiful translation from Stephen Ambrose book to the screen. It's certainly worthy of the 9.5 out of 10 that IMDB readers had given it. Every year now since, either HBO (On Demand - you have to subscribe to HBO plus have digital cable) or the History Channel has played Tom Hanks' and Steven Spielberg's masterful WW2 epic. You can think of it as Saving Private Ryan, but 3 times as long. Even if war movies are not your thing, I can almost guarantee that they will see the human side of the soldier and becomely deeply invested in the characters. Follow the men of Easy Company from training and the running of Currahee, to the parachute jump on D-Day, through the liberation of Europe, the horror of a German concentration camp, and eventually to the end of the war, to Hitler's mountaintop retreat. I'm not the only one - check out the numerous fan sites to BoB (forum shorthand for Band of Brothers) here, here, and here, as well as entries on TVTome, Wikipedia, and Television without Pity. If you want to try before you commit to watching the whole thing, I'd recommend the episodes Day of Days, Crossroads, and the Breaking Point.
posted by rzklkng (24 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
No argument here, BoB is fantastic. Even my wife, who can't handle Saving Private Ryan, loved it (not so much the gory bits, of course).
posted by schoolgirl report at 9:07 AM on June 4, 2005


You can think of it as Saving Private Ryan, but 3 times as long.

Have to disagree with this - BoB is superior to Speilberg's awful piece of guff on almost every level.
posted by the cuban at 9:15 AM on June 4, 2005


My best friend's brother dressed in his uniform, put on Band of Brothers-loudly-waited till a particular section of music came on, then went outside and blew his brains out.
posted by konolia at 9:22 AM on June 4, 2005


I'm with the cuban. Ryan blows but BoB is excellent.
posted by dobbs at 9:27 AM on June 4, 2005


I just watched all ten episodes back to back over the Memorial Day weekend. So did Kottke.
posted by eamondaly at 9:50 AM on June 4, 2005


konolia, are you familiar with the "Debby Downer" skit on SNL?
posted by jonson at 9:57 AM on June 4, 2005


When wars were good and men were noble...

Dear God I cannot stand the glorfication and romantization of the past. War was ever good? In the 1930s and 40s? When 57 million people were kileld because of it? Men were noble? When we dropped not one but two unnecessary atomic bombs on civilians? When our enemies cooked human beings alive in ovens and made lamp shades from their skin? When we imrisioned thousands of legal immigrants and citizens solely on the basis of their ethnicity?
posted by eustacescrubb at 10:01 AM on June 4, 2005


Band of Brothers may have been great TV, I haven't seen it, but Stephen Ambrose was a damned plagiarist. He plagiarized his whole life, from his dissertation all through his mass produced books. His was not a historian, he was a serial shoplifter.

I spent a few days recently with a famous scholar of Lewis and Clark, who told me that he and several other historians refused to appear on any program with Ambrose, because Ambrose had stolen so many passages from their own books for his Undaunted Courage.
posted by LarryC at 10:12 AM on June 4, 2005


Have to disagree with this - BoB is superior to Speilberg's awful piece of guff on almost every level.
posted by the cuban at 9:15 AM PST on June 4 [!]


The film may have turned a little rah-rah-go-team in the end, but the opening sequence is one of the most important war dramatizations I've ever seen. It sickened me that people were trying to censor the movie when it came out for being too graphic.
posted by jikel_morten at 10:25 AM on June 4, 2005


War was ever good?

No, but it was clearly justifiable, unlike the ambiguity of many conflicts in the past 50 years. The other side started it. They were killing a lot of people. Fighting against that is as close to a "good war" as it ever gets.
posted by pmurray63 at 10:30 AM on June 4, 2005


You can think of it as Saving Private Ryan, but 3 times as long.

It's four hundred hours long????
posted by howfar at 10:44 AM on June 4, 2005


The film may have turned a little rah-rah-go-team in the end, but the opening sequence is one of the most important war dramatizations I've ever seen.

Actually, I was much more moved by Spielberg's previous WWII film, 1941.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 11:23 AM on June 4, 2005


When someone asks me what my favorite movie evar is, I always say Band of Brothers (even though it wasn't actually a "movie").

