Band of Brothers vs Saving Private Ryan


September 9, 2009, 10:56 AM
I have never seen Band of Brothers, but I do own Saving Private Ryan. How does BoB compare to Saving Private Ryan in terms of accuracy, story, and overall quality? Which did you enjoy more, BoB or SPR?

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September 9, 2009, 11:03 AM
Just for clarification, Band of Brothers is not a movie but a mini-series, I think 10 parts, each an hour long.

Band of Brothers is longer and tells more of the story and includes interviews with the "real deal" guys who are being portrayed in the series by actors. If I understand right, the stories in Band of Brothers are fairly accurate as they did interview the surviving members of Easy Company for the series.

I enjoy both for what they are, but as to your question I'd have to give the nod to BoB.

Then again, my preference may be swayed because of the episode about the Ardennes and the fact that my grandfather spent a good deal of his overseas time there in an artillery unit finding himself, and his partner, behind the wrong lines at least once. That episode has a very personal connection for me.

September 9, 2009, 11:10 AM
My opinion is swayed towards Saving Private Ryan since my paternal grandfather fought in Normandy and was killed in St. Lo. He is buried at the National Cemetary in Normandy, and my wife and I are the only ones in the family who have traveled to see his grave site. The cemetary scenes from Private Ryan are deeply personal to me.

September 9, 2009, 11:14 AM
fwiw, Tom Hanks said that BoB used the equivalent amount of pyrotecnics from all of SPR by episode 3 of BoB.

It shows.

Both are great, and worth owning on blueray.

September 9, 2009, 11:40 AM
The closest depiction of combat ever filmed was the Normandy invasion in "Ryan"

Ryan was also more intense as there was less time to tell the story.


September 9, 2009, 11:53 AM
Remember that BoB was done by Spielberg and Hanks. They put the same care, maybe more, into it than they even did with SPR. Both are great but I think I like BoB a bit more.

September 9, 2009, 12:01 PM
Why not get both and see for yourself?

September 9, 2009, 12:08 PM
I liked both movies. I think that BOB was the better of the two movies. It gave a diary of the action and the reasons behind many of the situations that were encountered. Ryan was an action movie and a good one at that. BOB was an attempt at a documentary that would still keep the interest of the audience using creative artistic dramalizations... Both have inaccuracies and both were created for enjoyment (with a little learning hidding inside)...

September 9, 2009, 12:11 PM
I have both on DVD and enjoy them. However, I like BOB a bit better as its based on the real experiences of EZ company, not a fictional hybrid of sorts woth SPR. I will say that I think Tom Hanks is great in SPR and did a superb job of producing BOB with Spielberg. Both BOB and SPR are worth owning.

September 9, 2009, 12:22 PM
I like both. BoB is pretty much history (a little creative license taken) and SPR is more historical fiction. They both rank in my top ten of best war movies (which include The Longest Day, Pork Chop Hill, and A Bridge Too Far). BoB did have a lot more time to tell the story than any of the others. Just about any episode would make a good movie. Combined they make a great movie.

BoB and SPR are able to show how all the ordinary guys who were teachers, barbers, janitors, and cab drivers went to war, did extraordinary things, and returned to their ordinary lives.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
September 9, 2009, 12:30 PM
Definitely get both; they are both great. BoB is NOT action-packed from end to end like SPR. The action scenes are quite realistic, but there aren't as many of them - it's a long mini-series that takes a lot of time developing the relationships of some of the characters personally, and spends a lot of time on the war aftermath - little to no action there. A lot of slow parts. Very different in that sense. Best thing about BoB is the commentary at the beginning of each episode from actual surviving soldiers.

Don't forget, Blackhawk Down is wonderful for uber-realism as well - enough to make you cringe.

September 9, 2009, 12:36 PM
Different purposes; differen scale; different scope. SBR is a mircocosm of the war: one squad with a single purpose in mind, caught up in the greater cause which culminates in the final scene. BoB paints a larger picture through Easy Company and encompasses more of the war.

Both are highly excellent and, while some fiction may have been introduced in both (ie., elements of dialogue; some characters), by and large both do an excellent job.

One thing is for certain. Band of Brothers would not have happened had it not been for the commercial success of Saving Private Ryan. Seeing and hearing how well SPR was received caused Hanks and Spielberg to fully commit to the BoB project (I understand both wanted to do something like it before, but they didn't know if it would sell - the ultimate purpose of the film/TV industry). It is a distinct parallel to what Hanks did with Apollo 13 and then his "From the Earth to the Moon" miniseries (I believe that was the title...might not be, though) - one led to the other.


