How ‘Band of Brothers’ changed television forever
Just three years after Steven Spielberg helped recreate one of the most vivid memories of the horrors of WWII in the 1998s Save Private Ryan, the influential director would once again turn back time for one of the most important television series ever to be made. Linked to the project only through production, Speilberg gave HBO films a sense of cinematic gravity. Band of brothers, a project well known for its budget and unprecedented scope.
Costing over $ 100 million to create, Band of brothers was an epic WWII story spanning ten episodes, each detailing the progress of a singular parachute company making its way across Europe. Overshadowing the production sizes of other early 2000s television series with an unprecedented meticulous emphasis on actors, visual effects, costumes and props, Spielberg and HBO helped create one of the finest dramas on World War II never realized.
Based on the non-fiction book of the same name by prolific American historian Stephen E. Ambrose, the story is compiled from in-depth interviews with veterans of the “Easy Company”, the 506th Airborne Regiment. This gave the series a backbone of legitimacy that followed suit in the acting department, with the majority of the lead actors contacting the people they represented before starting filming. Tom Hanks, the original creator of the series, discussed the challenges of filming with such historic precision in an interview with The New York Times, declaring: “We have brought history to our screens”.
Continuing, he notes: “We had to condense a large number of characters, group the experiences of others into 10 or 15 people, have things said and done that others said or did … But I still think it is. three or four times more precise. than most movies like this ”.
Such precision was endorsed by WWII veterans who saw previews of the series and checked the episodes for validity prior to their release on HBO. Giving such great consideration to a television series was, before the 21st century, unheard of, with the film industry being the center of entertainment and big budgets. Together with The Sopranos, who also had a generous budget, Band of brothers would forever change the fabric of the entertainment industry, blurring the lines between the meaning of “small screen” and “big screen”.
Where television was once seen as an inferior form of entertainment, reserved for sitcoms and frivolous daytime shows, Spielberg’s production had shown that it can have the same spectacular qualities as film, if the subject matter is addressed properly. A little after Band of brothers came to critically acclaimed HBO Thread, followed by Lost ABC’s that would help spark a roaring fire of popularity on television.
Fueling a domino effect that would later lead to high-profile TV series breaking Bad, Game Of Thrones and Strange things, Band of brothers inspired the concept of big budget small screen entertainment. Although this may be a concept championed by the six seasons of Lost, without the existence of the HBO WWII series, the fabric of the entertainment industry might not have been the same as it is today.