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Thursday, 7 June, 2001, 09:51 GMT 10:51 UK
D-Day unveiling for war epic
Tom Hanks
Hanks joined in the D-Day remembrance service
Actor Tom Hanks has joined D-Day veterans on a Normandy beach to unveil the new $120m (83m) World War II epic Band of Brothers.

Hanks and Steven Spielberg, who worked together on Saving Private Ryan, have co-produced the 10-part television drama series.

The first instalment was shown to an audience of 1,000 on Utah Beach on the 57th anniversary of D-Day.


We have made history fit on the screen

Tom Hanks
Standing at the scene of some of the fiercest fighting, Hanks addressed the crowd about the aims of the project.

He said: "As filmmakers, we hope to entertain those in search of a good story, educate those who are unaware of their own history."

Although a big budget drama it only features one instantly recognisable actor, Friends' David Schwimmer, while Hanks has just a walk-on part.
Tom Hanks
Hanks spoke about the project in front of D-Day veterans

Daring capture

Band of Brothers follows the men of Easy Company through training and onto D-Day when they parachute into France behind Nazi German enemy lines.

It climaxes with their daring capture in 1945 of Hitler's fortified mountain retreat, the Eagle's Nest.

Organisers of the preview flew in 47 of the surviving 51 veterans of the company, some in wheelchairs, for the screening in a massive tent erected on the wind-swept beach.

Some of them helped Stephen Ambrose write the book on which the drama is based.

David Schwimmer
David Schwimmer is the only household name in the cast
American pay-TV channel HBO part-funded the project.

The directors have admitted some of the factual details have been changed for the series.

Hanks said: "We know we have often forgotten detail, modified history, altered geography...we have made history fit on the screen."

Pyrotechnics

Saving Private Ryan was also about the D-Day landings. Spielberg directed while Hanks was the star.

Band of Brothers was filmed in the UK last year over eight intensive months, using eight directors.

It features 500 speaking parts and 10,000 extras were employed.

HBO said that by the third episode, more pyrotechnics had been used than in the whole of Saving Private Ryan, while more than 130 tonnes (300,000lb) of paper were used to create snow for a single scene.

The series is scheduled to be shown in the US from 9 September ahead of its European TV release in the following weeks.

The BBC has scheduled the series for the autumn.

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