Review of Band of Brothers (2001)

Moving picture, 10 hours

The story of some US paratroopers, approximately from the start of their training to the end of WW2 (with some new introductions along the way), including such highlights as D-Day, Operation Market Garden, the winter of ’44 (when they’re cut off), and a concentration camp. Leadership, courage and camaraderie.

Personal war epic. Some dubious direction, overusing desaturation and shaking cameras. Insufficiently nuanced in political and “moral” issues, despite noteworthy efforts. What about the Russians for example, weren’t they important? What about the excesses of Allied bombing, was rubble the only result of those? It seems as if the Americans just went in there and selflessly did all the work.

I know it is supposed to be a personal view from the ground rather than a documentary about the whole war, or even this couple of years, which makes the prologue interviews pretentious. Greater scope could still have lowered the significant masturbatory nationalist factor. Most of the many and varied darker scenes (bureaucracy, people who just want rank, the American German, summary executions etc.) get insufficient narrative weight. It is also uncomfortable that most of the survivors are great guys, aligned with that strange notion of “the Greatest Generation”. Winters, for example, tries to transfer so he can fight more, despite the fact that he’s too empathetic to fire. The series is pretty good at “undeserved” death, but maybe not so good at “undeserved” success/life. Some well-written characters, awful music. The lack of big names is nice.

moving picture fiction series