MORIARTY Saw BAND OF BROTHERS Tonight... Did You'!
Published at: Sept. 10, 2001, 5:47 a.m. CST by staff
Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.
Tonight I shut off the phone and turned down the lights and sat in the main room of the Moriarty Labs, where I watched episodes one and two of HBO’s new limited series, BAND OF BROTHERS. I have to apologize to Herc, since I said I wouldn't be posting about this show and he took the time and trouble to put up a Talk Back already. I have to write, though. I have no choice.
It’s rare that I cut myself off completely. Normally I’m reachable by phone or by e-mail or by Instant Messenger, but I intentionally closed out the world for two hours so I could check out this latest offering from Dreamworks and Playtone, this massive adaptation of the Stephen Ambrose book, produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. I have complex feelings about SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. Overall, I think it’s a powerful film, well made and involving, but it’s imperfect, and there are parts of it I skip any time it’s on. The idea of following Easy Company from one end of the war to the other sounded like a fascinating way to trace the experience of World War II from one particular perspective.
But now, having seen "Curahee" and "Day Of Days," the first two episodes of the series, I’m not much interested in writing a review tonight. This isn’t going to be a conventional discussion of the efforts of directors Phil Alden Robinson and Richard Loncraine or writers Erik Jendrensen, Tom Hanks, and John Orloff. All of them did exemplary work, and deserve praise for their efforts. It’s also not going to be a rundown of compliments for the cast headed by Damian Lewis, Ron Livingston, David Schwimmer, Dale Dye, and Kirk Acevedo. Again, everyone did excellent work. Schwimmer and Dye had one scene in particular, near the end of episode one, that is remarkable because of how quiet and how subtle it was, a welcome antidote to the Hollywood hisitronics of A FEW GOOD MEN or even the serious minded war films of Oliver Stone.
Instead, this is an open letter to my father, a veteran, a man who served as a paratrooper in Vietnam. I am moved to write this letter to him as a result of watching Easy Company train to be paratroopers and make their first jump into battle in Normandy, France.
Don’t get me wrong. Tonight’s not the first night I’ve realized that my father is a veteran, and it’s not the first night I’ve thought about what that means and what he must have gone through. When my father speaks of his war experiences, he is vague. He does not volunteer details. And I have grown up respecting that choice. I know that my mother doesn’t want to know details about his time overseas. She won’t even watch movies about that particular conflict. All she cares about is that he came back. All of this was before I was born, and my whole life, it’s simply been something in his past. Those experiences are his to share or not.
Tonight, though, there was a sequence that took place at night, an air raid over Normandy, that was so harrowing, so immediate, so stark and terrifying, that I feel the need to say something to my father, and to anyone who has ever served in American armed forces. I feel compelled because even if I never know the specifics of what my father went through, thanks to what I saw tonight, I have some semblance of an idea.
As strange as it is, I don’t know I’ve ever said it quite that directly. Watching those men that we had just spent an hour and ten minutes getting to know jump out of a plane into that hell on earth was a visceral thing, as pulse-quickening as the opening of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN or the T-Rex attack in JURASSIC PARK. Knowing that these men volunteered to do this, knowing that they made a conscious decision to serve their country in such a direct demonstration of courage, filled me with a new respect. BAND OF BROTHERS works on a direct emotional level, even more powerful than Hanks’ earlier FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
I speak to you tonight not just as a son who is proud of a father, but as an American who is indebted to another, to any number of others. One can debate the merit of one conflict over another, but those aren’t decisions that you had to make. You were a solider, a man who offered your services and, if necessary, your life. I am not sure I could have made the same choice. I’ve never been called upon to confront a situation like that, and there’s no way I can say for sure I am possessed of the proper character to do what you did. I am not merely impressed by what you did. I am humbled by it.
So let me say it again, and say it clearly. Thank you for what you did. You and everyone who served before you allow me to live the life I do now. Your sacrifice has kept me from having to make the choice about what I would do, and for that, I owe you more than I can hope to repay. If the rest of BAND OF BROTHERS plays out with the same amount of intensity, I expect it to be a memorable but harrowing experience. I intend to watch every moment of it, though, with undivided attention, because it’s only by reminding ourselves of the sacrifices that were made that we can continue to honor those efforts. Some might ask what value there is in telling yet another war story, but anytime something honestly conveys the essence of what it was to serve has value. Anything that can make me view my father in a new light, that can make me understand in some way what it was that he went through has value.
One last time, Michael McWeeny, allow me to say... thank you.