July 9, 2008

TV Series Review #1: Band of Brothers

7/8 Band of Brothers - Follows Easy Company, the US Army 101st Airborne division, and their mission in WWII Europe.

Zach, Ben, and I finally finished watching Band of Brothers last night. Probably because as TV series go, it's pretty short. Sure the episodes are an hour or so long each, but there's only 10 of them.

So, to sum up the series in one word: Intense. Especially the initial foray into the war, which in retrospect, is really perfect because the soldiers are also shell-shocked and chilled. Almost all war movies make me think of the famous war poem:

Dulce et Decorum Est
by Wilfrid Owen

Bent double, like of old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind:
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime…
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in sonic smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,-
My friend, you would not talk with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Which means "It is sweet and fitting to die for one's country". Though it was written during WWI, it aptly describes the numb horror and churning despair. I think along with that if I were in a war situation, I'd constantly be fitfully wavering between acceptance of my eventual death far far away from everything familiar and loved and wild, drunken, blinding hope that I'll survive and live the rest of my days peacefully.

I'd recommend it anyway though, because the amazing bond forged through the pressure and craziness is really beautiful. It's really not about why wars are fought or if there's a better way, but about the individual in the war, which can so easily be overlooked, especially when the death count gets really high (say in the 4 thousands...). It's easy to romanticise it but Band of Brothers really strikes a good balance between the awful death/dying bit and the bad ass I'll f you up if you f with my brothers.