Band of Brothers: Day of Days   First Watch 
June 6, 2014 11:22 AM - Season 1, Episode 2 - Subscribe


(I can't currently add the "First Watch" label to this post, but that's how I'm approaching these.)
posted by asterix (10 comments total)
I watched this just the other night. Wonderfully done; they capture both the SNAFUs, how they were able to cope with those, and them coming face to face with the realities of war. The assault on the artillery positions was just fantastically done and filmed.
posted by nubs at 11:43 AM on June 6, 2014

See, I found the Brecourt Manor assault almost impossible to follow; I couldn't get a sense of where everything was in space, and at this point in the series I didn't have enough of a clue as to who the various soldiers were.
posted by asterix at 11:49 AM on June 6, 2014

The first time through, it is impossible to follow - everyone looks pretty much the same, and they are very much going for the first person camera view to get you in the action. When you aren't trying to understand which guy is which, it actually gets a lot easier to follow them as they take out a machine gun nest, followed by spiking the artillery.

But note that it's confusing for everyone - at one point, the Germans are firing on their own positions because they think they've been over-run. I think it's a struggle for these types of shows/movies - if you pull back to give the audience a tactical view of the field, it helps them - but it breaks the connection with the characters and the immediacy of the threats/challenges/problems. Hard to do both - I think that We Were Soldiers is really the only film I can think of that got both perspectives going well.
posted by nubs at 11:54 AM on June 6, 2014

So timely. I love that. Well done.
posted by MoonOrb at 12:22 PM on June 6, 2014

The scene where Winters draws a map outlining the plan for the assault (starting at around 27:10) really helps me to understand what they are trying to do later in the assault.
posted by good in a vacuum at 4:40 PM on June 6, 2014

> See, I found the Brecourt Manor assault almost impossible to follow;

Google it. Sorry for being short like that, but google leads to a lot of links, some visual, and some descriptive, and without knowing you better I don't know which one would help you better follow the action. The episode reveals its place in the textbooks, and the variety of links on it suggest it's very well studied indeed.

That you found it hard to follow may be a legit criticism of the TV show, I'm sure, but it's understandably challenging to convey, televisually, the tactical thinking of people who are acting according to the training that nearly all of the audience doesn't have.

I and a few hundred thousand (or millions?) of players carried out the same exact assault in Call of Duty 2, as those games borrowed heavily from the existing popular media on WWII. Boy, if I had a nickel for every time I've landed on the Normandy coast, fought my way to cut the german lines at St. Lo, capture the port at Cherbourg, potted snipers in Carentan... For some reason they never make games about sitting in a trench and keeping your head down for several months.
posted by Sunburnt at 4:43 PM on June 6, 2014

So I just rewatched the episode, and this time it's a bit easier to follow the assault, but it's still confusing. In part that's because, as nubs said, the camera's pulled in so close and in some cases focused on Winters, rather than what he's shooting at; and in part because it's never entirely clear where exactly Easy Company comes from in relation to the guns. (It also doesn't help that Dog Company takes out the last gun, and the camera sticks with Easy while that happens.)

And yes, I can certainly Google it, but that's kind of beside the point. If the episode doesn't make it clear, the episode doesn't make it clear.

Regardless, it's still a good episode. It's interesting to get a completely different view of D-Day than the incredibly well-known images from the beaches; between that and the tight focus on Easy Company (rather than the invasion as a whole) it doesn't entirely feel like a D-Day episode to me.

Other random thoughts:
- Nice to see Toye get a chance to use his brass knuckles! (And after escaping not one but two point-blank grenade explosions.)
- Mularkey's an idiot. Was getting a Luger really that important?
- The look on Mularkey's face when he hears the gunfire after Speirs gives the prisoners their cigarettes is probably the image that sticks with me most from this episode. Particularly given how happy-go-lucky he was just beforehand. It's a really nice bit of acting on Scott Grimes's part.
posted by asterix at 5:29 PM on June 6, 2014

Oh, and one other thought: the sound design in this episode is amazing. It's one of the only war/battle films I can think of to make the sound of bullets passing integral to the scene, and it really heightens the atmosphere of the assault on the guns.
posted by asterix at 5:49 PM on June 6, 2014

Continuing rhe spot the (generally later to be) famous from the episode 1 thread (asterix, just saw your reply), did you spot that Speirs is actually Gossip Girl's dad? The guy who volunteers for the assault and who Winters finds dead at the end went on to be Moriarty in the BBC's Sherlock.
posted by biffa at 9:50 PM on June 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Mularkey's an idiot. Was getting a Luger really that important?

Remember, that was their first day in combat. I remember talking to my friend's late father, who was in the Battle of the Bulge, and he said, until he was actually wounded, he didn't fully realize the danger of war. Said he felt the whole time like he was in a movie. That's kind of how I felt about Malarkey going for the Luger, like at that point in his war he didn't feel like those bullets could actually hurt him.
posted by bondcliff at 8:28 AM on June 9, 2014

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