This is the story of "E" Easy Company, 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division from their initial training starting in 1942 to the end of World War II. They parachuted behind enemy lines in the early hours of D-Day in support of the landings at Utah beach, participated in the liberation of Carentan and again parachuted into action during Operation Market Garden. They also liberated a concentration camp and were the first to enter Hitler's mountain retreat in Berchtesgarten. A fascinating tale of comradeship that is, in the end, a tale of ordinary men who did extraordinary things. Written by
Several innovations involved the use and firing of squibs, the small charges that cause the bullet holes in costumes and sets. The special effects team came up with a firing mechanism using compressed air, instead of the traditional pyrotechnics, so that actors could be much closer together when a squib went off without the dangers inherent in conventional squibs. They also invented a new firing system, whereby an actor was pre-wired with up to eight hits, controlled by a button he activated that was hidden in the sleeve of his costume. See more »
When the 101st Airborne was sent into Belgium just before the
Battle of the Bulge they were ordered to remove the Screaming Eagle patch from their uniforms, so the Germans would not know they were facing an elite division. It was only after the battle when they moved into Hagenau that they were able to wear the patches again. See more »
I have read virtually all of Ambrose's WWII books, and this mini-series faithfully follows one of his best. The experience of these men of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne, was mirrored throughout the many divisions of Army and Marine ground troops in WWII. I feel that this series represents that collective experience in the finest, most forthright manner possible and pays tribute to them all. The acting, mostly by previously unheralded actors, was superb--particularly that of Damien Lewis (Capt.Winters). Winters had to mature along with his increasing command responsibilites, had to learn to turn over his initial company-level responsibilities to others as he was promoted to battalion commander. It was clearly tough for him, particularly when he had to order attacks on heavily defended objectives, without being to lead his former command directly. All of the characters were developed enough that you cared about each of them as individuals, and felt the loss of each of them through the attrition during the brutal fighting in the Northern European Theater. They cared for each other as fighting men do (confirmed by my own experience in the infantry in Vietnam), but at the same time they had to carry on with the mission regardless of loss. Replacements are regarded warily at first, but then managed to blend in with the veterans if they showed they were worthy of joining this band of brothers. The plot is real, and as such is neither macho nor macabre--it just is presented as it really happened. The truths of combat are stranger than fiction. The interviews with the actual veterans, interspersed throughout the series, added authenticity, verified what the series was showing. These representatives of "The Greatest Generation" did themselves and this nation proud. Though I knew the story well, I eagerly looked for to each new episode to see how well it tracked with the book and how well the actors and director portrayed it. Up to this series, I had thought that "Once an Eagle" (starring Sam Elliot) was the best war series, but this one is now at the top of the class in my view.
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