An Overly Powerful World War II Story
by Lewis Glazebrook | ScreenRant | August 29, 2023
Band of Brothers is one of the more emotionally affecting, outstandingly produced war stories in modern TV, made up of a handful of essentially perfect scenes. Airing on HBO in 2001, Band of Brothers is based on the non-fiction book of the same name and details the exploits of “Easy” Company of the 101st Airborne Infantry Division during World War II. From the company’s experiences in boot camp and the Normandy landings on D-Day to various military operations in Europe and the end of the war, Band of Brothers outlines the horrors of the war and the camaraderie and bravery of the men and women who fought in it.
It is worth noting that, when concerning perfect scenes in Band of Brothers, it is nigh on impossible to narrow it down to a select number. It is one of the most critically acclaimed TV shows in history, and for good reason based on its incredible production design, outstanding writing, and fantastic performances from Band of Brothers‘ cast of actors. As such, it is incredibly difficult to limit the show to a certain number of impactful scenes. With that said, here are the 11 scenes that stand out across Band of Brothers‘ 10 episodes as essentially perfect, for varying different reasons pertaining to the exploration of World War II.
Band of Brothers essentially changed TV forever, based on how shows were produced and the quality to which they were upheld, something that is evident in the show’s first episode – “Currahee.” The episode details the experiences of “Easy” Company in boot camp under the strict supervision of Captain Sobel, portrayed to perfection by then-Friends actor David Schwimmer. Schwimmer’s Sobel is expertly unlikable in the episode as the hard-faced, unfair military trainer required to mold the men of “Easy” into the soldiers the U.S. Army needed to help the Allies win the war in Europe.
The episode is one of the more light-hearted of Band of Brothers and features several fantastic scenes; one summing up the overwhelmingly likable members of “Easy” to a tee is the prank pulled on Captain Sobel. After boot camp, “Easy” Company traveled to the U.K. with Sobel leading a training exercise where the platoon encountered a fence not present on his map. One of the men of “Easy,” George Luz, used his impression talents to impersonate a superior officer, ordering Sobel to cut the fence.
The reaction of the men as well as the ramifications facing Sobel, make for one of the outright funniest scenes in Band of Brothers. Given that “Currahee” leads swiftly into the true horrors of war with Band of Brothers episode 2, “Day of Days,” the scene stands out as one of the few light-hearted, hilarious scenes in the show’s entire run. Not only that, but it sums up the men beneath the helmets of “Easy” Company, allowing their ensuing journey to hit harder emotionally and rendering the prank on Captain Sobel as one truly perfect scene.
On the other side of “Currahee” is “Day of Days”, the second episode of Band of Brothers which dives head first into the horrors, fears, and harsh reality of warfare by outlining the Invasion of Normandy from the perspective of “Easy” Company. The episode opens inside the plane carrying “Easy” and instantly imparts a feeling of dread onto the viewer. From the fantastic shots of the endless aircraft carrying soldiers to the explosions and destruction that follow once the enemy begins their assault and the landing of “Easy” behind enemy lines, the Normandy Landings of Band of Brothers is a perfect scene due primarily to the realistic depiction of warfare.
What makes this scene even more perfect is Band of Brothers‘ 2001 release date. The production quality still holds up to this day from the CGI needed to emulate the events of D-Day to the excellent filmmaking on display besides that. This contributes to why “Day of Days” and Band of Brothers as a whole changed the TV landscape, with the Normandy Landings exemplifying this perfectly.
After the Normandy Landings, “Day of Days” focuses on an assault of German artillery led by Damian Lewis’ Winters. The German guns at the French estate of Brècourt were impacting the landings on Utah Beach, another aspect of Project Overlord and the Normandy Landings, forcing Winters and two squads to seize control of the guns. While the chaos of the Normandy Landings was one thing, the artillery assault in Band of Brothers episode 2 is the first real depiction of infantry warfare for “Easy” Company.
This scene is another that can be classed as perfect in Band of Brothers. The humor and camaraderie of “Easy” is still prevalent, yet the first casualties of the war begin to unfold. From Winters’ leadership to the bravery of his men, the action sequence is expertly done. The shaky cam used to film the action means that a sense of geography is never established, something that encapsulates the feeling of chaos that would have accompanied soldiers on the front lines. This, alongside the expected excellent performance of Band of Brothers‘ cast, makes the assault on Brècourt another perfect scene in the series.
Band of Brothers episode 3, “Carentan,” centers on the titular Battle of Carentan from the perspective of Paratrooper Albert Blithe. The episode is the first to focus on the horrors of warfare from an individual perspective, with Blithe’s point of view emulating how World War II affected the mental state of its soldiers. The Battle of Carentan sums this up and makes for another perfect Band of Brothers scene. The expected great performances and outstanding production design sell the battle endlessly, but it is the depiction of Blithe’s mental state during warfare that solidifies the Battle of Carentan as a perfect scene in a way that is difficult to describe.
