Stephen E. Ambrose’s iconic New York Times bestseller about the ordinary men who became the World War II’s most extraordinary soldiers: Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, US Army.
They came together, citizen soldiers, in the summer of 1942, drawn to Airborne by the $50 monthly bonus and a desire to be better than the other guy. And at its peak—in Holland and the Ardennes—Easy Company was as good a rifle company as any in the world.
From the rigorous training in Georgia in 1942 to the disbanding in 1945, Stephen E. Ambrose tells the story of this remarkable company. In combat, the reward for a job well done is the next tough assignment, and as they advanced through Europe, the men of Easy kept getting the tough assignments.
They parachuted into France early D-Day morning and knocked out a battery of four 105 mm cannon looking down Utah Beach; they parachuted into Holland during the Arnhem campaign; they were the Battered Bastards of the Bastion of Bastogne, brought in to hold the line, although surrounded, in the Battle of the Bulge; and then they spearheaded the counteroffensive. Finally, they captured Hitler's Bavarian outpost, his Eagle's Nest at Berchtesgaden.
They were rough-and-ready guys, battered by the Depression, mistrustful and suspicious. They drank too much French wine, looted too many German cameras and watches, and fought too often with other GIs. But in training and combat they learned selflessness and found the closest brotherhood they ever knew. They discovered that in war, men who loved life would give their lives for them.
This is the story of the men who fought, of the martinet they hated who trained them well, and of the captain they loved who led them. E Company was a company of men who went hungry, froze, and died for each other, a company that took 150 percent casualties, a company where the Purple Heart was not a medal—it was a badge of office.
Band of Brothers is a 2001 American war dramaminiseries based on historian Stephen E. Ambrose's 1992 non-fiction book of the same name. The executive producers were Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, who had collaborated on the 1998 World War II film Saving Private Ryan. The episodes first aired in 2001 on HBO. The series won Emmy and Golden Globe awards in 2001 for best miniseries.
The series dramatizes the history of "Easy" Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, of the 101st Airborne Division, from jump training in the United States through its participation in major actions in Europe, up until Japan's capitulation and the war's end. The events are based on Ambrose's research and recorded interviews with Easy Company veterans. The series took literary license, adapting history for dramatic effect and series structure. The characters portrayed are based on members of Easy Company. Some of the men were recorded in contemporary interviews, which viewers see as preludes to each episode, with the men's real identities revealed in the finale.
The title for the book and series comes from the St Crispin's Day Speech in William Shakespeare's play Henry V, delivered by Henry V of England before the Battle of Agincourt. Ambrose quotes a passage from the speech on his book's first page; this passage is spoken by Carwood Lipton in the series's finale.
Main article: List of Band of Brothers episodes
Band of Brothers is a dramatized account of "Easy Company" (part of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment), assigned to the United States Army's 101st Airborne Division during World War II. Over ten episodes the series details the company's exploits during the war. Starting with jump training at Camp Toccoa, Georgia, Band of Brothers follows the unit through the American airborne landings in Normandy, Operation Market Garden, the Siege of Bastogne, and on to the war's end. It includes the taking of the Kehlsteinhaus (Eagle's Nest) at Obersalzberg in Berchtesgaden and refers to the surrender of Japan. MajorRichard Winters (1918–2011) is the central character, shown working to accomplish the company's missions and keep his men together and safe. While the series features a large ensemble cast, each episode generally focuses on a single character, following his action.
As the series is based on historic events, the fates of the characters reflect those of the persons on which they are based. Many either die or sustain serious wounds which lead to their being sent home. Other soldiers recover after treatment in field hospitals and rejoin their units on the front line. Their experiences, and the moral, mental, and physical hurdles they must overcome, are central to the narrative.
The series was developed chiefly by Tom Hanks and Erik Jendresen, who spent months detailing the plot outline and individual episodes.Steven Spielberg served as "the final eye" and used Saving Private Ryan, the film on which he and Hanks had collaborated, to inform the series. Accounts of Easy Company veterans, such as Donald Malarkey, were incorporated into production to add historic detail.
Budget and promotion
Band of Brothers was at the time the most expensive TV miniseries ever to have been made by any network, until superseded by the series's sister show, The Pacific (2010). Its budget was approximately $125 million, or an average of $12.5 million per episode.
