Band of Brothers (2001)
Main Menu Audio
Featurette-We Stand Alone Together: The Men Of Easy Company
Featurette-Ron Livingston's Video Diaries (12)
Featurette-Who's Who: The Men Of Easy Company (13)
Featurette-Premiere At Normandy
Featurette-A Message From Jeep
|Year Of Production||2001|
|Running Time||600:46 (Case: 700)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (6)
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Various|
Warner Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The 10-part award-winning epic mini-series Band Of Brothers is, in this reviewer's opinion, the best drama series to appear on television in the last few years. Band Of Brothers is to WW2 drama, what The World At War was to WW2 documentary - it has set a new benchmark to measure all others by. Band Of Brothers joins a select few other television classics, such as I Claudius, as being one of the defining moments in television drama history.
"We few, we happy few, we band of brothers, for he who sheds his blood with me today shall be my brother". These bold words are delivered by King Henry V on the eve of a battle in Shakespeare's magnificent play Henry V. The sentiments expressed in this passage capture the theme of Band Of Brothers: the intimate bonds of camaraderie and brotherhood that develop between men in combat - men who place their lives in each other's hands.
Band Of Brothers is based on the best-selling book by Stephen E. Ambrose. Most episodes begin with short interviews with real Easy Company veterans, and their comments usually set the theme for each episode. The series exhibits outstanding production values and attention to detail. I believe it to be the most expensive television series ever made, and it shows. The quality of the writing, direction, acting, special effects, and cinematography is sublime. It is hard not to compare Band Of Brothers to Saving Private Ryan, especially if you consider that Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks are the executive producers of Band Of Brothers. Tom Hanks also co-wrote and directed an episode. The battle scenes in Band Of Brothers certainly have the same compelling, frenetic and intense confusion, graphic violence and hyper-reality as Saving Private Ryan.
In 1942, a voluntary parachute infantry regiment was formed to drop elite US soldiers behind enemy lines. These men parachuted into Normandy on D Day. They fought on the frontline in Holland, Belgium, Germany, and France. They fought in the Battle Of The Bulge, and they also captured Hitler's home. Through all of this they sustained one of the highest casualty rates of the war. This is their true story - the story of Easy Company, the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. This series wonderfully documents their incredible experiences, sacrifices, and hardships from their punishing boot-camp, basic training, right up until VE day when Germany surrenders.
A brief summary of the DVDs contents follows:
Episode 1: Currahee (70:19) It's 1942, and in Georgia, USA, the young men of Easy Company train to become paratroopers under the incompetent bully Capt. Sobel (David Schwimmer).
Episode 2: Day Of Days (49:59) Easy Company parachutes behind enemy lines on D Day, and are called upon to capture a German battery of four artillery guns.
Episode 3: Carentan (62:46) The town of Carentan must be taken from the Germans, and some soldiers must learn to deal with the paralysing fear that can grip soldiers in battle.
Episode 4: Replacements (57:22) Young and naive men find it difficult to replace lost friends, as Easy Company are dropped deep inside Holland as part of the failed Operation Market Garden.
Episode 5: Crossroads (53:30) Lt. Winters (Damien Lewis) demonstrates his extraordinary leadership and tactical skills, and Easy Company rescue 140 stranded British 'Red Devils' from enemy held territory.
Episode 6: Bastogne (64:32) Easy Company find themselves in freezing Bastogne without food, winter clothes, ammunition, and other supplies. Without artillery or air-support, they are surrounded by Germans, and mercilessly pounded by German artillery. Easy Company are ordered to hold their ground.
Episode 7: The Breaking Point (69:57) Fighting outside the town of Foy in Belgium, Easy Company experience devastating losses. This episode is almost too painful to watch, as the now familiar men of Easy Company suffer graphic and obscene injuries.
Episode 8: The Last Patrol (56:40) In Haguenau, a small group of Easy Company soldiers are selected to kidnap a few Germans from a German observation post. A young, fresh-faced and eager Westpoint graduate (Colin Hanks) joins the now combat-weary soldiers.
