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Brothers with arms
by Juliana Elo
Issue 4
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Band of Brothers
David Frankel & Tom Hanks
This series is one of the most beautiful productions I’ve ever seen on the screen, and it’s said to be the most realistic production about the Second World War. It’s a pity it was too long for the cinema. Band of Brothers was on TV here in Finland, something like two years ago, but the best thing is to watch it from the DVD where it’s possible to watch many episodes in a row because it is hard to wait to see the next. The series has ten hour-long episodes and a documentary 'We Stand Along Together', where the veterans characterised in the series get to tell about their own memories, accompanied by old pictures and film footage.

The HBO series Band of Brothers was based on historian Stephen E. Ambrose’s bestseller Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest, about Easy Company of the U.S. Army Airbourne Paratrooper division during the Second World War. It follows from how they were recruited, their training and their brave contributions to liberate Europe.

From D-Day to VE-Day, nothing escapes Ambrose’s precise research. The historian was also a consultant on Saving Private Ryan, the “Hollywood-ish” Spielberg movie that counted Tom Hanks among its cast. Later, they were both moved to produce a more realistic and deeper work about the Second World War, which became Band of Brothers.

In each of the series’ episodes, there are veterans telling about their experiences and then the fiction takes over. Every episode has a different director, bringing narratives from different characters, with different points of view. Band of Brothers leads us to feel what they felt, suffer what they suffered and mainly makes us reflect about what gave courage and sanity to these soldiers no more than boys; they were aged from 18 to 20 during the bloodshed of this war. The series is remarkable through the realism of the images and the discreet but awesome special effects, plus the soundtrack is thrilling.

It’s worth watching the series and reading the book, one doesn’t lower the prestige of the other. In the book there are facts that didn’t fit the series (even Private Ryan’s real history can be found). In the series, one can see and feel what the book tells, with very rich details. Sometimes the character’s experiences appear switched in the series, and a few details were changed in the script in order to make it work better on the scene.

Anyway, the series are loyal to the facts told in the book. The only exception is the 9th episode Why we fight, when E company stumbles upon a Nazi concentration camp. It didn’t really happen to Easy Company, but it happened to many other companies in many places, and what is told in the series is sad but true.

It’s more about friendship than fighting, more about life than death. In these times of anti-Americanism, it works to reminds us all of what USA was once made.

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