|Band of Brothers|
|Based on||Band of Brothers|
by Stephen E. Ambrose
|Theme music composer||Michael Kamen|
|Country of origin|
|No. of episodes||10 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||49–70 minutes|
|Production companies||Playtone |
|Distributor||HBO Enterprises |
Warner Bros. Television Distribution (television)
|Original release||September 9 –|
November 4, 2001
|Followed by||The Pacific |
Masters of the Air
Band of Brothers is a 2001 American war drama miniseries based on historian Stephen E. Ambrose's 1992 non-fiction book of the same name. It was created by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, who also served as executive producers, and who had collaborated on the 1998 World War II film Saving Private Ryan. Episodes first aired on HBO, starting on September 9, 2001. 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 end of World War II. The events are based on Ambrose's research and recorded interviews with Easy Company veterans. The series took some literary license, adapting history for dramatic effect and series structure. The characters portrayed are based on members of Easy Company. Excerpts from interviews with some of the survivors are used as preludes to the episodes, but they are not identified by name until the end of the finale.
The title of the book and series comes from the St Crispin's Day Speech in William Shakespeare's play Henry V, delivered by King Henry 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 finale.
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. Major Richard 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 story's 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.
Band of Brothers was at the time the most expensive TV miniseries ever to have been made by any network. Its budget was about $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 U.S. troops had landed on June 6, 1944. On June 7, 2001, 47 Easy Company veterans were flown to Paris and then traveled 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 million 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 ten months on Ellenbrooke Fields, 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 twelve 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-Day Normandy 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 more than 30 years after his death in a boating accident. In Band of Brothers Ambrose quoted liberally from Webster's unpublished diary entries, with permission from his estate.[note 1]
The production team consulted Dale Dye, a retired United States Marine Corps captain and consultant on Saving Private Ryan, as well as with most of the surviving Easy 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 with the individuals they were to portray before filming, 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.
Shortly after the premiere of the series, Tom Hanks asked Major Winters what he thought of Band of Brothers. The major responded, "I wish that it would have been more authentic. I was hoping for an 80 percent solution." Hanks responded, "Look, Major, this is Hollywood. At the end of the day we will be hailed as geniuses if we get this 12 percent right. We are going to shoot for 17 percent."
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 April 27, 1945. German historian and Holocaust researcher Anton Posset worked with Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks as a consultant, providing photographs of the liberators and documentation of the survivor's reports he had collected over the years. The camp was reconstructed in England for the miniseries.
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.[note 2] 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.[failed verification] 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. Major Dick Winters, who commanded the 2nd Battalion of the U.S. 506th PIR in May 1945, stated that they entered Berchtesgaden shortly after noon on May 5. He challenged competing claims stating, "If the 7th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Division was first in Berchtesgaden, just where did they go? Berchtesgaden is a relatively small community. I walked into the Berchtesgaden Hof with Lieutenant Welsh and saw nobody other than some servants. Goering's Officers' Club and wine cellar certainly would have caught the attention of a French soldier from LeClerc's 2nd Armored Division, or a rifleman from the U.S. 3rd Division. I find it hard to imagine, if the 3rd Division was there first, why they left those beautiful Mercedes staff cars untouched for our men."
Since Band of Brothers focuses entirely on the exploits of "E" (Easy) Company during World War II, the series features a large ensemble cast.
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Main character||Original air date||US viewers|
|1||"Currahee"||Phil Alden Robinson||Teleplay by : Erik Jendresen and Tom Hanks||Richard Winters and Herbert Sobel||September 9, 2001||9.90|
|Easy Company trains at Camp Toccoa, Georgia, under First Lieutenant/Captain Herbert Sobel, a very strict disciplinarian who drives his company harder than the commanders of other companies. Sobel also goes out of his way to find fault with the men and the platoon leaders. The company is shipped to England in September 1943 to prepare for D-Day. As training progresses, Sobel's inadequacies in the field as a leader become more and more apparent. He also initiates a dispute with his executive officer, Lieutenant/First Lieutenant Richard Winters, that escalates higher than Sobel anticipated. As a result, all of the non-commissioned officers in his company decide to resign en masse. This forces Colonel Sink, the regiment's commander, to reassign Sobel to command of a jump school for essential non-infantry personnel.|
|2||"Day of Days"||Richard Loncraine||John Orloff||Richard Winters||September 9, 2001||9.90|
|Easy Company lands in Normandy, but is scattered all across the region and away from their designated drop zone. The company commander of Easy goes missing when his plane suffers a direct hit, so First Lieutenant Winters assumes command of Easy. With a small group of men, Winters takes out a set of German gun emplacements at Brécourt and thereby wins the respect of his fellow soldiers as a leader. Recently promoted First Lieutenant Speirs gives German prisoners of war some cigarettes; after the camera pans away, firing is heard.|
|3||"Carentan"||Mikael Salomon||E. Max Frye||Albert Blithe||September 16, 2001||7.27|
Easy Company fights in the Battle of Carentan, in which they lose several men. Rumors start to circulate that Lieutenant Speirs killed a group of German prisoners. The episode focuses on Private Albert Blithe, who struggles with shell shock following the battle. After he is finally spurred into action by Winters during the Battle of Bloody Gulch, Blithe overcomes his fears. Several days later, he is shot through the neck by a sniper while on patrol.Note: The episode ends with the inaccurate statement that Blithe never recovered from his wounds and died in 1948. In reality, he recovered and continued to serve in the Army until his death in Germany as an active-duty serviceman in 1967, holding the rank of master sergeant.