While “Carentan” focuses on the titular battle and therefore includes several heavy, action-based scenes, the third episode of Band of Brothers also includes another perfect scene that is much smaller in scale, but no less poignant. At the end of the episode, the newly-appointed Sergeant Malarkey goes to pick up his laundry. While there, the woman responsible for the laundry asks if he can take some of the clothes belonging to other members of “Easy” who have forgotten to pick them up, not knowing they have been killed in action. Malarkey tearfully agrees to take them, in one of the show’s more upsetting, quieter, but no less perfect scenes.
The final act of “Replacements,” Band of Brothers‘ fourth episode, focuses on Michael Cudlitz’s Denver “Bull” Randleman who is left behind in the town of Nuenen after “Easy” Company is forced to retreat. The scene shows Bull hiding out in a barn with the aid of townsfolk from Nuenen and engaging in close-quarters combat with German soldiers. Bull hides out until sunrise when he is rescued by his comrades. The scene depicting Bull’s exploits is perfectly executed, showcasing the quieter, stealth-based side of being behind enemy lines. Furthermore, the scene in which Bull reunites with the men of “Easy” is one of the show’s most heartwarming.
Band of Brothers episode 6, “Bastogne,” is one of which 11 perfect scenes could have been picked out from this episode alone. Focusing on Eugene “Doc” Roe, one of “Easy” Company’s medics, the episode is one of the most harrowing in that it highlights the injuries and fatalities of World War II from the eyes of the man responsible for preventing such outcomes. In the midst of all the gut-wrenching injury sequences, a perfect scene is nestled in which Doc and a Belgian nurse named Renée share a bar of chocolate.
The scene offers an insight into the motivations of Doc and Renée, and why they do what they do. The insight is fascinating and shows two people who are sick of the sight of blood, injury, and death, yet rush into the line of fire to save lives regardless. Sharing the precious commodity of chocolate, the scene expertly showcases the people responsible for so many lives saved during World War II in a touching, poignant moment of quiet amidst the chaos.
The chocolate scene between Doc and Renée is accompanied by an equally perfect scene towards the end of the episode, though in an entirely different way. Eventually, the town of Bastogne is destroyed by German artillery, forcing Doc to rush to the hospital in search of Renée. He instead finds the hospital destroyed with Renée crushed beneath the rubble, simultaneously making the prior scene shared more perfect and providing another, if only for the heart-wrenching realism of the casualties of war. This is accompanied by outstanding special effects and performances needed to sell the destruction of Bastogne in Band of Brothers episode 6.
Many of Band of Brothers‘ best scenes are like the few from “Bastogne,” that being the tragic depiction of the effects warfare has on people. However, one of the most conventionally satisfying, action-movie-like sequences comes at the end of Band of Brothers episode 7, “The Breaking Point.” The entire episode is centered on the incompetence of Norman Dike, “Easy” Company’s new field commander. Due to his failure leading the men in battle, Dike is relieved of command by then-Lieutenant Speirs.
Amid the battle, “Easy” Company needed to make contact with I Company in order to defeat the German garrison. Speirs then runs the entire length of the battlefield through the middle of the German troops to reach I Company, before remarkably running back through the enemy line to rejoin “Easy.” The scene exemplifies the true bravery and courage of a proper field commander in Speirs and is undoubtedly the most chill-inducing scene in Band of Brothers that perfectly showcases one of the many heroes of World War II.
The liberation of a concentration camp in Band of Brothers episode 9, “Why We Fight,” is hard to label perfect due to how utterly difficult the scene – and episode – is to watch. However, on the level of accurately depicting the fascism of the Nazi regime that subjugated ethnic minorities, women, and of course the Jewish population of Germany and surrounding countries, “Why We Fight” features a disturbingly perfect recreation. The scene is quick to induce tears, due to the heartbreaking depiction of the Jewish members of the concentration camp being liberated by “Easy” Company.
From the exceptional production value that sells the inhumane living conditions of the Nazi concentration camps to the depiction of the prisoners who treat the American soldiers almost as deities due to their relief at being freed, the scene is beyond tragic. This is all bolstered by the theme of the episode encapsulated by the title of “Why We Fight”, as “Easy” Company and the audience are simultaneously reminded what the fight in Europe was truly for in a heart-rending, insanely difficult-to-watch, nevertheless perfect Band of Brothers scene.
A perfect, feel-good scene in Band of Brothers comes with the final episode featuring the surviving members of “Easy” Company playing a baseball game. After the horrors of war they have endured, the scene shows the men of “Easy” winding down and having fun together while Damian Lewis’ Winters outlines what happened to each member after World War II. The scene is perfect in the most simple way and ends the series on an overwhelmingly positive note, complete with the equally perfect recollection of the war by the real-life soldiers on which Band of Brothers‘ characters are based.
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