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Eyewitness report from the beaches on the World Premiere of BAND OF BROTHERS in France

Published at: June 11, 2001, 12:12 p.m. CST

Father Geek here with a report from the Normandy beach head on the public screening there of HBO's upcoming BAND OF BROTHERS... First, I'm a BABY BOOMER that was born while my Dad, HIS brothers and cousins were still fighting in WWII.

AS A YOUNG KID I WAS BROUGHT UP HEARING STORIES OF THE VARIOUS BATTLES FROM RELATIVES AND THE DADS OF ALL MY FRIENDS. ONE OF MY FATHER'S COUSINS LOST A HAND (left) AND BOTH LEGS ON OMAHA BEACH (one at the hip and the other at the knee), AND MY BEST FRIEND THROUGH JR. HIGH SCHOOL'S STEPFATHER (he had lost his real Dad at Guadalcanal) WAS A RANGER WHO CLIMBED THOSE HELLISH CLIFFS ON D-DAY. HE WOULD SIT SHIRTLESS IN THE BACKYARD ON THOSE HOT 1950'S SUMMER AFTERNOONS IN SAN ANTONIO TELLING US STORIES OF THE BIGGEST INVASION EVER, WHERE HE HAD EARNED 2 SILVER STARS, 3 BRONZE STARS AND 5 PURPLE HEARTS BETWEEN THE SHORELINE AND THE RHINE. HE HAD DOZENS OF SCARS ON HIS LEGS AND BACK, AND MANY BLUE/BLACK BRUISE-LIKE MARKS ON HIS BODY. IF WE HELD OUR FACES RIGHT, AND HE FELT LIKE IT HE WOULD LET ONE OF US TOUCH THE MISCOLORED FLESH, PUSHING GENTLY TO RAISE A DARK KNOT TO THE SURFACE. THEY WERE BITS OF METAL HE STILL CARRIED WITH HIM FROM THE BEACHES THAT DAY IN JUNE OF 1944. IRON FROM NAZI HAND GRENADES LOBBED DOWN THE FACE OF THE CLIFFS.

Anyway ol' Father Geek loves this kind of film (seen them all), and I'm glad this series appears to have been done right... I look forward to seeing it myself as soon as possible, if anyone out there has access to a screening copy of the D-Day footage send it to Father Geek here at Geek Headquarters behind-the-lines, and I'll review it myself and post it (the review) up for the homefront's morale, but for now here's Ike's firsthand report from the front...

I was on the beaches of France live with THE BAND OF BROTHERS, the world premiere was in Normandy on June 6th (anniversary of 1944's D-Day). I guess the show doesn't premiere until September 9th on HBO, but they wanted this public premiere to coincide with D-Day's B-Day...

Anyway, I am related to one of the Invasion vets, and was lucky enough to be there for the EVENT.... It was unf***ing believable!

You need a review of it!

First, they showed like a 5 minute montage of Pt. 1 (training), then the ENTIRE D-Day episode (50 full minutes-- the whole thing is just like the first 15 minutes of Saving Private Ryan!), and then a longer montage of the next 8 HOURS of the series. It looked just like "Ryan" in the filming/editing... low color, shaky-cam, grainy, great sound...

The montage was like the preview that's on HBO.com, but 15 minutes long...

I gotta say... NOTHING LIKE THIS HAS EVER BEEN ATTEMPTED FOR TV! The scope is unbelievable. There is no other word. "Ryan" takes place in one week, during one campaign. This covers all of Northern Europe! We saw D-Day, other battles in France, a day-time parachute drop into Holland, the snows of the battle of the bulge (with giant pine trees EXPLODING in the snow), concentration camps in Germany (people were crying just from the couple of shots in the montage), a shot of THOUSANDS of German soldiers surrendering, Hitler's lairs in Germany, and the Austrian mountains...

It's scale is UNBELIEVABLE.... The score (there was 15 minutes of wonderful music to go with the montage) was awesome!

Now I saw most of Earth to the Moon (so-so).... but this is a whole different ball of wax. This IS just as good as Steven's "Ryan"... or better!

The hour that covers D-Day was incredible (the only full epsidoe they showed). The night-jump into France was amazing-- hundreds of planes in the air...tracers.... planes BURSTING into flames... Then the battle later that day was like you were really there... 12 guys storm a German position and capture 4 cannon.

They're gonna have another preview in August I think in LA. You gotta send someone who has a better review-sense than I do to attend!

They said there's 50 main characters, 500 speaking parts, 2,000 extras, 140 million bucks... By the second (only the second!) episode, they had used more military effects than in all of "Saving Private Ryan".

The 1,000 or so audience gave it a standin ovation...lot's of crying. Now you might say it was a friendly audience...but not so fast. These were the guys and their families of the real men. They are a tough bunch, VERY critical pof how their story is told...and they loved it....

Anyway thought you should know...

IKE

Readers Talkback

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  • June 11, 2001, 12:36 p.m. CST

    Degrees?

    by Drive! Kowalski

    Was Holding the premiere of this on that beach any more tastefull than showing that giant crapfest Pearl Harbour on the deck of that carrier, above that watery grave? Such self-importance might be more believable/valid from Spielberg and Hanks than from Bay and Bruckheimer, but does it make it any more tastefull.

  • June 11, 2001, 1:12 p.m. CST

    Call me crazy...

    by coop

    but I am looking forward this more than the next season of the Sopranos. What I have seen looks amazing and between this, Fellowship of the Rings, AI, Episode II and Buffy, I am just giddy about the next 12 months.

