So apparently, in the 1940s, there was some kind of overseas skirmish -- well, more of a really nasty squabble, actually. Something about the Germans; I don't know. But thankfully, we have Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg to tell us what common sense and history books can't: that soldiers are brave, soldiers kill, war tends to have more casualties than your average chess game, and David Schwimmer is a pussy.
The hyped Band of Brothers series starts with a When Harry Met Sally rip-off, wherein interviews with World War II veterans -- ostensibly, the real-life versions of the scrappy soldiers we'll come to know and love -- introduce each episode with reminiscences about their experience. One man recalls the disbelief he felt when the U.S. went to war, and another claims this war inspired a different level of passion than did Korea or Vietnam (which hadn't happened yet, but whatever) because we were attacked, and it made people eager to volunteer and fight back. Man Three recalls signups for every military branch they'd heard of, and then some oddity called the "airborne," and no one was quite able to dissect the word and fathom what the hell "airborne" was. Man Four remembers three men from his small town committing suicide -- separately -- because they weren't able to enlist; apparently, if one can't die for one's country, one will bloody well go and die in one's garage with a shotgun to one's throat. "We did things not for the medals, or the acculades [sic]; we did what had to be done," Man Four theorizes. Man Three is still laughing that no one wanted the airborne job until the man running signups revealed paratroopers would make fifty bucks more than everyone else, for a total salary of $100, but we don't know whether it's per month or per week, and I don't know which makes more sense because my knowledge of the era's economics is roughly nil.
The credits are a prolonged sepia-toned sequence of shots from the series, set to typical Greatest Generation music. They run for two minutes and twenty-two seconds, which seems a tad overblown to me, but then again, so was all of A.I., so this vanity is to be expected. Don't get me wrong, they're lovely, but...snore.
June 4, 1944. Upottery, England. An airborne regiment is loading its planes, and men are marching somberly in packs, their faces darkened with black camouflage paint. A man cradles his dog tags and a cross in his palm while another soldier gets his hair trimmed into a very timely Mohawk. Breathing smoke from his mouth and nostrils, a squinty man stares into the camera and gives a little nod, as if to let us know that he's flirting with the fourth wall, but that he's not quite ready to take it out for dinner and a movie. Colors are muted; most of what we see are greens and grays and flesh-tones. "Easy Company!" bellows a male authority figure, standing atop a military Jeep. The group congregates. "The channel coast is socked in with rain and fire, and there's high winds in the drop zone," Authority Figure barks, adding that there is no jump tonight and that the planned invasion has been postponed. Dejected, the troops turn back toward camp, swearing softly and staring at the ground.