An additional $15 million was allocated for a promotional campaign, which included screenings for World War II veterans. One was held at Utah Beach, Normandy, where US troops had landed on June 6, 1944. On June 7, 2001, 47 Easy Company veterans were flown to Paris and then travelled by chartered train to the site, where the series premiered. Also sponsoring was Chrysler, as its Jeeps were used in the series. Chrysler spent $5 to $15 million on its advertising campaign, using footage from Band of Brothers. Each of the spots was reviewed and approved by the co-executive producers Hanks and Spielberg.
The BBC paid £7 million ($10.1 million) as co-production partner, the most it had ever paid for a bought-in program, and screened it on BBC Two. Originally, it was to have aired on BBC One but was moved to allow an "uninterrupted ten-week run", with the BBC denying that this was because the series was not sufficiently mainstream. Negotiations were monitored by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who spoke personally to Spielberg.
The series was shot over eight to 10 months at Hatfield Aerodrome in Hertfordshire, England. Various sets, including replicas of European towns, were built. This location had also been used to shoot the film Saving Private Ryan. Replicas were constructed on the large open field to represent 12 different towns, among them Bastogne, Belgium; Eindhoven, Netherlands; and Carentan, France.North Weald Airfield in Essex was also used for location shots depicting the take-off sequences before the D-DayNormandy landings.
The village of Hambleden, in Buckinghamshire, England, was used as a location extensively in the early episodes to depict the company's training in England, as well as in later scenes. The scenes set in Germany and Austria were shot in Switzerland, in and near the village of Brienz in the Bernese Oberland, and at the nearby Hotel Giessbach.
To preserve historical accuracy, the writers conducted additional research. One source was the memoir of Easy Company soldier David Kenyon Webster, Parachute Infantry: An American Paratrooper's Memoir of D-Day and the Fall of the Third Reich (1994). This was published by LSU Press, following renewed interest in World War II and almost 40 years after his death in a boating accident. (Ambrose had in his 1992 book quoted liberally from Webster's unpublished diary entries, with permission from his estate).
The production team consulted with Dale Dye, a retired United States Marine Corps Captain and consultant on Saving Private Ryan, as well as with most of the surviving Company veterans, including Richard Winters, Bill Guarnere, Frank Perconte, Ed Heffron, and Amos Taylor. Dye (who portrays Colonel Robert Sink) instructed the actors in a 10-day boot camp.
The production aimed for accuracy in the detail of weapons and costumes. Simon Atherton, the weapons master, corresponded with veterans to match weapons to scenes, and assistant costume designer Joe Hobbs used photos and veteran accounts.
Most actors had contact before filming with the individuals they were to portray, often by telephone. Several veterans came to the production site. Hanks acknowledged that alterations were needed to create the series: "We've made history fit onto our screens. We had to condense down a vast number of characters, fold other people's experiences into 10 or 15 people, have people saying and doing things others said or did. We had people take off their helmets to identify them, when they would never have done so in combat. But I still think it is three or four times more accurate than most films like this." As a final accuracy check, the veterans saw previews of the series and approved the episodes before they were aired.
Liberation of one of the Kaufering subcamps of Dachau was depicted in episode 9 ("Why We Fight"); however, the 101st Airborne Division arrived at Kaufering Lager IV subcamp on the day after it was discovered by the 134th Ordnance Maintenance Battalion of the 12th Armored Division, on 27 April 1945.
It is uncertain which Allied unit was first to reach the Kehlsteinhaus; several claim the honor, compounded by confusion with the town of Berchtesgaden, which was taken on May 4 by forward elements of the 7th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division.[a] Reputedly members of the 7th went as far as the elevator to the Kehlsteinhaus, with at least one individual claiming he and a partner continued on to the top. However, the 101st Airborne maintains it was first both to Berchtesgaden and the Kehlsteinhaus.[not in citation given] Also, elements of the French 2nd Armored Division, Laurent Touyeras, Georges Buis and Paul Répiton-Préneuf, were present on the night of May 4 to 5, and took several photographs before leaving on May 10 at the request of US command, and this is supported by testimonies of the Spanish soldiers who went along with them.
Cast and characters
Since Band of Brothers focuses entirely on the exploits of "E" (Easy) Company during World War II, the series features a large ensemble cast.
