Band of Brothers

Band of Brothers takes the viewer into the experience of battle: the confusion, the camaraderie, and the horror.

As acclaimed as it’s been for the last twenty years, I hadn’t necessarily expected to like it. I don’t have an easy time following war stories and don’t enjoy them much. I understand now why it’s still renowned and hasn’t lost an inch of status over that time: The storytelling and production value is phenomenal. The emotional journey of the group of main characters is rich and compelling. There’s a reason it was nominated for 20 Emmys and won four.

I’ve meant to watch ever since I saw it playing at Crif Dogs in Brooklyn a few years ago. It was just me and one employee in the place. I asked what it was, and he highly recommended it. Then recently I heard Ron Moore refer to it on an Outlander podcast. I’ve been watching season one with commentary so he actually probably mentioned it around the same time. He was referring to a moment where someone is promoted and can no longer enjoy the same kind of kinship with his unit. I’ve just spent the last hour trying unsuccessfully to locate the quote… but I did find that Suzanne Smith cast both Outlander and Band of Brothers! And not for nothing, the casting is one of the things at which Band of Brothers most notoriously excelled.

Here’s an ASC article that explains the memorable visual style: largely handheld, “heightened contrast, and lowered saturation.” The article goes into satisfying technical depth explaining the lighting, rigging and choice of film. I will mention one fun tidbit from the planes in episode two: waving CTO gel in front of lightning strikes units to emulate a natural gunfire effect. The details about the Bastogne forest are mind blowing, especially the laying of cable and generators. I wonder what they’d do now with LEDs… although I’m sure the 70k lightning strikes wouldn’t budge.

The soundtrack is pretty phenomenal too. The theme is still rattling around my head.

Band of Brothers main cast huddle in a covered caravan with Winters (Damian Lewis) standing below with his head popping through the tent.  From right Scott Grimes with a cigarette in his ear, Donnie Wahlberg, Frank John Hughes, Neal McDonough
Andrew Scott in Band of Brothers, wearing full army rigout
Exterior day wide shot.  Ron Livingston sits on a pier and tosses a white shirt to Damien Lewis, wearing only swim trunks standing in the water.  HBO Band of Brothers episode 10.
Damon Driver as a German Soldier from Eugene Oregon in Band of Brothers talks to Scott Grimes as Malarkey in Band of Brothers episode 2
Medium shot of Matthew Settle as Ronald C. Speirs in Band of Brothers in an army helmet holding a cigarette in his mouth looking to the right.
Scott Grimes as Donald Malarkey in Band of Brothers with a shocked look
Kirk Acevedo as Joe Toye and Shane Taylor as medic Eugene Roe in Band of Brothers.  Toye is on a frosty log and Roe is kneeling beside him in the dark woods of Bastogne.
Neil McDonough as Buck Compton, Frank John Hughes as Bill Guarnere and Robin Laing as Babe Heffron in HBO limited series Band of Brothers.  They are in a foxhole in the snowy Bastogne forest hiding under a fallen tree.
Shane Taylor as Eugene Roe holds a box marked KS filled with medical supplies given by the nurse in the blue kerchief played by Rebecca Okot.  They face each other and behind them a golden church interior.
Damian Lewis as Dick Winters and Neal McDonough as Buck Compton stand looking offscreen to the left in army gear for Band of Brothers

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