Never touch your idols: the gilding will stick to your fingers.
Il ne faut pas toucher aux idoles: la dorure en reste aux mains.
― Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
How I love when art gets meta: when a writer or artist has the self-awareness and genuine capacity to make fun of themselves. That’s what we mean when we say the writing is “honest”. There’s no agenda to convince or win over the reader, just a need to show, everything, even the warty not-attractive bits.
This week marks the 74th anniversary of the Siege at Bastogne, a pivotal confrontation in Battle of the Bulge, which saw the Allied forces assert their most courageous and bloody defense against the last big push by Nazi forces in WWII.
The Bastogne episode of Band of Brothers was arguably the most emotionally intense and beautifully filmed of the series. It was like watching a dream sequence through a filter of constant snow, a bitter cold that you could almost feel in your bones as you’re watching. Like an opera of bodies, bent over, running for cover, crouching near trees, or frozen solid to the ground. You could watch all the action without sound and still feel it viscerally.
Did anyone see the new Star Wars this weekend? The sight of the salt planet with the blood red soil under the thin layer of salt brought immediately to this viewer’s mind the red against white of the smoke grenades the soldiers in Band of Brothers set off to obscure their positions from the Germans. Such a visually poignant and memorable cinematic effect.
Seventeen years ago on September 9, 2001, a documentary-like mini-series tribute to D-Day and to WWII, Band of Brothers, aired its two first episodes. Two days later that same year the world turned upside down. It was very difficult for any entertainment to be very entertaining in the days after September 11, 2001. If there were people who looked at ratings, advertising revenue, critical reviews and other such metrics to gauge the success of a series, chances are that they, like the rest of us, were distracted by other headlines. On this anniversary, I wanted to examine how Band of Brothers was perceived by critics, before and after September 11, 2001.
Band of Brothers is a masterful series that taps into every possible emotion that you can feel and it pulls absolutely no punches when trying to display and emphasise the horrors the men and woman fighting in World War II faced.
Band of Brothers sets out to remember those who served in World War II and show us what they had to endure. There is so much for each of us to take from the series, but my own impressions are that the intention was not to glorify war or to paint these men as superhuman.
There is a touching moment (among many) in the extras when Major Dick Winters quotes a passage from a letter he received from Sergeant Mike Ranney, “I cherish the memories of a question my grandson asked me the other day when he said, ‘Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?’ Grandpa said ‘No…but I served in a company of heroes’.”Continue reading “Remembrance 2018”
On the 17th anniversary of Band of Brothers, my post will be a revisit to my second post on this blog, “Before Nicholas Brody, there was Dick Winters”. Seems the love for Band of Brothers has never abated in anyone’s minds and the honor of portraying a true American hero lives on in Damian’s mind too. He tweeted on Winters’ death anniversary:
RIP MAJOR DICK WINTERS who died on this day 2011. An honour to have portrayed you. A man of few words and heroic actions. An inspiration to us all.