Band of Brothers (miniseries)

Band of Brothers
Genre War drama
Based on Band of Brothers
by Stephen E. Ambrose
Written by
Directed by
Starring see Cast below
Theme music composer Michael Kamen
Country of origin
Original language(s)
  • English
No. of episodes 10 (List of episodes)
  • Billy Fox
  • Oral Norrie Ottey
  • Frances Parker
  • John Richards
Running time 705 minutes
Production company(s) Playtone
DreamWorks Television
Distributor HBO Home Entertainment (home video)
Budget $125 million
Original network HBO
Original release September 9 (2001-09-09) – November 4, 2001 (2001-11-04)
Followed by The Pacific
External links

Band of Brothers is a 2001 American war drama miniseries based on historian Stephen E. Ambrose's 1993 non-fiction book of the same name. The executive producers were Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, who had collaborated on the 1998 World War II film Saving Private Ryan.[3] The episodes first aired in 2001 on HBO. The series won Emmy and Golden Globe awards in 2001 for best miniseries.

The series dramatizes the history of "Easy" Company (part of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division) from jump training in the United States through its participation in major actions in Europe, and up until Japan's capitulation and war's end. The events portrayed are based on Ambrose's research and recorded interviews with Easy Company veterans. The series took literary license, adapting the recorded history for the purposes of dramatic effect and series structure.[4][5][6] All of the characters portrayed are based on members of Easy Company. Some of the men were recorded in contemporary interviews, which viewers see as preludes to each episode. The men's identities are not revealed until the finale.

The title for the book and the series comes from the St Crispin's Day Speech in William Shakespeare's play Henry V, delivered by Henry V of England before the Battle of Agincourt. Ambrose quotes a passage from the speech on his book's first page; this passage is spoken by Carwood Lipton in the series' finale.


Band of Brothers is a dramatized account of "Easy Company" (part of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment), assigned to the United States Army's 101st Airborne Division during World War II. Over the course of ten episodes, the series details the company's exploits during the war. Starting with jump training at Camp Toccoa, Georgia, Band of Brothers follows the unit through the American airborne landings in Normandy, Operation Market Garden, the Siege of Bastogne, and on to the war's end. It includes the taking of the Eagle's Nest at Obersalzberg in Berchtesgaden and refers to the surrender of Japan. Major Richard Winters (1918–2011) is the central character featured, shown working to accomplish the missions and keep his men together and safe. While the series features a large ensemble cast, each episode generally focuses on a single character, following his actions during certain events (for example, the Siege of Bastogne or Operation Market Garden).[3]

As the series is based on historic events, the fates of the characters conform to the persons they are drawn from. Numerous characters die or sustain serious wounds, some of which lead to survivors' being sent home; in other cases, soldiers recover under treatment in hospital and can rejoin their comrades on the front lines. Their experiences and the moral, mental, and physical hurdles they must overcome are central to the story.


The series was developed chiefly by Tom Hanks and Erik Jendresen, who spent months detailing the plot outline and individual episodes.[7] Steven Spielberg served as "the final eye" and used Saving Private Ryan, the film which he and Hanks had collaborated on, to inform the series.[8] Accounts of Easy Company veterans such as Donald Malarkey were incorporated into production to add historic detail.[8]

Budget and promotion

Promotional poster for Band of Brothers

Band of Brothers was the most expensive television miniseries made by HBO or any other television network when it was created.[9][10] This record was superseded by the series' 2010 sister show, The Pacific.[11][12][13] The budget for Band of Brothers was approximately $125 million, which comes to an average of $12.5 million per episode.[8] An additional $15 million was allocated towards the promotional campaign, which included hosting screenings for World War II veterans.[9]

One of those screenings was held at Utah Beach, Normandy, where US troops landed on June 6, 1944. On June 7, 2001, 47 Easy Company veterans were flown to Paris and then travelled by chartered train to the site, where the series premiered.[14][15] Also sponsoring the miniseries was Chrysler, as its Jeeps were used to great extent in the series.[16] Chrysler spent $5 to $15 million on its advertising campaign, based on and using footage from Band of Brothers.[16] Each of the spots was reviewed and approved by co-executive producers Hanks and Spielberg.[16]

The BBC paid £7 million ($10.1 million) as co-production partner, the most it had ever paid for a bought-in program, and screened it on BBC Two. Originally, it was to have aired on BBC One, but was moved to allow an "uninterrupted 10-week run" with a denial that the move was because the series was not mainstream enough.[17][18] Negotiations were monitored by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who personally spoke to co-executive producer Spielberg.[19]


The series was shot over 8 to 10 months at Hatfield Aerodrome in Hertfordshire, England. Various sets, including replicas of European towns, were built there.[15] This location had also been used to shoot the film Saving Private Ryan.[8][10] Replicas were constructed on the large open field to represent twelve different towns, including Bastogne, Belgium; Eindhoven, Netherlands; and Carentan, France.[20] North Weald Airfield in Essex was also used for location shots depicting the take-off sequences before the D-Day Normandy landings.

