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Friday, 14 September, 2001, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
Band of Brothers impresses
Band of Brothers
David Schwimmer, right, is unconvincing
By Aubrey Hill

People wondered why the first two episodes of Tom Hanks' and Steven Spielberg's 10-part mini-series, Band of Brothers, were shown back to back.

The reason was simple. While Band of Brothers finally reached a moment of suspense at the end of episode two, the beginning of the series was slow and uneventful.

We meet the Band of Brothers on their first day of training, witnessing the gruelling physical preparation of soldiers for war.

Watching troops running three miles up and three miles down a hill seems to fill most of the hour-long episode.

In contrast Saving Private Ryan, its movie predecessor, begins with the incredible 20-minute storming of the Normandy beaches, complete with all the blood and gore you would expect from a blockbuster film.


No other explanation of the plot was needed, no dragged out character introductions, no slow-moving boot camp training drills, just war, and plenty of it.

Part of the problem with the first episode may have been the ridiculous fact that Friends favourite David Schwimmer plays the hard and cruel Captain Herbert Sobel.

Band of Brothers
We feel every action and emotion that affects the soldiers
The only thing believable about Schwimmer's acting is when he cowers in the face of true battle. His puppy dog eyes make him appear even more pitiful.

On the other hand, Damian Lewis is outstanding as Lieutenant Richard Winters, a calm, collected and impressive match to Hanks' character in Saving Private Ryan.

Once the action begins in the second episode, we watch in disbelief as hundreds of paratroopers, in the first airborne infantry in US history, leap out of planes under attack from the ground.

The camera shot following Lieutenant Winters from the plane to the ground is a masterpiece, rivaling the scene of the Japanese bomb falling onto Pearl Harbor.

Special effects

From the first scene in episode two we are taken into the heat of battle, and see, hear and feel every action and emotion that affects the soldiers.

The most impressive example is when a soldier climbs into a tree to gain access to a target and comes under fire from the ground.

We see the bullets ripping through the leaves in the tree narrowly missing the soldier.

The special effects are amazing, from the computer-generated drop scenes to the accuracy of underground mortars, and even the charred remains of a truck driver sitting upright in the background.

These small details, along with an incredible budget, allow Band of Brothers to attract movie-watching war veterans and civilians alike.

When viewers watch a series aware of what happens at the end, a certain level of realism is crucial.

Hanks and Spielberg do an excellent job of bringing the horror of war to life, after the painfully slow build-up of the first episode.

See also:

10 Sep 01 | Reviews
Band of Brothers: Your views
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