Appearing in all ten episodes:
- Damian Lewis as Major Richard "Dick" Winters, the show's main character. He leads the cast for most of the episodes and is the main subject of the second episode "Day of Days", the fifth episode "Crossroads", and the final episode, "Points". Hanks said the production needed a central character to tie the story together, and they believed that Damian Lewis was best for that role.[not in citation given]
- Ron Livingston as Captain Lewis Nixon, Major Winters' best friend and frequent confidant during the series. The ninth episode "Why We Fight" largely centers on him, dealing with his problems with alcoholism, in particular.
- Donnie Wahlberg as Second Lieutenant Carwood Lipton. The seventh episode "The Breaking Point" features Lipton prominently and shows the importance he played in maintaining the company's morale.
- Scott Grimes as Technical Sergeant Donald Malarkey
- Peter Youngblood Hills as Staff Sergeant Darrell "Shifty" Powers
- Shane Taylor as Technician Fourth Grade Eugene "Doc" Roe. The sixth episode "Bastogne" features Roe's experience as a medic during the siege of Bastogne.
Appearing in nine episodes:
- Rick Gomez as Technician Fourth Grade George Luz
- Michael Cudlitz as Staff Sergeant Denver "Bull" Randleman. Randleman was the subject of the fourth episode, "Replacements", which featured his escape from a German-occupied village in the Netherlands.
- Nicholas Aaron as Private First Class Robert "Popeye" Wynn
- Ross McCall as Technician Fifth Grade Joseph Liebgott
- James Madio as Technician Fourth Grade Frank Perconte.
- Philip Barrantini as Private Wayne A. "Skinny" Sisk
- Dexter Fletcher as Staff Sergeant John "Johnny" Martin
Appearing in eight episodes:
Appearing in seven episodes or fewer:
Band of Brothers received critical acclaim, mixed with doubts about the handling of individual characters.
CNN's Paul Clinton said that the miniseries "is a remarkable testament to that generation of citizen soldiers, who responded when called upon to save the world for democracy and then quietly returned to build the nation that we now all enjoy, and all too often take for granted." Caryn James of The New York Times called it "an extraordinary 10-part series that masters its greatest challenge: it balances the ideal of heroism with the violence and terror of battle, reflecting what is both civilized and savage about war." James also remarked on the generation gap between most viewers and characters, suggesting this was a significant hurdle. Robert Bianco of USA Today wrote that the series was "significantly flawed and yet absolutely extraordinary—just like the men it portrays," rating the series four out of four stars. He noted however that it was hard to identify with individual characters during crowded battle scenes.
Philip French of The Guardian commented that he had "seen nothing in the cinema this past year that impressed me as much as BBC2's 10-part Band of Brothers, produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, and Ken Loach's The Navigators on Channel 4", and that it was "one of the best films ever made about men in war and superior in most ways to Saving Private Ryan." Matt Seaton, also in The Guardian, wrote that the film's production was "on such a scale that in an ad hoc, inadvertent way it gives one a powerful sense of what really was accomplished during the D-Day invasion - the extraordinary logistical effort of moving men and matériel in vast quantities."
Tom Shales of The Washington Post wrote that though the series is "at times visually astonishing," it suffers from "disorganization, muddled thinking and a sense of redundancy." Shales observed that the characters are hard to identify: "Few of the characters stand out strikingly against the backdrop of the war. In fact, this show is all backdrop and no frontdrop. When you watch two hours and still aren't quite sure who the main characters are, something is wrong."
Band of Brothers has become a benchmark for World War II series. The German series Generation War, for example, was characterized by critics as Band of Brüder (the German word for "Brothers").
The premiere of Band of Brothers on September 9, 2001, drew 10 million viewers. Two days later, the September 11 attacks occurred, and HBO immediately ceased its marketing campaign. The second episode drew 7.2 million viewers. The last episode of the miniseries received 5.1 million viewers, the smallest audience.
The series was nominated for twenty Primetime Emmy Awards, and won seven, including Outstanding Miniseries and Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special. It also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television,American Film Institute Award for TV Movie or Miniseries of the Year,Producers Guild of America Award for Outstanding Producer of Long-Form Television, and the TCA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries, and Specials,. The show was also selected for a Peabody Award for '...relying on both history and memory to create a new tribute to those who fought to preserve liberty.'