The village of Hambleden, in Buckinghamshire, England, was used as a location extensively in the early episodes to depict the site of the company's training in England, as well as in later scenes. The scenes set in Germany and Austria were shot in Switzerland, in and near the village of Brienz in the Bernese Oberland, and at the nearby Hotel Giessbach.

Historical accuracy

To preserve historical accuracy, the various writers conducted additional research. One source was the memoir of Easy Company soldier David Kenyon Webster. Written after the war from the diary he kept, his memoir Parachute Infantry: An American Paratrooper's Memoir of D-Day and the Fall of the Third Reich was published by LSU Press in 1994, following renewed interest in World War II and almost 40 years after Webster's death in a boating accident. (Ambrose had quoted liberally from Webster's then-unpublished diary entries, with permission of his estate, in his 1992 book.)

The production team consulted with Dale Dye, a retired Marine Captain and consultant on Saving Private Ryan, as well as most of the surviving Easy Company veterans at the time, such as Richard Winters, Bill Guarnere, Frank Perconte, Ed Heffron, and Amos Taylor.[8][21] Dye (who plays the role of Colonel Robert Sink) instructed the actors portraying soldiers in a 10-day boot camp.[21]

The production worked for accuracy in details of weapons and costumes. Simon Atherton, the weapons master, corresponded with veterans to match weapons to scenes, and assistant costume designer Joe Hobbs extensively used photos and veteran accounts.[8]

Most actors had contact before filming with the individuals they were to portray, often by telephone. Several of the veterans came to the production site.[8] Hanks acknowledged alterations were needed to create the series: "We've made history fit onto our screens. We had to condense down a vast number of characters, fold other people's experiences into 10 or 15 people, have people saying and doing things others said or did. We had people take off their helmets to identify them, when they would never have done so in combat. But I still think it is three or four times more accurate than most films like this."[15] As a final accuracy check, the veterans saw previews of the series and approved the episodes before they were aired.[22]

Cast and characters

Since Band of Brothers focuses entirely on the exploits of "E" (Easy) Company during World War II, the series features a large ensemble cast.

Appearing in all ten episodes:

From left: Damian Lewis as Major Richard Winters and Ron Livingston as Captain Lewis Nixon.

Appearing in nine episodes:

Appearing in eight episodes:

Appearing in seven episodes or fewer:


Critical reception

Band of Brothers received critical acclaim, mixed with doubts about the handling of individual characters.

CNN's Paul Clinton said that the miniseries "is a remarkable testament to that generation of citizen soldiers, who responded when called upon to save the world for democracy and then quietly returned to build the nation that we now all enjoy, and all too often take for granted."[24]

Caryn James of The New York Times called it "an extraordinary 10-part series that masters its greatest challenge: it balances the ideal of heroism with the violence and terror of battle, reflecting what is both civilized and savage about war." James also remarked on the generation gap between most viewers and characters, suggesting this was a significant hurdle.[25]

Robert Bianco of USA Today wrote that the series was "significantly flawed and yet absolutely extraordinary—just like the men it portrays," rating the series four out of four stars. He noted however that it was hard to identify with individual characters during crowded battle scenes.[26]

Tom Shales of The Washington Post wrote that though the series is "at times visually astonishing," it suffers from "disorganization, muddled thinking and a sense of redundancy." Shales observed that the characters are hard to identify: "Few of the characters stand out strikingly against the backdrop of the war. In fact, this show is all backdrop and no frontdrop. When you watch two hours and still aren't quite sure who the main characters are, something is wrong."[27]

Philip French of The Guardian commented that he had "seen nothing in the cinema this past year that impressed me as much as BBC2's 10-part Band of Brothers, produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, and Ken Loach's The Navigators on Channel 4", and that it was "one of the best films ever made about men in war and superior in most ways to Saving Private Ryan."[28] Matt Seaton, also in The Guardian, wrote that the film's production was "on such a scale that in an ad hoc, inadvertent way it gives one a powerful sense of what really was accomplished during the D-Day invasion - the extraordinary logistical effort of moving men and matériel in vast quantities."[29]