Episode 9: Why We Fight (55:54) In a forest outside Lansberg Germany, Easy Company make a truly shocking discovery. A heart-wrenching and haunting episode, with a poetic structure that opens with a seamless tracking shot through the bombed-out buildings of the local town - it begins and ends with the music of Beethoven. The confronting images of gross human cruelty will not be easily forgotten.
Episode 10: Points (59:47) Easy Company arrive in Berchtesgaden with orders to take the Eagle's Nest - both Hitler's home, and the Nazi symbolic command centre. Although Hitler has already committed suicide in a bunker in Berlin, he has left orders that all Germans must fight to the death.
Disc 6 (Special Features)
The advent and growing popularity of DVD and Digital Television have both led to a phenomenal improvement in the presentation of quality television programs. We can now enjoy quality television programs, such as this one, with a beautiful widescreen image, and perfect surround sound.
The transfer is beautifully presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. It is an absolute pleasure to watch on a 16:9 television.
The image is sometimes a little grainy, but this seems to be an artistic choice. While the image is a little soft at times, the sharpness is generally excellent, such as at 3:15 (Episode 3) where one can see the dust on one of the veteran's spectacles. The black level is perfect. The shadow detail is variable, for example it is great at times, such as in the shadowy room at 12:00 (Episode 9), but due to the high contrast and harsh lighting used for artistic effect, shadow detail is sometimes lacking.
Similar to Saving Private Ryan, the colour is often muted for effect, but it still exhibits accurate flesh-tones.
There are no MPEG nor film-to-video artefacts.
Film artefacts appear infrequently throughout but they are mostly small white flecks. There was slight edge enhancement on occasion, but I never found it distracting.
Nineteen sets of subtitles are present, and the English subtitles are accurate.
These are RSDL discs, and as I never spotted a layer change, I assume that the changes are all between the two episodes on each disc.
This is the most outstanding audio track that I have ever heard on any television production. There are English and French Dolby Digital 5.1 audio options.
The dialogue quality and audio sync are excellent.
The original music is credited to Michael Kamen, and it is a moving orchestral score.
The surround presence and activity is impressive and immersive. The rears are employed throughout to support the score, such as the lush, sweeping passage of music at 16:42 (Episode 10); and to support the great variety of sound effects, such as at 63:32 (Episode 1), when the image cuts between the plane interior and exterior.
The use of the LFE channel is equally as impressive. Throughout the series, the subwoofer gets plenty of work from unexpected explosions, the sound of distant artillery shells, and the terrifying rumble of approaching enemy tanks.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are plenty of interesting extras.
A simple menu, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital stereo audio.
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital stereo-surround, this extra is largely composed of interviews with Easy Company veterans who provide a first-hand account of the events depicted in the series. There is some archival war footage as well.
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital stereo, this extra documents the making of this series.
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital stereo, Ron Livingston, who played the role of Lewis Nixon in the series, presents 12 short videos he made behind the scenes.
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital stereo, this extra allows viewers to select some of the individuals featured in the series.
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital stereo, 40 veterans are taken to Normandy to commemorate D Day, and attend the premiere of this series.
A Message From Jeep
A short advert for the series, and its major sponsor, Jeep. I did not find this inappropriate, as Jeep played a major role in assisting in the success of the US Army in World War 2.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Band Of Brothers was released on DVD in Region 1 in November last year.
The Region 4 DVDs miss out on:
The Region 1 DVDs miss out on:
I would have to favour the R1 for the DTS audio option.
Band Of Brothers is an intense, riveting, and emotional experience that I thoroughly recommend to all. If you can afford to buy these discs then you should! I have just added these DVDs to the "Top Ten" list in my Bio.
The video quality is excellent.
The audio quality is excellent.
The extras are genuine and plentiful.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-535, using S-Video output|
|Display||Grundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DE-545|
|Speakers||Sony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer|