Band of Brothers (2001): A Moe’s TV Guide Classic Mini-Series review



Band of Brothers Poster


The Mini-Series format of television shows is probably the most unique form of telling a story. Through only a limited number of episodes, the creators, along with their extensive cast and crew, are tasked with providing the audience with a gripping and mesmerizing tale they would not soon forget. It is such a tough achievement that many mini-series have either completely failed or just fell short of being truly memorable pieces of art. Band of Brothers is certainly not one of them. Out of all the mini-series I have seen so far, it is the only one that has lingered long in my memory. With an astonishing cast, a group of the most talented directors and writers, as well as two of Hollywood’s most creative stars as its executive producers, Band of Brothers is certainly a television classic.


Band of Brothers Scene 1


Band of Brothers is produced by the Home Box Office (HBO) American channel and tells the story of Easy Company, from the US Army 101st Airborne division, and their incredible mission through Europe during the Second World War. The mini-series stars an impressive ensemble cast including: Damian Lewis, Ron Livingston, Scott Grimes, Shane Taylor, Rick Gomez, Michael Cudlitz, Kirk Acevedo, Matthew Settle, and Neal McDonough. It is executive produced by Hollywood legends Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks and consists of ten episodes, each running nearly an hour long.


Damian Lewis as Major Richard Winters
Damian Lewis as Major Richard Winters


Band of Brothers is truly blessed with a wealth of wonderful acting talents that are collectively able to seamlessly bring the chaotic and historic moments of World War Two to life on the small screen. With such an unbelievable cast, it is hard to highlight performances that do stand out. However, the two that are certainly the most distinctive are those by actors Damian Lewis and Ron Livingston.

Playing the role of Major Richard Winters, Damian Lewis is pitch-perfect as the charismatic leader of Easy Company. Winters is a soft-spoken yet vocal soldier who exudes an air of command and respect amongst his fellow comrades. The many battles of the war put his character and principles to the test but they never manage to dissuade him from his core values. The biggest compliment I think one can give Damian Lewis in Band of Brothers is his natural ability of portraying Richard Winters without any excessive or unneeded acting. He does so by fully absorbing the role and making us believe and connect with his character, an impressive feat for sure. It is no exaggeration saying that this is really quite an unforgettable performance by Damian Lewis.


Ron Livingston as Captain Lewis Nixon
Ron Livingston as Captain Lewis Nixon


Another actor who deserves attention is Ron Livingston who plays Captain Lewis Nixon. Nixon is a sarcastic and alcoholic soldier who forms a strong friendship with Major Winters. Throughout the many difficult moments of the war, Nixon continues to be Winters’s confidante and adviser, always having his friend’s back. Livingston gives us a performance that is full of drama and comedy. He does so effortlessly and effectively brings his character’s inner struggles to life. As is the case with Lewis, Ron Livingston is at his career-best in Band of Brothers.


Frank John Hughes as William 'Wild Bill' Guarnere (Top) & Kirk Acevedo as Joe Toye (Bottom)
Frank John Hughes as William ‘Wild Bill’ Guarnere (Top) & Kirk Acevedo as Joe Toye (Bottom)


Along with Damian Lewis and Ron Livingston, there is a whole host of terrific performances in Band of Brothers that I really enjoy. There is Frank John Hughes whose character, the witty and foul-mouthed Bill Guarnere, forms a unique friendship with Kirk Acevedo’s Joe Toye; the sensitive and compassionate medic, Eugene Roe, who is excellently depicted to the screen by Shane Taylor; as well as the compelling and mysterious Captain Ronald Speirs, played by Matthew Settle. Those are just a small sample of the magnificent actors that Band of Brothers boasts. It is without a doubt one of television’s greatest ensemble casts ever.


Band of Brothers Scene 2


Of course, this tremendous mini-series would not be such a heralded success if not for the wonderful crew that brought it to the screen. Led by executive producers Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, the group of directors and writers combine their efforts to produce ten stunning television episodes that bring World War Two to life in a way that is uncompromising.

Working with historian and biographer Stephen E. Ambrose’s book of the same title, the Band of Brothers crew is able to successfully bring the messy and brutal landscape of war to the screen with scenes filled with emotion and heart. They make the viewers instantly connect with Easy Company and its colorful group of soldiers. It might sound easy but had the writing or directing been sub-par, the episodes would have all ended up being tedious and boring. Instead, all ten episodes are expertly done and are a joy to watch time and time again. That is all a testament to Spielberg and Hank’s special ability to assemble a gifted crew that is able to produce a really spectacular viewing experience.


Band of Brothers Scene 3


Ever since my fascination with the events and characters of World War Two first started, I have always been waiting for its true portrayal on both the film and television mediums. While there have been many films about World War Two, I find that Band of Brothers dwarfs all of them. The fact that it tells its story across ten one-hour episodes surely helps but it is actually the brilliant cast and crew that make this mini-series unlike any other. Band of Brothers is simply one of the most memorable television experiences anyone will ever encounter and will remain so for many years and decades to come.



Trailer:


Producers:

Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks

Genres:

Action / Drama / War

Cast:

  • Damian Lewis (as Maj. Richard D. Winters)
  • Ron Livingston (as Capt. Lewis Nixon)
  • Scott Grimes as (TSgt. Donald Malarkey)
  • Shane Taylor (as Cpl. Eugene Roe)
  • Frank John Hughes (as SSgt. William ‘Wild Bill’ Guarnere)
  • Donnie Wahlberg (as C. Carwood Lipton)
  • Michael Cudlitz (as Sgt. Denver ‘Bull’ Randleman)
  • Rick Gomez (as Sgt. George Luz)
  • Neal McDonough (as 1st Lt. Lynn ‘Buck’ Compton)
  • Kirk Acevedo (as SSgt. Joseph Toye)
  • Matthew Settle (as Capt. Ronald Speirs)

Favorite Episodes: (Spoiler Alert!)

  • Day of Days (Episode 2)
    • Synopsis: Easy Company are dropped behind enemy lines in Normandy ahead of the Allied Assault on Utah Beach. However, the paratroopers are scattered across the battleground. Winters finds himself landing in enemy territory with only his knife.
  • Crossroads (Episode 5)
    • Synopsis: Winters is promoted after leading a daring attack against the Germans. Meanwhile, he is haunted by the memory of a teenage soldier he killed. Later, Easy Company rushes to the Ardennes Forest to help defend the crossroads of Bastogne from attack. Unfortunately for Easy Company they are short on supplies and are not equipped to deal with the bitter cold weather.
  • Bastogne (Episode 6)
    • Synopsis: Easy Company went into Bastogne, despite shortages of food, ammunition, winter clothing and the medic, Eugene Roe, does not have the necessary medical supplies to properly treat the men. “Bastogne” is primarily shown from the point of view of Eugene Roe, Easy Company’s medic.
  • The Breaking Point (Episode 7)
    • Synopsis: Easy Company is entrenched along the outskirts of the German held town of Foy. Before Easy Company and others make their assault on the town, the company must survive the constant shelling.



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