Band of Brother Comparison Book/Miniseries

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IN250 - WORLD WAR II - Dr. BRIAN MULLGARDT

Critique of “Band of Brothers”

Band of Brothers is a book written by Stephen E. Ambrose in 1992. This book follows the Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, through World War II. Ambrose wrote this book with interviews from veterans and the research he completed on his own. During three years (July 1942 - July1945) from their training in England to the end of World War II, Ambrose tells us the unbelievable story of the Band of Brothers. Besides of this book, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks produced in 2001 for HBO a ten part mini series based on Ambrose’s book. This mini series is the most expensive of his kind ($125 million of budget). Band of Brothers was met with extremely positive reviews from critiques and viewers (average of 8 million viewers per episode). How the miniseries is different from the book that inspired it? In this critique of Band of Brothers, we are going to compare the book and the mini series through different categories such as characters, places, miscellaneous, hollywoodization, etc.

First of all in this part, we will discuss the fact that the miniseries is faithful to the book. Indeed, the HBO TV show covers most of the event of the book from the D-Day, June 6, 1944 to Hitler's Eagle Nest, May 4 1945. The only part missing in the mini series is the Easy Company’s training in England from 1942 to couple days before D-Day, we will discuss about this part later. In the first episode, I find out that the moviemaker struggled in introducing the Easy Company to the viewers. Although, Ambrose had three chapters to do it, in the miniseries we are kind of confuse, there are a lot of names and it is hard to find the relationship between them and develop characters. Captain Sobel introduced the Easy Company, who has the group undergo hard drills and exercises. Sobel comes into conflict with his men, including Richard Winters, his executive officer. The company is shipped to England to prepare for D-Day. Sobel is eventually reassigned to jump school for medics among others. Also in this episode Sobel starts to be bully by his men, which is not the truth according to the book, but we will discuss about that later. The second episode seems to be the most faithful one. I think it was easier for the producer to make it accurate because this is a part of WWII where you can find a lot of data. Spielberg already knew how to make it spectacular (e.g. Saving Private Ryan). In the book (chapter 5), Ambrose gives us a lot of description of the guns and location where the Easy Company landed. It is a real success because all the visuals are breathtaking and you can feel the battle. The enormous budget is quite justified with this episode. Then the TV show follows the book, the Easy Company go to Holland for Operation Market Garden (episode 4), where they liberate Eindhoven, and go to Bastogne (episode 6), while they are running low on ammunition and other supplies. In the eighth episode, the moviemaker gives a tribute to David Webster, we will discuss about this homage in the character part. A concentration camp near Landsberg is discovered by a patrol. This sight leaves many soldiers both shocked and disgusted at what they're witnessing at the hands of the Nazis (episode 9). We will discuss of this turning point of WWII in the next part. The company captures Eagle's Nest in Berchtesgaden, and also discover Herman Goering's house. The battalion heads out to Austria where the end of the war in Europe is announced. While those with enough points go home, the remainder of Easy Company stays behind until the end of the Pacific War is declared (episode 10 and last one). Moreover to be even more faithful to the book, Spielberg at the end of his TV show gives us the post career of the Easy Company like last chapter of Ambrose’s book.

Even thought the miniseries is very accurate, Steven Spielberg felt free to add scenes in his TV...
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