Saturday, May 17, 2014

Band of Brothers, Nudge Not to Forget & Astrological Quirk .

We're currently watching a box-set of VHS tapes of the TV series from 2001: Band of Brothers. I bought it on our last trip, realising that one of its prominent actors was Damian Lewis who became even better-known through his role in the later TV series Homeland. I'd first become aware of Damian Lewis in an updated version of The Forsyte Saga, in which he played Soames Forsyte, a not particularly pleasant character yet one who, in the hands of a talented actor, can still manage to evoke some sympathy. There was a hint of that same "feel" in Lewis's role of Nick Brody, suspected terrorist corroborator in Homeland.

In Band of Brothers we are never in doubt as to the stellar character of the man Damian Lewis plays, Lieutenant/Captain/Major Richard Winters, a person of absolute integrity, undisputed courage and quiet leadership skills...John Wayne he ain't, and all the better for it! Major Winters himself, as well as others of "Easy" Company, 101st Airborne Division, contribute their thoughts at the beginning of each episode..

Before the end of this post I intend to mention something astrologically interesting about the way Damian Lewis was chosen to play Major Richard Winters - just reminding myself !

We finished watching the 10 episodes of Band of Brothers this week. There could be no thought of "binge-watching" this series though, it's far too potently disturbing. I did feel we needed to watch it, to refresh our minds about what war truly amounts to in real human terms. We must never forget! Repeating: We must never forget! (See this from Common Dreams yesterday, 16 May).

I owe a debt of gratitude myself to the American servicemen who, during my early childhood during World War 2, came to the aid of Britain. Many fell in action, and the majority of those who were fortunate enough to return home will by now have passed on. Without their assistance to our own brave soldiers, sailors and airmen in those dark days, it's hard to know how Britain, as we know it, could have survived. That was a true war, World War II, not the custom-built, made-for-profit wars of the 21st century.

Main setting of Band of Brothers is mainland Europe, with a couple of early episodes in a training camp in Georgia, USA, and some fleeting glimpses brief stop-overs in England. As the title suggests, the series tells in detail what the war experience was like for a group of US servicemen from "Easy" Company, part of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. The series was an adaptation, with some dramatic license involved, of Stephen E. Ambrose's 1992 book of the same title.

When I bought the box set of Band of Brothers I hadn't realised that we are heading towards the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the drama and horror of the original is superbly depicted in an early episode.

I hadn't realised, when we began watching the tapes, that it was as long ago as 2001 when the series was first aired on HBO in the USA and, I understand, it was just days before that dreadful date now known as 9/11. It's not surprising that the series lost much of its impact at that time. It gained a "second wind" on later repeat showings though, and especially with the release of VHS tapes and DVD recordings.

I'm not a fan of war movies in general, especially of war movies made in the USA, especially of war movies starring John Wayne who, apparently, won the war practically single-handed. I've named before the scant handful of war movies I admire, top of the list is The Victors directed by Carl Foreman (see post HERE). Band of Brothers reminded me of the tone of that movie at times. It's honest, raw and painful to watch.

In reading a few online reviews I have seen some unpleasant comments on the series - I rather wish I hadn't stumbled upon them. There are still a few people around with twisted ideas about World War II, possibly encouraged by some modern revisionist historians - and bigots like Mel Gibson. It's best that I refrain from further detail because steam is starting to exit my ears already!

 Major Richard Winters
 Damian Lewis as Major Winters
Now, back to the interesting tidbit about Damian Lewis being chosen to play Major Winters, who is "the spine" of the series, as described by the actor in a set of 6 interview videos on YouTube. (The link is to Part 1, other parts are listed to its right on YouTube).

Lewis, as Winters, appears at some point in every episode, even though every episode's story focuses upon a different character. He describes the way he handled depicting such a heroic and well-respected leader. Over the 9 months of production, he recalled, the actors, especially those who appeared in multiple episodes, began to feel almost schizophrenic from living inside their characters' lives so intensely for so long.

