(Review originally written at 28 December 2009)
Never before has such a thing hit the small screen before. This mini-series that got developed and produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks is not just only great looking, authentic looking, compelling, spectacular and dramatic, it also got made with all of the right intentions.
They did not just made a WW II mini-series but also a great homage to those who fought during WW II. They did this by brining in some of the real Easy Compagnie veterans, who were still alive at the time. The 10 episodes also feature these veterans often at the beginning and/or end of an episode, reciting some of their memories about the war. We don't know who these veterans that are talking are, not until the very last episode because else you of course already know who survived until the end, which should had taken away some of the series its compelling dramatic and involving elements.
Fore you often feel that you are really a part of these band of brothers as you're watching it. The series puts you right in the middle of all the action and you really feel connected to some of the boys fighting. It makes "Band of Brothers" one of the most compelling experience to ever hit the small screen.
It's an 10 part mini-series, that got directed by 8 different directors and the running time of each episode differs as well. This has as a result that each episode also has a different feel and the story takes a different approach. Often an episode would follow a different character, though the main characters of course at all time remain the same ones. They had to endure a lot of heavy stuff during the war and got deployed at the front or even behind enemy lines in several different European countries. Once you start thinking about it, it seems pretty amazing that some of the guys really went through all of this and made it out alive. Basically everyone got injured once or more at some point, which should give you an impression of the stuff they went through.
Many of the actors who appeared in this mini-series were still relatively unexperienced and unknown. Some of them were obviously cast because they had a real resemblance to the real life soldiers but all of them are great actors in this as well. Some of them have also broken through such as Damian Lewis, Ron Livingston, Donnie Wahlberg, Dexter Fletcher, Neal McDonough and Scott Grimes.
Of course the series has some great but also some somewhat lesser episodes. Some of the episodes do really stand out, such as the ones set in Bastonge but even the somewhat lesser episodes are always compelling to watch. Even when not a lot of fighting is going on the series always manages to suck you right in. This is also because of the series its very authentic look and feel. It was a real expensive production for something that got made for TV and it got made in the same sort of war style as "Saving Private Ryan", which also had Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks involved. It's still a bit weird though seeing how England, Belgium, Holland and France all look the same within this series, which is because it all got shot at the same sets.
I'm also so glad that composer Michael Kamen delivered his best work with this mini-series. He always was a sort of composer who was sort of misunderstood and misused, which never gave him the full credits that he deserved in his life but with this mini-series he showed his true talents and received all the praise for it as well, 2 years before his death, at the age of 55.
This truly is a mini-series that is so incredibly compelling, often shocking, authentic and also really a dramatic experience to watch. The old veteran quoting from a letter at the end of episode 10 gets to me every time and pretty much also sums up as well what this series but also the real life war experience of the second world war was all about for all these young men, so far from home.