Primetime Emmy Awards
|Outstanding Miniseries||Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman, Tony To, Stephen E. Ambrose, Eric Bork, Eric Jendresen, Mary Richards||Won|
|Outstanding Achievement in Interactive Television Programming||Won|
|Outstanding Art Direction for a Miniseries or Movie||Anthony Pratt, Dom Dossett, Alan Tomkins, Kevin Philpps, Desmond Crowe, Malcolm Stone||“The Breaking Point”||Nominated|
|Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special||Meg Liberman, Camille H. Patton, Angela Terry, Gary Davy, Suzanne M. Smith||Won|
|Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or Movie||Remi Adefarasin||“The Last Patrol”||Nominated|
|Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special||David Frankel, Tom Hanks, David Nutter, David Leland, Richard Loncraine, Phil Alden Robinson, Mikael Salomon, Tony To||Won|
|Outstanding Hairstyling for a Miniseries or Movie||Helen Smith & Paula Price||“Crossroads”||Nominated|
|Outstanding Main Title Design||Michael Riley, Michelle Dougherty, Jeff Miller, Jason Web||Nominated|
|Outstanding Make-up for a Miniseries or Movie (Non-Prosthetic)||Liz Tagg & Nikita Rae||“Why We Fight”||Nominated|
|Outstanding Prosthetic Make-up for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special||Daniel Parker, Matthew Smith, Duncan Jarman||“Day of Days”||Nominated|
|Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries or Movie||Frances Parker||“Day of Days”||Won|
|Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special||Campbell Askew, Paul Conway, James Boyle, Ross Adams, Andy Kennedy, Howard Halsall, Robert Gavin, Grahame Peters, Michael Higham, Dashiell Rae, Andie Derrick, Peter Burgis||“Day of Days”||Won|
|Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or Movie||Colin Charles, Mike Dowson, Mark Taylor||“Carentan”||Won|
|David Stephenson, Mike Dowson, Mark Taylor||“Day of Days”||Nominated|
|Colin Charles, Keven Patrick Burns, Todd Orr||“The Breaking Point”||Nominated|
|Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special||Angus Bickerton, John Lockwood, Ken Dailey, Joe Pavlo, Mark Nettleton, Michael Mulholland, Joss Williams, Nigel Stone||“Replacements”||Nominated|
|Angus Bickerton, Mat Beck, Cindy Jones, Louis Mackall, Nigel Stone, Karl Mooney, Laurent Hugueniot, Chas Cash||“Day of Days”||Nominated|
|Outstanding Stunt Coordination||Greg Powell||“Carentan”||Nominated|
|Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special||Erik Bork, E. Max Frye, Tom Hanks, Erik Jendresen, Bruce C. McKenna, John Orloff, Graham Yost||Nominated|
Golden Globe Awards
Home video releases
All ten parts of the miniseries were released in a DVD box set on November 5, 2002. The set includes five discs containing all the episodes, and a bonus disc with the behind-the-scenes documentary We Stand Alone Together: The Men of Easy Company and the video diary of actor Ron Livingston, who played Lewis Nixon. A collector's edition of the box set was also released, containing the same discs but held in a tin case. Band of Brothers is one of the best-selling TV DVD sets of all time, having sold about $250 million worth as of 2010.
The series was released as an exclusive HD DVD TV series in Japan in 2007. With the demise of the format, they are currently out of production. A Blu-ray Disc version of Band of Brothers was released on November 11, 2008 and has become a Blu-ray Disc top seller.
- ^Rupert Smith. "Steven Spielberg's controversial Band Of Brothers | Film". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
- ^"Early Modernity and Video Games - Google Books". Books.google.com. 2014-06-26. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
- ^ ab"Drama: Band of Brothers". BBC.co.uk. Retrieved: 2008-06-09.
- ^Biggest Brother: The Life of Dick Winters
- ^"Trigger Time by 101st historian Mark Bando has a detailed discussion of the miniseries's historical accuracy". 101airborneww2.com. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
- ^Mifflin, Lawrie. "TV Notes ; World War II, The Mini-Series". The New York Times.
- ^ abcdefgHohenadel, Kristin (2000-12-17). "Television/Radio ; Learning How the Private Ryans Felt and Fought". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-24.
- ^ abCarter, Bill (2001-09-03). "On Television ; HBO Bets Pentagon-Style Budget on a World War II Saga". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-24.
- ^ abLevin, Gary (2001-01-09). "'Brothers' invades fall lineup HBO's WWII miniseries battles network premieres". USA Today.