During the interviews Lewis is asked how he was chosen for the part of Winters. He describes how the interviews were conducted, broadly at first, with up to to 100 actors reading randomly for all/any parts, the actors then were gradually filtered to the point when Lewis was being earmarked to play Richard Winters. He admits that he was very surprised to be chosen for the part. Damian Lewis is English, though he does an American accent better than any non-American actor I've heard. The casting director told him that he had known from the first few lines Lewis read on the very first day of auditions that he was "the one". It was this remark that led me to look at the dates of birth of Richard Winters and Damian Lewis.

Without times of birth exact Moon positions and ascendants are not known. Charts below are set for 12 noon.

Both natal Suns in Aquarius! I need go no further. It's enough for me to see the Aquarius link. The casting director must surely have, all unknowingly, had a strongly aligned astro-antenna, or maybe a list of dates of birth of the auditioning actors and an interest in astrology. I wonder!

Major Richard Winters: January 21 1918, New Holland, Pennsylvania. He died in January 2011.

Damian Lewis : February 11 1971, London UK

 Damian Lewis with Major Winters


mike said...

Doubt that I'll ever watch "Band of Brothers". I don't often watch movies, unless they're on the local TV airwaves. My WW2 veteran father loved watching war movies and the war was still fresh during my adolescent years, so I had an early saturation leading to aversion. I don't like violence, specially the war scene depictions.

About a decade ago, I watched the entirety of Channel 4s "The 1940s House" and loved it...highly recommend it. It was shown in the USA on PBS. I can't find any free video links, but I'm sure they must exist. Here's Wiki:

mike (again) said...

Art from WW2
In today's Guardian:

Twilight said...

mike ~ I understand how you feel. I don't think I'd have wanted to watch the "Band of Bros" series if it hadn't been for an interest in Damian Lewis whose acting work I'd admired in "Homeland" recently. But I'm glad, now, that I bought the box-set of tapes. War scenes are very hard to watch: injuries, death, prisoners, death camps, work camps etc. But I believe we need reminding of these things, and of what humans are capable of, for both good and ill.

I was still in the UK at the time the "1940s House" series was aired in 2001, but must have missed it. It wasn't a good time for me then.
It does sound to have been a good idea for a TV show though.

Twilight said...

mike (again)~ thanks for the Guardian links - I'm amazed that those murals have survived, good ones too!

I guess there'll be a spate of war-related stuff appearing from now until June and the 70th anniversary of D-Day. It was coincidental that I came across the "Band of Bros" tape set in an antique/junk store in Texas a few weeks ago - it turns out to have been timely!

LB said...

Twilight ~ That link to the Common Dreams piece on remembering the Holocaust was quite the coincidence for me, since just yesterday I watched the movie "The Memory Thief":

I was struck by what one of the movie's characters -a Holocaust survivor- said about sharing his experiences right after his release. It was something along the lines of people not being interested in and/or not wanting to hear or know about the terrible things he and other survivors went through.

Sometimes that's how it is with the truth, *ANY* truth, not just the truths related to war or the Holocaust. It's far easier to deny, dismiss or minimize it and all those who are courageous enough to speak it than it is to know.

Twilight said...

LB ~ Yes - it's the "head in the sand" syndrome.

I haven't seem the film you mention - I shall watch for a chance to see it.

I linked to the Common Dreams page as an afterthought, mainly due to this quote:

"Nazi influences are growing in Europe for the same reasons they did back then. The social safety nets have been torn, and people are left behind...Hopelessness is what comes first. Then the hatred."

LB said...

Twilight ~ One of the saddest human failings is our ability to rationalize away the quiet inner voice of conscience and truth. It's why even those of us who've been on the receiving end of some of the most horrific forms of oppression and cruelty can so easily forget the lessons and become oppressors ourselves.

Twilight said...

LB ~ Indeed!

The effects of human wickedness are written on the page of history in characters of blood: but the impression soon fades away; so more blood must be shed to renew it. ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, 1827