September 9, 2009, 12:41 PM
I just put "Band of Brothers" on my wish list. If it compares to or is better than "Saving Private Ryan", I can see no reason not to buy it. I already have SPR and BD.


W L Johnson
September 9, 2009, 12:49 PM
Not comparing the two but I have bought Band of Brothers as presents and loaned out my copy and almost to a one they have said it was the best thing they have ever seen on their TV. Some of them even disliked all other war movies but Band of Brothers pulled them in.

September 9, 2009, 12:49 PM
Band of Brothers is so good in terms of the character development that you really really care how it goes for the guys. I can now watch 15 minutes of that at any point and know and care what happens.

The episode where they assault the gun emplacements on D-Day is probably some of the best dramatic combat film ever made...can't imagine what would be better. Not knocking the beach scene in Private Ryan though...not at all.

You know, there is another war movie that is one of the I am not refering to "The Big Red One" (which is just great)...the original, 1930 "All Quiet on the Western Front". The dialog style seems very corny today (after all they'd only been making talking movies for a year) but the writing, the direction and what they say is just gripping. You will never look at a plate of beans and wieners again after you see that film (not gross or anything) and you'll know what I am talking about. It is an anti-war film (written by a WWI veteran of the German trenches) but they send their message by showing war for what it is...not making statements.

Truely a great film.

But Band of Brothers is the best.

Blackhawk Down is truely great as well. The efforts of those guys just getting back makes them winners. That mission went poorly because the big shots messed it up. The soldiers did a great job and we are fortunate that only 18 of our fighting men lost their lives that day. Because of the actions of the fighting men portrayed in that film, we didn't loose 50 or 60. To me, the guys who walked back into the soccer stadium won their war. Sort of "Retreat? We're attacking in the opposite direction!" kind of a thing.

September 9, 2009, 01:05 PM
I have to say I own both and enjoy watching them. My eleven year old is a little too young to watch the first few scenes of SPR and I think he's too young for a lot of the language in both but he and I do watch Band of Brothers together. Like many others posting here, I'd like to think I have a personal connection too. My Grandfather drove a duece-and-a-half in and out of Bastogne, when that was possible of course. I also really enjoy the commentary from the men who were there. They all in a little way remind me of my Granddaddy. We owe that generation a great debt.

September 9, 2009, 01:36 PM
Watched both - voted Band of Brothers. My favorite war flick is John Wayne in "They Were Expendible".

Don't know about accuracy since I wasn't there. I was a Vietnam ERA vet but had never been sent there.

I don't want to steal the thread but I wonder which Vietnam movie is most accurate.

September 9, 2009, 01:38 PM
They're both first rate. My dad was army infantry, right there in the thick of it, so I feel a connection to both. In terms of realism and historical accuracy I'd give the edge to BoB; for pure entertainment I'd give the edge to SPR - for example the sniper vs. sniper scene in the French village is just amazing.

September 9, 2009, 01:43 PM
Thanks for all of the replies. I just ordered BoB from Amazon. The BoB set is like $35 bucks at the moment....

September 9, 2009, 01:54 PM
SPR had a brutally realistic opening sequence, but moved further and further away from reality towards Sillywood as the plot developed. Everything from impossible sniper shots to Tom Sizemore taking multiple 8x57JS hits at point blank and still being able to make witty remarks about having the wind knocked out of him. The finale was all Hollywood, right out of the war movies the director loved as a child. Nothing wrong with that, but BOB stayed on point from start to finish with only minor deviations from what actually happened. I really like the idea of following the unit through the war. The Finnish classic "Talvisota" is similar, and also well worth watching if you can find it.

My favorite war flick is John Wayne in "They Were Expendible".

That's an excellent film, but not as well known as it should be. Ford made it during the war and a few of the actors including Robert Montgomery were fresh from the action. It's pretty brutal esp. when compared with the flashier war films of the 50's.

September 9, 2009, 02:28 PM
Both are great movies. I enjoy BoB more.

