Its Veterans Day, which means that some of you have the day off work and are probably lounging around looking for something interesting to watch. Before you do that, let me encourage you to contact anyone you know who’s served in the armed forces and thank them. Still looking for something patriotic to watch today? I have just the thing.
If you scour the internet for lists on this topic, you’ll likely find dozens of articles suggesting countless films to watch – Saving Private Ryan, Patton, Forrest Gump, Platoon, and the lists go on – but I happen to think the best thing to watch on Veterans Day isn’t a film at all. It’s a 2001 HBO miniseries called Band of Brothers.
Band of Brothers is the most powerful depiction of war I’ve ever seen, in any medium. Because it’s eleven hours long (which means you should probably start now if you want to finish it all by the end of the day), the audience gets to spend far more time with the characters than we would in a traditional film, and this extra time allows us to relate to them, feel their pain, and experience their journey far more than a movie could get us to do in a two hour runtime.
I called them “characters” a second ago, but the amazing thing about this story is that these actors are recreating the actions of the real guys who actually lived through insane events like the ones shown here. It’s true that some of the story was fictionalized for dramatic purposes, but the little details are almost inconsequential when you step back and look at the larger picture of how these men bonded together, suffered together, persevered, and ultimately survived some of the worst battles of World War II.
The show succeeds where many war-related dramas fail in bringing actual humanity to the soldiers instead of reducing them to stereotypes (the sniper, the field doctor, the hard-ass drill sergeant, etc), and with the the incredible cinematography, set designs, and production values, at times it almost feels like a stylized documentary. Plus, it has an absolutely stellar cast, led by Damian Lewis (“Homeland”), Ron Livingston (Office Space), Donnie Wahlberg (The Sixth Sense), and more, with appearances by Michael Fassbender, Tom Hardy, James McAvoy, Colin Hanks, David Schwimmer, Jimmy Fallon, and Simon Pegg.
I realize a ten episode, eleven hour commitment is a lot to ask of anyone these days, but I implore you to watch at least a few episodes of this series today (whether it be for the first time, or if you’re revisiting it). I guarantee you’ll come away with a greater sense of appreciation for our armed forces.
In case the length of the miniseries is too much for you, take a look at this inspiring documentary about Eric Hollenbeck, a Vietnam veteran who runs an awesome mill in the Redwood Forest. It was sent to us by a friend of the site who edited the piece and did the sound design for it. Watch it below:
Happy Veterans Day to everyone, and allow me to say a special thank you to all of the former and current soldiers out there. Your service and sacrifice is appreciated more than you know.
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