Band of Brothers has become a kind of benchmark for World War II series. The German series Generation War, for example, was characterized by critics as Band of Brüder ("Brüder" being the German word for "Brothers").[30]

As of May 2016, Band of Brothers is currently the highest-ranking television series on the Internet Movie Database, with an average rating of 9.5/10.[31]


The premiere of Band of Brothers on September 9, 2001, drew 10 million viewers.[32] Two days later, the September 11 attacks occurred, and HBO immediately ceased its marketing campaign.[32] The second episode drew 7.2 million viewers.[32] The last episode of the miniseries received 5.1 million viewers, the smallest audience.[33]


The series was nominated for twenty Primetime Emmy Awards, and won seven, including Outstanding Miniseries and Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special.[34] It also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television,[35] American Film Institute Award for TV Movie or Miniseries of the Year,[36] Producers Guild of America Award for Outstanding Producer of Long-Form Television,[37] and the TCA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries, and Specials,.[38] The show was also selected for a Peabody Award for '...relying on both history and memory to create a new tribute to those who fought to preserve liberty.'[39]

Primetime Emmy Awards

Category Nominee(s) Episode Result
Outstanding Miniseries Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman, Tony To, Stephen E. Ambrose, Eric Bork, Eric Jendresen, Mary Richards Won
Outstanding Achievement in Interactive Television Programming Won
Outstanding Art Direction for a Miniseries or Movie Anthony Pratt, Dom Dossett, Alan Tomkins, Kevin Philpps, Desmond Crowe, Malcolm Stone “The Breaking Point” Nominated
Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special Meg Liberman, Camille H. Patton, Angela Terry, Gary Davy, Suzanne M. Smith Won
Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or Movie Remi Adefarasin “The Last Patrol” Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special David Frankel, Tom Hanks, David Nutter, David Leland, Richard Loncraine, Phil Alden Robinson, Mikael Salomon, Tony To Won
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Miniseries or Movie Helen Smith & Paula Price “Crossroads” Nominated
Outstanding Main Title Design Michael Riley, Michelle Dougherty, Jeff Miller, Jason Web Nominated
Outstanding Make-up for a Miniseries or Movie (Non-Prosthetic) Liz Tagg & Nikita Rae “Why We Fight” Nominated
Outstanding Prosthetic Make-up for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special Daniel Parker, Matthew Smith, Duncan Jarman “Day of Days” Nominated
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries or Movie Frances Parker “Day of Days” Won
Billy Fox “Replacements” Nominated
Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special Campbell Askew, Paul Conway, James Boyle, Ross Adams, Andy Kennedy,Howard Halsall, Robert Gavin, Grahame Peters, Michael Higham, Dashiell Rae, Andie Derrick, Peter Burgis “Day of Days” Won
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or Movie Colin Charles, Mike Dowson, Mark Taylor “Carentan” Won
David Stephenson, Mike Dowson, Mark Taylor “Day of Days” Nominated
Colin Charles, Keven Patrick Burns, Todd Orr “The Breaking Point” Nominated
Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special Angus Bickerton, John Lockwood, Ken Dailey, Joe Pavlo, Mark Nettleton, Michael Mulholland, Joss Williams, Nigel Stone “Replacements” Nominated
Angus Bickerton, Mat Beck, Cindy Jones, Louis Mackall, Nigel Stone, Karl Mooney, Laurent Hugueniot, Chas Cash “Day of Days” Nominated
Outstanding Stunt Coordination Greg Powell “Carentan” Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special Erik Bork, E. Max Frye, Tom Hanks, Erik Jendresen, Bruce C. McKenna, John Orloff, Graham Yost Nominated

Golden Globe Awards

Category Nominee Outcome
Best Miniseries or Television Film Won
Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Film Damian Lewis Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries, or Television Film Ron Livingston Nominated

Home video releases

All ten parts of the miniseries were released in a DVD box set on November 5, 2002. The set includes five discs containing all the episodes, and a bonus disc with the behind-the-scenes documentary We Stand Alone Together: The Men of Easy Company and the video diary of actor Ron Livingston, who played Lewis Nixon. A collector's edition of the box set was also released, containing the same discs but held in a tin case. Band of Brothers is one of the best-selling TV DVD sets of all time,[40] having sold about $250 million worth.[41]

The series was released as an exclusive HD DVD TV series in Japan in 2007. With the demise of the format, they are currently out of production. A Blu-ray Disc version of Band of Brothers was released on November 11, 2008 and has become a Blu-ray Disc top seller.[42]

