‘From this day to the ending of the world we in it shall be remembered. We lucky few, we band of brothers. For he who today sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.’
Band of Brothers depicts the history of Easy Company, an American Parachute infantry regiment who fought during the Second World War. The 10 part series portrays the true stories of the soldiers of the regiment, and each episode begins with the surviving men’s accounts of their experiences. From the first episode of the training in the US to the final episode, where Hitler’s infamous Eagle’s Nest is revealed in the Alps, we follow the soldiers through battles in Belgium, France, Holland and Germany.
Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg present an intense, highly realistic and very graphic portrayal of the war, which is arguably more gripping and certainly more accurate than Saving Private Ryan. The quality of the Band of Brothers series is surprisingly good, and can undoubtedly be added to the list of essential on-screen depictions of the war. It certainly tops my list.
The series represents many key aspects of the conflict: the landing in Normandy; the liberation of Eindhoven; the fighting at Bastogne; and the joy at discovering the Eagle’s Nest. Arguably, the greatest episode of the series is not one of extreme violence or adrenaline pumping battle, but instead the discovery of Kaufering concentration camp in Bavaria, Germany, which is presented in episode 9. This episode, away from the ruthlessness and violence of fighting, highlights the significance of the war, and soldiers who have become dehumanized by war are broken by the experience.
For someone who can’t even stand the sight of her own blood, it was a challenge at times to watch the blood and gore of the production, but the tragic nature of friendships and brotherhoods torn apart was far more shocking than the dismantled legs and severed arteries. Band of Brothers is not simply a display of blood, weapons and carnage which seeks to cater for the testosterone driven viewer, but instead depicts a war of heartbreak, brotherhood and a real authentic picture of the historical events and the lives of soldiers that can be enjoyed by all, although a strong stomach would certainly help.
Easy Company entered Belgium with 145 soldiers in June 1944, after the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944 only 63 remained.