- ^"Pop Eater/AOL News: The Pacific TV miniseries $200+ million budget". Popeater.com. 2010-08-27. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
- ^"Manila Bulletin: The Pacific: most expensive miniseries ever made (last paragraph)". Mb.com.ph. 2010-03-07. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
- ^Ross Bonander (2010-03-14). "The Pacific: 5 Things You Didn't Know". Askmen. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
- ^Levin, Gary (2001-04-18). "HBO Cable network sets itself apart with daring fare". USA Today.
- ^ abcRiding, Alan (2001-06-07). "Arts Abroad ; A Normandy Landing, This One for a Film". The New York Times.
- ^ abcElliott, Stuart (2001-09-10). "The Media Business: Advertising ; Jeep's manufacturer seeks to capitalize on the vehicle's featured role in 'Band of Brothers.'". The New York Times.
- ^"Spielberg epic loses prime slot". BBC News. August 15, 2001.
- ^"The true drama of war". New Statesman. October 8, 2001.
- ^Hellen, Nicholas (2001-04-08). "BBC pays Pounds 15m for new Spielberg war epic". The Sunday Times.
- ^Garner, Clare (1999-12-01). "Hatfield prepares for invasion of Spielberg brigade". The Independent.
- ^ abHuff, Richard (2001-09-09). "Actors & Vets Bond In 'Band Of Brothers'". Daily News. New York.
- ^MacDonald, Sandy (2002-09-15). "Miniseries put actors through boot camp". Daily News. Halifax.
- ^"The 101st Airborne Division". The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Retrieved 2016-05-09.
- ^"The 12th Armored Division". The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
- ^"The 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum:Liberation of Concentration Camps". The 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
- ^ abWorld War II: Race to Seize Berchtesgaden HistoryNet 12 June 2006
- ^United States Army in World War II, Special Studies, Chronology 1941-1945  "In U.S. Seventh Army's XV Corps area, 7th Inf of 3d Div, crossing into Austria, advances through Salzburg to Berchtesgaden without opposition".
- ^Dwight D. Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe 418 (1948) (The exact quote from page 418 reads "On May 4 the 3d division of the same corps captured Berchtesgaden." The corps mentioned was the US XV Corps. The term "Eagle's Nest" is not in the quote nor the paragraph that mentions the capture of Berchtesgaden.
- ^Maxwell D. Taylor, Swords and Plowshares 106 (1972) "3d Division units got into Berchtesgaden ahead of us on the afternoon of May 4"
- ^Library of Congress: Veterans History Project: Interview with Herman Finnell: Herman Louis Finnell of the 3rd Division, 7th Regiment, Company I, stated that he and his ammo carrier, Pfc. Fungerburg, were the first to enter the Eagle's Nest, as well as the secret passages below the structure. Finnell stated that the hallway below the structure had rooms on either side filled with destroyed paintings, evening gowns, destroyed medical equipment and a wine cellar.
- ^Easy Company of the 2nd Battalion 506th Regiment, US 101st Airborne Division: Video: Allies Sign Control Law For Germany,1945/06/14 (1945). Universal Newsreel. 1945. Retrieved February 20, 2012.
- ^Georges Buis and Jean Lacouture, Les Fanfares perdues : Entretiens avec Jean Lacouture, Seuil press, 1975.
- ^Mesquida, Evelyn (April 2010). La Nueve. Los españoles que liberaron París [The Nine. The Spaniards who liberated Paris] (in Spanish).
- ^Kronke, David (2001-09-02). "Battle ready; World War II Miniseries by Hanks, Spielberg Coming To HBO". Los Angeles Daily News.
- ^CNN, Enlist TV for 'Band of Brothers' September 7, 2001 Posted: 11:55 AM EDT (1555 GMT)
- ^James, Caryn (2001-09-07). "TV Weekend; An Intricate Tapestry Of a Heroic Age". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-24.
- ^Bianco, Robert (2001-09-07). "'Band' masterfully depicts horror, complexity of war". USA Today.
- ^French, Philip (23 December 2001). "Diamonds in the dross: Films of the year". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
- ^Seaton, Matt (24 September 2001). "Too close for comfort". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
- ^Shales, Tom (2001-08-07). "'Band of Brothers': Ragged WWII Saga Off to a Slow March". The Washington Post.
- ^"Band of Brüder: a German view of wartime". The Irish Times. Retrieved July 8, 2013.