Band of Brothers

I’ve had Damian Lewis on my mind.

 

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We started watching Homeland yesterday (very, very good show) only because he stars in it. We first saw him when we watched Band of Brothers where he plays the captain of Easy Company from the 101st Airborne division during the Second World War. I swear, the man was born to be in the army…or play an army man!

 

I resisted watching Band of Brothers for several years because “I don’t like war movies! What do you mean they don’t have a love story?” but Bugi finally forced me to watch it last year. It didn’t take long – only one episode into this 10 hour series and I was in love with Dick Winters (the captain) and was completely enamoured with Easy company. I should have known that this would be a fantastic show – just like everything else that Steven Spielberg has produced. And if that wasn’t enough this is one of HBO’s original series and those guys know how to make good TV!

 

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(The Pacific is the sequel to Band of Brothers)

 

Band of Brothers follows Easy Company from 1942 when their training in the US begins to Germany’s capitulation. The war for Easy Company starts with D Day and finishes with taking over the Eagle’s nest (Hitler’s mountain retreat). Many of Easy Company’s offensives are today text book case studies for the military.

 

The most fascinating thing about Band of Brothers is that it is so realistic. It feels so real that it is scary and uncomfortable. It doesn’t sugar code anything in that long established Hollywood tradition. It is based on real events and the episodes were approved by living veterans from Easy Company (including Dick Winters). Band of Brothers is not for the faint hearted. It shows war from different angles, it shows how it changes people and how the line between good and bad, wrong and right is often blurred on the battlefield. Bugi’s favourite thing about Band of Brothers is that it portraits every day life on the front line. You can see how life is living under constant bullets but it also shows how war stops and starts and there is a lot of waiting around, preparing for the next bullet that will come your way.

 

My favourite part about the movie is the sense of community that it portraits among the soldiers. Many of the main characters die, get injured so they are sent home or they go insane so they have to be sent home. But the men become like family during the war – they start as random men that don’t necessarily like each other and bond over the horrors that they see day after day. The interesting thing is that this friendship born in extraordinary circumstances does not seem to translate well in life. Once the war is over the men scatter around the US and see each other only at veteran reunions. It seems that the bond you form during war cannot be easily translated to everyday life.

 

The series is tough to watch and there were many moments when I had to hide below the covers. But the episode that shook me to my core, called “Why We Fight”, was when Easy Company discovers a concentration camp. This is towards the end of the war and the men are exhausted and want to go home. They cannot remember why their lives were interrupted like this and why they had to come to Europe to fight in a war. I did not know that people back then were not aware that concentration camps existed. Sure, they knew that minorities were treated extremely badly but they did not imagine the extent to which this hatred was taken. Who could have imagined, really? So when the men of Easy Company discover a concentration camp in the woods they are shocked. Discovering that a hell like this exists on Earth provides a crystal clear answer to the question “Why We Fight”.

 

Band of Brothers, my friends, is a masterpiece and proves once again that TV is better than cinema these days.

 

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