Sunday, December 14, 2008

Brad's All-Time Fave Films: #1

Band of Brothers (2001)

And at long last, after 16 months, I have finally announced the winner of the coveted top spot on my list of all-time favorites. HBO's Band of Brothers, while in actual fact a 10-part miniseries, makes number one on the chart because I consider it to be one 10-hour story. Based on Stephen Ambrose's book of the same name, it is truly a masterpiece that can be watched over and over (as I have).

For the few of you that aren't actually familiar, Band of Brothers tells the true story of the men of Easy Company in the 101st Airborne during World War II. Part One starts with the recently-enlisted men going through the rigors of basic training, and follows them through operations on D-Day, in Holland, France, and eventually Germany. Some of the soldiers are invariably lost along the way, but being an accurate portrayal of war, it's something we as viewers must expect.

Because the film spans 10 parts, we are given the opportunity to really identify with the soldiers, come to know them, their nicknames and their idiosyncracies. Actual interviews with the real-life former soldiers (now in their 70's or 80's) at the start of each part help solidify the reality behind what these great men went through. Their identities are not revealed until the final part, but a great casting job by the filmmakers allow us to pick some of them out early.

Finishing the set is a very fulfilling and moving experience, and even as a male, I can't help but feel the heart strings pulled as the real-life Dick Winters, fighting off tears and with a quivering jaw, relates the following as the series fades to the final credits:

"I treasure my remark to my grandson, who asked, 'Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?' Grandpa said, 'No ... but I served in a company of heroes.'"