See also


  1. Rupert Smith. "Steven Spielberg's controversial Band Of Brothers | Film". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
  2. "Early Modernity and Video Games - Google Books". 2014-06-26. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
  3. 1 2 "Drama: Band of Brothers". Retrieved: 2008-06-09.
  4. Biggest Brother: The Life of Dick Winters
  5. Parachute Infantry, an autobiography by David Kenyon Webster
  6. "Trigger Time by 101st historian Mark Bando has a detailed discussion of the miniseries' historical accuracy". Retrieved 2012-12-24.
  7. Mifflin, Lawrie. "TV Notes ; World War II, The Mini-Series". The New York Times.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Hohenadel, Kristin (2000-12-17). "Television/Radio ; Learning How the Private Ryans Felt and Fought". The New York Times.
  9. 1 2 Carter, Bill (2001-09-03). "On Television ; HBO Bets Pentagon-Style Budget on a World War II Saga". The New York Times.
  10. 1 2 Levin, Gary (2001-01-09). "'Brothers' invades fall lineup HBO's WWII miniseries battles network premieres". USA Today.
  11. "Pop Eater/AOL News: The Pacific TV miniseries $200+ million budget". 2010-08-27. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
  12. "Manila Bulletin: The Pacific: most expensive miniseries ever made (last paragraph)". 2010-03-07. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
  13. Ross Bonander (2010-03-14). "The Pacific: 5 Things You Didn't Know". Askmen. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
  14. Levin, Gary (2001-04-18). "HBO Cable network sets itself apart with daring fare". USA Today.
  15. 1 2 3 Riding, Alan (2001-06-07). "Arts Abroad ; A Normandy Landing, This One for a Film". The New York Times.
  16. 1 2 3 Elliott, Stuart (2001-09-10). "The Media Business: Advertising ; Jeep's manufacturer seeks to capitalize on the vehicle's featured role in 'Band of Brothers.'". The New York Times.
  17. BBC News: Spielberg epic loses prime slot, August 15, 2001
  18. The true drama of war New Statesman, October 8, 2001
  19. Hellen, Nicholas (2001-04-08). "BBC pays Pounds 15m for new Spielberg war epic". The Sunday Times.
  20. Garner, Clare (1999-12-01). "Hatfield prepares for invasion of Spielberg brigade". The Independent.
  21. 1 2 Huff, Richard (2001-09-09). "Actors & Vets Bond In 'Band Of Brothers'". Daily News (New York).
  22. MacDonald, Sandy (2002-09-15). "Miniseries put actors through boot camp". The Daily News (Halifax).
  23. Kronke, David (2001-09-02). "Battle ready; World War II Miniseries by Hanks, Spielberg Coming To HBO". Los Angeles Daily News.
  24. CNN, Enlist TV for 'Band of Brothers' September 7, 2001 Posted: 11:55 AM EDT (1555 GMT)
  25. James, Caryn (2001-09-07). "TV Weekend; An Intricate Tapestry Of a Heroic Age". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-24.
  26. Bianco, Robert (2001-09-07). "'Band' masterfully depicts horror, complexity of war". USA Today.
  27. Shales, Tom (2001-08-07). "'Band of Brothers': Ragged WWII Saga Off to a Slow March". The Washington Post.
  28. French, Philip (23 December 2001). "Diamonds in the dross: Films of the year". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
  29. Seaton, Matt (24 September 2001). "Too close for comfort". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
  30. "Band of Brüder: a German view of wartime". The Irish Times. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
  31. Band of Brothers at the Internet Movie Database
  32. 1 2 3 Lyman, Rick (2001-10-16). "Fewer Soldiers March Onscreen; After Attacks, Filmmakers Weigh Wisdom of Military Stories". The New York Times.
  33. HBO's 'Band of Brothers' Draws Series' Smallest Audience for Finale
  34. "Band of Brothers". Television Academy. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  35. "Band of Brothers". Golden Globes Awards. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  36. "AFI Awards 2001". American Film Institute. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  37. "Producers Guild of America Awards winners". United Press International. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  38. "2002 TCA Awards winners". Television Critics Association. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  39. 61st Annual Peabody Awards, May 2002.
  40. Laurence Lerman (8 December 2008). "2008 VIDEO HALL OF FAME PROFILE: Henry McGee". Archived from the original on 2009-05-28. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
  41. Joe Flint (March 16, 2010). "Over 3 million viewers sign up for HBO's 'The Pacific'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
  42. DVD Shop: Band of Brothers. — Warner Bros.

Further reading

A number of books have been published which give further insight into Easy Company.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Band of Brothers (TV miniseries).
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