Emmy Award winning HBO series Band of Brothers (Best Miniseries, Best Directing, and three others is now available on Blu-ray. Any fan of the series who has been hesitating to get a copy of Band of Brothers will certainly want to get the Blu-ray version or put in on his Christmas gift list. If, like me, you give really broad hints, you can even get it before Christmas.
Aside from Ken Burns’ The War, which is a different kettle of fish, nothing else has given such a believable and humanistic depiction of the U.S. forces in WW II. This HBO miniseries is brilliant in all aspects and the Blu-ray box set brings out the most out of the visuals and sounds. This is especially true for episode six of Band of Brothers, Bastogne. The crisp whites of the winter scenes and the blacks of the night scenes really stand out in high definition.
For those very few unfamiliar with Band of Brothers, the series follows the men of the Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment from training camp to the last days of WW II. There are a few key characters that keep the storyline going but others die or get sent back and new characters show up. This really is an ensemble cast performance and there is no weak link, not even David Schwimmer (Friends).
Band of Brothers is great for many, many reasons. One of the biggest reasons is how subtle the show can be sometimes. For example, the scene where one of the men is being driven back to the village of Bastogne to get medical help: right outside the hospital there is a mountain of bodies stacked one on top of the other. Nothing is said but the point is clear.
It also finds different ways of telling the story. Episode 5, Crossroads is all flashback told while the captain is typing his report. Episode 6, Bastogne, is told through the eyes of a medic and a French nurse. Episode 7, Breaking Point, takes place in the Ardennes and is told through a soldier’s voice-over and tackles the issue of missing commanders. Episode 8, The Last Patrol is told through Webster, one of the original men of Easy Company who is back on the front line after what many seem to think was too long a stay in the hospital.
Band of Brothers Blu-ray comes with two options. You can watch the series with a picture-in-picture commentary by the real men of Easy Company. This is something you want to do only after you have seen the series once as you do not want to find out who will make it to the end.
Less interesting is the Timeline option where you can navigate inside an episode and click on different icons for various kinds of information. I never quite got the hang of this and the minuscule and gold on black lettering does not make for an easy read.
The best special feature in this Blu-ray box set is the extra disc with We Stand Alone Together, The Men of Easy Company, an 80 minute documentary on the real men of Easy Company with lots of interviews.