|4||"Replacements"||David Nutter||Graham Yost and Bruce C. McKenna||Denver "Bull" Randleman||September 23, 2001||6.29|
|Replacements join Easy Company, struggling to be accepted by the veterans who fought at Normandy. The company parachutes into the Netherlands as part of Operation Market Garden, where they liberate Eindhoven. During combat in Nuenen, the replacements integrate themselves with the company, but all are forced to retreat. The episode follows Sergeant Denver "Bull" Randleman, the replacements' immediate superior, as he hides from the Germans in Nuenen after being cut off from his unit.|
|5||"Crossroads"||Tom Hanks||Erik Jendresen||Richard Winters||September 30, 2001||6.13|
|Winters, promoted to battalion executive officer, writes an after-action report on an Easy Company attack during the German counter offensive on the Nijmegen salient; he is troubled by the fact that he shot an unarmed, teenage German SS soldier during the attack. This flashback recurs in this and later episodes. Easy participates in Operation Pegasus. Easy Company is sent to Bastogne at the start of the Battle of the Bulge. At the end of the episode, Captain Winters effectively commands the whole battalion.|
|6||"Bastogne"||David Leland||Bruce C. McKenna||Eugene Roe||October 7, 2001||6.42|
|Easy Company fights in the Battle of the Bulge, defending ground near Bastogne, while running low on ammunition and other supplies. The episode focuses on medic Eugene "Doc" Roe as he helps out his fellow soldiers where he can, while also scrounging for medical supplies when they run dangerously low. He also befriends a Belgian nurse in Bastogne; she is later killed during a German bombing raid.|
|7||"The Breaking Point"||David Frankel||Graham Yost||Carwood Lipton||October 14, 2001||6.43|
|Easy Company battles near Foy, Belgium, losing numerous men. Winters and the men are worried about the commitment of First Lieutenant Norman Dike, the company's commander, who is frequently absent without explanation. When Dike screws up while leading the assault on Foy, Winters sends Speirs in to relieve him on the spot. Serving as narrator is First Sergeant Carwood Lipton, who attempts to keep up the morale of the men as they fight in the forest near Foy; after the battle, he receives a field commission as a second lieutenant.|
|8||"The Last Patrol"||Tony To||Erik Bork and Bruce C. McKenna||David Webster||October 21, 2001||5.95|
|In Haguenau, Easy Company gives a cold welcome to new replacement Second Lieutenant Henry S. Jones, fresh from West Point, and to David Webster (who narrates), the latter because, unlike other members of the company who were wounded, he did not sneak out of the hospital early to rejoin his comrades. Jones and Webster participate in a night raid across the river to get prisoners for interrogation, which gains them some respect. Captain Winters is promoted to major, Lipton's commission becomes official, and Jones is promoted to first lieutenant and transferred to the regimental staff.|
|9||"Why We Fight"||David Frankel||John Orloff||Lewis Nixon||October 28, 2001||6.08|
|As Nixon scrounges for his favored whisky, Vat 69, Easy Company enters Germany. Some of the men on patrol stumble across a concentration camp near Landsberg and free the surviving prisoners after realizing that the guards had abandoned their posts. The sight of the victims leaves the soldiers horrified and disgusted. The German locals deny knowing anything about the camp. General Taylor imposes martial law and orders that they clean up the camp, including removing the bodies. The episode closes with Nixon announcing that Hitler has committed suicide.|
|10||"Points"||Mikael Salomon||Erik Jendresen and Erik Bork||Richard Winters||November 4, 2001||5.05|
|The company captures the Eagle's Nest in Berchtesgaden. Finding a vast collection of liquor at Hermann Göring's house, Winters gives Nixon first choice and then allows the rest of the men to take what they want. The battalion heads to Austria, where the end of the war in Europe is announced; those with enough points go home. Believing that his men no longer need him, Winters applies for a transfer to the Pacific Theater, but the officer in charge tells him his men have earned the right to keep him around. If the 101st is transferred to the Pacific, he will be put in command of a battalion. Despite the peace and the relative ease of life in Salzburg, men continue to be injured and die. Over a company baseball game, Winters tells (in voice-over) the fates of some of the men playing in it. He interrupts the game to announce the surrender of Japan, which ends the war in Asia. The survivors offer some final comments, and their names are displayed.|
Band of Brothers has a 97% approval rating with an average score of 8.83/10 based on 32 reviews from Rotten Tomatoes. The website's critics consensus is, "Band of Brothers offers a visceral, intense look at the horrors of war – and the sacrifices of the millions of ordinary people who served."
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").
Band of Brothers' September 9, 2001 premiere drew 10 million viewers. Two days later, the September 11 attacks occurred, and HBO immediately ceased its marketing campaign. Hence, while the second episode drew 7.2 million viewers, the last episode 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.' In September 2019, The Guardian ranked the show 68th on its list of the 100 best TV shows of the 21st century, stating that it "expanded the horizons – and budgets – of prestige TV".
|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|
|Best Miniseries or Television Film||Won|
|Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Film||Damian Lewis||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries, or Television Film||Ron Livingston||Nominated|
All ten parts of the miniseries were released in VHS and DVD box sets on November 5, 2002. The DVD 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.
In U.S. Seventh Army's XV Corps area, 7th Inf of 3d Div, crossing into Austria, advances through Salzburg to Berchtesgaden without opposition.
"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.)
3d Division units got into Berchtesgaden ahead of us on the afternoon of May 4
A number of books give further insight into Easy Company: