Dinner and a Movie

Thursday, November 15, 2007
Last night, mom and I chowed down on hamburgers and potato salad. All in all, a pretty good “comfort food” meal although it’s put me off red meat again. The cats were going crazy, trying to take a nibble off of each of our plates (we ate in front of the TV) but we managed to fend them off long enough to fill our bellies. On the playbill for the movie was the first two episodes of the mini-series Band of Brothers. I own the box set but mom had never seen it, and given the weekend’s Remembrance Day ceremonies, it seemed like a good choice. Mom loved it (whew! Score another one for me!).

Band of Brothers recounts the exploits of the men of Easy Company, 506 Parachute Infantry division during the last years of the second world war. Director Tom Hanks did an excellent job in portraying them as “ordinary” men, which in fact they were: they came from small towns and big cities, the boys next door and the neighbourhood hustlers, your average joes. I appreciated the fact that while there are a few faces you’d recognize easily (David Schwimmer, Simon Pegg, Donny Wahlberg, Scott Grimes, Neal McDonough, and Ron Livingston amongst them), the majority of the cast were lesser known, at least to American audiences (Damien Lewis and Dexter Fletcher are becoming more recognizable) and you weren’t distracted by “celebrity”. I was however constantly remarking to my mother “Hey, there’s Dale Dye…you know? That guy who’s in every army movie ever made!” or distracted by the fact that I kept recognizing actors from the UK and wondering what happened to their accents.

In the first episode, Curahee, we’re introduced to the men of Easy Company while they’re still training to become paratroopers. Under the “guidance” of Lt. Sobel, easily one of the biggest and dorkiest dickwads in military movie history, the men form a close bond – you might say they become like a band of brothers…? Ok, that was cheesy. Let’s move on. Sobel, played by Schwimmer, earns the animosity of all the men, officers included but ends up forming them into the best trained Company in the battalion (? – I hope that’s the correct term). The men are quickly shipped off to England aboard what has to be the most overly crowded ship ever to set sail. More indepth real training ensues – no more running through tires for these boys. Sobel continues to show his inability to lead and causes his NCO’s to rebel. A group of seargents write to Sobel’s commander refusing to follow him into combat, an act that, at any other time, would have resulted in possibly ending up in front of a firing squad. However, as the Allies are preparing for the D-Day invasion, they can’t afford the loss of somewhat experienced soldiers. A few are transferred or demoted but for the most part they’re just chewed out by Dale Dye (not a something I’d enjoy – just look at how he yelled at Michael J. Fox in Casulties of War…scary). Sobel is ultimately transferred to a new paratrooper school and everyone’s happy (except him, naturally). After a few delays, the boys board their planes and set off for Normandy.

Episode 2, Day of Days, picks up where they left off – over the English Channel on the way to Europe and the war. Encountering heavy anti-aircraft and machine gun fire, many of the planes are either destroyed or have to drop their paratroopers far from their allotted drop zones. As a result, the Allied forces are spread all over with men from various companies forming new units until they can rejoin their own. The focus of this, shorter, episode is following the paratroopers as they start to filter into their prearranged meeting spots, and their introduction to real combat. Additionally, Easy Company is chosen to destroy a German anti-aircraft gun nest firing on the troops landing on Omaha beach and standing between them and Easy’s target of clearing a causeway to help get supplies to the beach. Definitely an episode which fleshes out (is that the correct term) a number of characters and an interesting look (albeit slightly fictionalized) at a side of the D-Day invasion many don’t think about. After taking out the guns, it’s a few moments of relative peace before Easy Company’s on the move again.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the miniseries yet, I highly recommend it.


Sheamus the... said...

I love this series...my fave characters are The Medic, Donnie, and of course Winters.

Karen said...

I loved it too which is why I bought it. My faves were Guarnere, Luz, and Perconte.

Heather said...

By far, a favourite of mine. I loved the series.

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