  • June 11, 2001, 1:26 p.m. CST

    Great! Another HBO series!

    by Ghetto_Priest

    I needed something else to hold me over until OZ starts again. I have no idea how many "Six Feet Under" eps are coming, but my guess is between 8 and 13. That's not gonna last me until January!

  • June 11, 2001, 1:47 p.m. CST

    Pearl Harbor premiere v. Normandy premiere

    by Key Grip

    Drive! Kowalski raises an excellent question, but having gone to the Pearl Harbor premiere (with my Grandfather), I can say this much: the only way the Normandy premiere would have been any more crass than the maudlin circus of bad taste showcased by Disney during the premiere of "Pearl Harbor" is if Spielberg & Hanks had Tom Savini litter the beach with bloodied replicas of U.S. soldiers, surrounded by anti-tank rebar. Disney should hold its head in shame. I am shocked that a class act like Goofy didn't cancel his contract after that fiasco. I also can't imagine Spielberg & Hanks would have done anything that reprehensible. I suspect it was a tasteful affair.

  • June 11, 2001, 1:55 p.m. CST

    Stanley Spector also raises a comment-worthy observation

    by Key Grip

    HBO series are better, in part, because they can use the language and engage in the adult-oriented dialogue forbidden to Network shows. "Dream On" was a superb advance in sitcoms, but when edited-for-network re-runs appeared on regular TV (on, what, FOX?) they were not much better than other sitcoms. Can you envision a world where "The Sopranos" eliminates the "Fuck you, Ritchie!"s and the "Shut the fuck up, Janice!"s or the "What, no fuckin' ziti?!"s and is as good? No you can't, friend. Remember what Roy Blount, Jr. said about the F-Word: it's enough to perpetuate the race.

  • June 11, 2001, 3:01 p.m. CST

    I agree with Drive! Kowalski! and Key Grip...

    by Uncapie

    ...the Disney affair was pretty crass. You have to remember that places where battles took place are hallowed ground. Soldiers died in combat and blood was spilled. The appropriate thing to have done in Disney's case would have been to have their party in Hollywood as far away from Pearl Harbor and Hickham Field and pay tribute to the men and women that lost their lives that day with a quiet rememberance ceremony or given money to the survivors. These men and women are in their eighties and they deserve to spend the remainder of their lives without the fear of bills piling up, mortgages due or fear of not having enough to eat. How many were left? Thirty or so? Disney could have given them one wish each, granted it and it would have made a difference rather than a party nobody really cared about and would forget. Disney used to be the happiest place on Earth. Now, its become the greediest. People wonder why we have very little respect for our country, Its that we have no respect for ourselves.

  • June 11, 2001, 9:34 p.m. CST

    2 Silver Stars, 3 Bronz Stars . . .

    by djchemicalspill

    Damn, Father Geek. That made me cry. Maybe it just captured the moment perfectly.

  • June 11, 2001, 9:37 p.m. CST

    Bronze--with an E

    by djchemicalspill

    Before anyone else can comment. Yes. I know bronze is spelled with an "E."

  • June 12, 2001, 4:30 a.m. CST

    SAVING RYAN - One More Time With Feeling Hoss

    by TectorGorch

  • June 12, 2001, 4:40 a.m. CST

    SAVING RYAN - One More Time With Feeling Hoss

    by TectorGorch

    This mini-series does look amazing. When I first switched from studying writing in terms of prose to going to film school and studying screenwriting the first limitation/challenge I crashed my skull into was time limitations. Two hours is simply not enough time to do justice to the broad scope that is a human life. Wether your lead character is a plumber or a hired killer the amount of characterization a writer can squeeze into two hours is short story quality at best. That is why I look forward to this series so much. I loved the visuals and the heart behind SPR, but I also felt like after the D-Day invasion set piece the rest of the film could have been any number of John Wayne flicks. This shortfall was because the filmmakers had to use shorthand to tell this story so they put the requisite mixed bag of troops ("The Big Red One" is the best example of this) and sent them on a clearly defined mission that had a definate completion point. In WWII units weren't made up of a "Guy from New York, a Country Boy" etc. Many times whole untis came from the same town and community and were led by officers from that town or community. The military was still structured that way during WWII, much like it was in the days of the Civil War where community regiments were the norm. Hopefully BOB's running time has given them the chance to open the war up and show us the true sweep of history.

  • June 12, 2001, 7:34 a.m. CST

    From the Earth to the Moon was awesome.

    by corran22

    The Band of Brothers DVD boxed set will look nice next to my 4 FtEttM DVDs. oh yeah, and Patton is the best WWII movie.

  • June 12, 2001, 12:48 p.m. CST

    Imagine how cool it would be if...

    by Wee Willie

    ...Every network made shows like HBO does? Would make channel surfing a lot of fun... Unless you're Joe Leiberman or Pat Robertson. But there's always PAX, isn't there?

  • June 12, 2001, 10:11 p.m. CST

    Awesome.

    by robopimp

    I have been waiting for this mini-series ever since I heard one was being made. It looks awesome! I'm looking foward to these films almost as much as I am EP2 and LOTR.

  • June 18, 2001, 8:11 a.m. CST

    Sounds Great, but

    by Mifune

    Over here in England there was a whole thing about BOB in the Sunday Times, going on about how the BBC paid