I went to the WWII Memorial Dedication Ceremony (which was absolutely awesome) and they had a tent set up as a sort of meeting place for all the vets. Each company, regiment, squad, whatever (I'm not good with differentiating all those groups) had their own panel, basically a tall partition where former soliders could thumbtack a note to the rest of their friends sayng "I'm here". The panel for Easy Company of the 101st was EASILY the most popular. Crowds surrounded it all day long, pointing and saying things like, "Hey look, 'Shifty' Powers is here." Fantastic day.

WWII vets are dying at a rate of about 1,000 a day.
posted by Witty at 12:10 PM on June 4, 2005


If we (mostly) ignore konolia's remark, maybe we'll trick ourselves into thinking that it never really happened?

But I digress, this thread wasn't created to discuss some of the nasty side effects of the subject matter. More likely though, to collectively celebrate the heroics of the people who protect our freedom.
posted by futureproof at 12:29 PM on June 4, 2005


but the opening sequence is one of the most important war dramatizations I've ever seen.

Important how? It's a movie, and it's a graphic scene. Important, other than personally, it is not. It won't, nor will it, change a thing.
posted by justgary at 1:42 PM on June 4, 2005


I was at the WWII Memorial dedication myself, and it was indeed quite moving. The most memorable moment for me was seeing tough-as-nails Vietnam vets, there as part of the Ride to the Wall event, giving solemn props to their wheelchair-bound WWII-era brothers.
posted by schoolgirl report at 2:24 PM on June 4, 2005


The other side started it.

Pitiful justification. Trying to define a "good" war using relativism, is like arguing a man who beats his wife is a "good" husband by pointing to Scott Peterson.
posted by iamck at 2:36 PM on June 4, 2005


I liked Saving Private Ryan. However, I absolutely agree that Band of Brothers is much better. There are few mini-series / movies as good.
posted by Bort at 3:13 PM on June 4, 2005


I just bought Band of Brothers from Sam's Club for about $65. I kind of like the tin it came in, but not the accordionfold way they put the stuff inside of it.

I originally got hooked on the series by downloading and netflixing it, then finally decided what the hell, I should just buy the whole thing.

I peeked at the book in the bookstore, but elected not to buy it. The photos were interesting, though. I remember one of Nixon being woken up, and you can see him partially sitting up in bed surrounded by literally scores and scores of empty liquor bottles. Wow. So evidently they didn't exaggerate that part.
posted by beth at 4:27 PM on June 4, 2005


Yes, Band of Brothers is very, very good. Much better than Saving Private Ryan. Once i realized that Ryan was essentially a pro-war movie, the magic kind of went away for me and it soured into beautifully-filmed propaganda, like Triumph of the Will.

Our leaders are strong and wise and compassionate. They really, really care that this woman should spcificallty not have all her sons killed in the war. It may have been based on a true story, but it's a story because it was unusual.

Band if Brothers had a certain cynicism about officers that just rings truer from what i hear from veterans stories about the war. The average GI knew he was being screwed.
posted by Miles Long at 7:17 PM on June 4, 2005


I rented the whole series a couple of years ago, and also caught it on the history channel a few months back. What makes it so compelling is that every event really happened just as it's portrayed, down to the smallest detail. The interviews with the veterans are also very moving. Great television.
posted by Devils Slide at 8:17 PM on June 4, 2005


I heard rumors they were making a sequel with the pacific theater, but nothing ever came of it, I guess. Too bad.
posted by Poagao at 8:38 PM on June 4, 2005


I know this sounds kind of corny, but hardly a day doesn't go by that I don't think of that series. It really was a fantastic event in cinematic history. I have yet to get the series, but I've seen it a few times on HBO when it came out and have read several books on that period in time. Just amazing the amount of detail they put into it.
I'm not at all about the glorfication of war or anything, but the computer game/X-Box game 'Brothers in Arms' is almost like playing a part in a live action re-enactment of the 'Band of Brothers' series. All the missions in the game are re-enactments of actual events that took place from the airborne drop up to the hedgerow fight at Hill 30. If you play through the game they have some great documentary footage and photos showing the details of the villages and areas the game takes place in.
posted by mk1gti at 11:00 PM on June 4, 2005


Once i realized that Ryan was essentially a pro-war movie, the magic kind of went away for me and it soured into beautifully-filmed propaganda, like Triumph of the Will.

Well of course, cos we're all gagging to be maimed, gutted, drowned, knifed, sniped at, machine gunned, beheaded etc. The film is about the sacrifice of a particular generation of American men.
posted by biffa at 3:19 AM on June 6, 2005


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