September 9, 2009, 02:32 PM
SPR had a brutally realistic opening sequence, but moved further and further away from reality towards Sillywood as the plot developed. Everything from impossible sniper shots to Tom Sizemore taking multiple 8x57JS hits at point blank and still being able to make witty remarks about having the wind knocked out of him. The finale was all Hollywood, right out of the war movies the director loved as a child. Nothing wrong with that, but BOB stayed on point from start to finish with only minor deviations from what actually happened. I really like the idea of following the unit through the war. The Finnish classic "Talvisota" is similar, and also well worth watching if you can find it.

I prefer BoB, and this is almost exactly my opinion. Minus the "Talvisota" reference (haven't seen it).

September 9, 2009, 02:37 PM
Band of Brothers is one of the best films/shows/series/movies ever in my opinion!

Can't wait for Pacific...if it's 1/2 as good, I'll still be happy :)

September 9, 2009, 02:41 PM
Well, my vote is for BoB. I think it is an honest presentation of the facts and how things went down. SPR, however gave some very dramatic moments. I did not sleep well for several nights after seeing it. The mother sitting on the porch sobbing brought memories to me of my Uncle killed in France in 1944. One thing that will always stay with me is that that generation of both men and women will stand out from the rest for all times. In my opinion all wars are a terrible waste of life and resources, but the nature of the beast so to speak. Mankind needs people like them to put it on the line or we are doomed to consume ourselves.
Now I will get off my soap box.
Sorry for going off on a tangent.

September 9, 2009, 04:20 PM
I think the first and last 10 min. of SPR are among the most realistic movie combat scenes ever...

unfortunately.... they butchered the true story and ruined the movie with an "anti-authority" theme, that imho, dishonors the vets...

SPR does not even closely resemble the true story that inspired it....which was the story of Fritz Niland, who was pulled out of combat in the days after D-day...

He was found and yanked from the lines by an Army Chaplain, who did go forward into the thick of the fighting to get the guy.

It turned out that all of his brothers were not dead after all. The brother shot down in a bomber in the pacific survived a year in a Jap. POW camp and was liberated at the end of the war.

BOB was a more realistic portrayal of actual events.... but some of the episodes were too "touchy feely" for my liking, and the combat scenes were not of the same realism as SPR (imo)

I read the book by Steven Ambrose... which is AWESOME! and as usual... the movie/series wasn't as good as the book.

Lt. Winters, was an amazing man.... read the book to learn more

September 9, 2009, 04:27 PM
I like both movies, both have similiar style, it's just that BOB has a longer running story which I think creates a more intimate attachment to the guys from Easy Co. Get both, you won't regret it.

Paul Kersey
September 9, 2009, 04:28 PM
Band of Brothers.
I had the pleasure of growing up 2 blocks down the street from Sgt. "Bull" Randleman and his family, so I knew him for life. His daughter and I shared the same exact birthday and went all through school together. I knew he was in WWII but it wasn't a big deal. Every dad in the neighborhood was, and some also in Korea. When the movie started filming in made big local news as the actor who played him in the film made several visits to get a feel for Mr. Randleman. Sorry to say he passed away a few years ago.

Erik M
September 9, 2009, 04:36 PM
both are pretty good, I think due to the length of Band of Brothers it captured more of the reality and emotion associated with the content. It has my vote.

September 9, 2009, 05:52 PM
Some of the events portrayed in Saving Private Ryan were hopelessly unrealistic. The assault on the detached German radar station would never occur in real life. The orders were to get Pvt Ryan and that's all a real commander would have been doing while preserving the lives of his command by avoiding unnecessary contact.

Letting the German prisoner from the radar station go free was just ridiculous. In real life prisoners were only taken when the brass wanted them and the number of prisoners wanted was specified by the brass. All others were shot on the spot.

The scene where the wall falls and a dozen Germans and another dozen allied forces stood and screamed at each other to surrender for several seconds was a joke. In real life everybody in the scene would have immediately begun shooting with maybe two or three out of the total number surviving but with horrendous wounds.

I have, of course watched the film but the numerous departures from reality don't put it very high on my list. OTOH, BOB is the real deal. My favorites include "Stalingrad" and "The Iron Cross" with James Coburn was also good.

BTW, my father in law, now deceased was taken prisoner by the Germans at Normandy. He was captured with one other GI. Their papers were examined by the Germans. The other GI was shot on the spot. My father in law was spared because his name was very German. His name was Elba Egbert Kinder.

September 9, 2009, 06:01 PM
I think after reading so many other post that SPR even though loosely based on an actual event, was a product of the directors and writers to tell that base story but also trying to incorporate the random acts of courage, bravery and luck that happened throughout the entire war. It kinda gave a feeling of the uncertainties and foolish acts of bravery and selfless devotion to orders and country.

