This powerful and thought provoking film chronicles the compelling events in the Pacific Theater of WWII, from the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 to the American occupation of Japan in ... See full summary »
Returning to Normandy is a short documentary that follows the dedication ceremony of the Richard D. Winters Leadership Monument, and features Easy Company veterans Al Mampre, Ed "Doc" Pepping, Frank Perconte, and Herb Suerth, Jr.
Over a period of two years, Mark Cowen and his crew travelled to 30 U.S. and ten European cities, to interview the veterans of Easy Co. The stories, told by the veterans themselves, create a history of the Second World War from the point of view of this heroic company of men, made famous in the mini-series Band of Brothers. Written by
"We Stand Alone Together" serves as an epilogue of sorts for the nonpareil mini-series "Band of Brothers." While it is best appreciated having seen "BoB," this sublime piece of work also functions well as a stand-alone (no pun intended) documentary.
Watching "Together" captures the essence of being a young boy, listening at the knee of your grandfather as he relates war stories. If the doc consisted of nothing more than showing the men reminiscing, it would have been great. But overlaying the men's tales is remarkable archival footage of the events they describe, along with a few necessary slides that provide pertinent information. Add this to having watched the described events in "BoB," and one has a more vivid account of WWII than anything one's imagination might invent.
Seeing the former soldiers tell their stories provides a fuller appreciation for what they endured. As phenomenal as "BoB" is, hearing the words straight from the men makes the events more personal, because you know that they have survived both the war and life itself in the aftermath. Perhaps most enlightening of all was learning of the respect that the American soldiers had for the Germans. They understood that the Germans were humans too, just in drastically different circumstances.
The documentary further emphasizes a tagline from "BoB." These were ordinary men doing extraordinary things. Listening to them explain that they simply returned to 'normal' life following the war is almost stunning. The modern soldier is still human, but much more trained and honed, often a professional soldier, leading us to think of them as almost superhuman. Most World War II soldiers were common people, which makes their accomplishments all the more head-shaking.
The documentary is also superb technically. The pacing in particular stands out. Shunning the common modern choices of quick cuts or attention-grabbing music, the film proceeds deliberately with quiet undertones. Consistently using fades in and out of footage and interviews, director Mark Cowen allows time for the viewer to absorb the power of what is said and shown.
Bottom Line: Phenomenal stories of phenomenal people related in a exceptional way. 10 of 10.
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