September 9, 2009, 07:19 PM
The opening scenes of SPR was scary real to me. But, as others here
have said, after that the story went "Hollywood". It was an interesting story,
but not up to the level of BOB, which was all based on true events that
happened to multiple people over a period of many months.
I know a lot of people found it somewhat tedious but I enjoyed the banter
and camaraderie that went on amongst the members of Easy company
during the quiet times, away from the combat. I thought it was pretty
accurate as to what life is like in a combat rifle company between "engage-
ments", so to speak.


September 9, 2009, 07:24 PM
I like them equally well. They are both two different story's with two different aspects of WWII.

The only thing that I felt let down on with BoB was that at times, the series seemed "distant" and woefully compressed. Take for instance, Operation Market Garden. It just seemed like that part of the series was entirely to short, or lacking of what really took place during OMG. But then again, since I only know what took place from the history books, and the BoB series is about them and not the battles in their entirety, maybe for Easy Company it really was that short and .... lack luster???

September 9, 2009, 08:24 PM
Liked parts of SPR but liked every minute of BOB. If you're going to buy movies you really need to buy Blackhawk Down. I can watch it time after time, except for the scenes when the sniper team goes in. Not ashamed to say that that scene makes my eyes leak.

September 9, 2009, 08:28 PM
. Take for instance, Operation Market Garden. It just seemed like that part of the series was entirely to short, or lacking of what really took place during OMG.

I believe they were limiting the show to what the men actually experienced. For the soldiers, they would have had little idea of the larger operation or other battles.

September 9, 2009, 08:45 PM
All I can say is that while BoB did its first run on HBO I would move heaven and earth to set aside Sunday evenings so that I could watch it. When it ended, I felt kinda hollow. It could have been even longer and I would have watched more.

Having said that, the main reason I tuned in with high hopes (which weren't disappointed) was having seen SPR already. When I went off to see SPR in a movie theatre it was 'cause I was on vacation and bored. Thought I was going see some typical Hollyweird war movie.

Well - the opening sequence in Normandy just rocked me, and I knew then (even with the usual Hollyweird nonsense thrown in) this would be UNLIKE any war movie I had ever seen.

Both are excellent and likely doesn't do justice to compare them exactly as one is a miniseries the other a theatrical release.

Al LaVodka
September 9, 2009, 08:45 PM
Saving Private Ryan was a real movie, and a better war picture to me, although, I thought Band of Brothers was a better drama in many respects.

September 9, 2009, 08:47 PM
They're both great flicks. Everyone should own them.

I just humbly wonder if there's anyone posting on THR that was actually there. They have my awe, admiration, heartfelt thanks, and undying respect.

Just curious...


September 9, 2009, 08:59 PM
Band of Brothers because its a true story, they tell the story at least half way accurately, and Major Winters is a legend in his own time. The DVD version of BOB has interviews before each segment of the actual easy company vets (not sure if the HBO showed them or not), and ill never forget the one they did with Major Winters and he showed the pistol given to him that had never been fired. Talk about moving.

Those interviews with the vets changed my entire view on war. I probably enjoyed them more than the actual movies.

SPR is great but after I saw BOB I haven't found a movie that can top that series.

September 9, 2009, 09:17 PM
Wow, great question. I answered that I like both equally well but for many different reasons.

First of all, they BOTH greatly influenced me to serve and deploy to combat with the 101st Airborne Division, which has an amazingly rich history. In SPR, of course Private Ryan and several other supporting cast (including Ted Danson's character with the 101st Pathfinders) were members of the 101st and they fought hard in the last part of the movie. In BoB, of course, the entire series follows what is now 4th Brigade of the 101st (Currahee). I have accomplished a lot of goals, including having served with 3rd BCT 101st on my first combat tour in Iraq. I owe some of that, oddly, to Hanks and Speilberg (quite anti-war I believe) but not so oddly to those men that fought and also gave interviews on BoB.

SPR is about 2.5 hours, 1/4 the length of BoB and therefore has to fit more character development and action in much less time. SPR is arguably the best war movie of all time. It's believable, lacks the unrealistic scenes that scar many war movies (shooting from the hip, dumb dialogue, bad effects, 'hero' characters, etc.). It's scary realism from start to end. And the characters are very real and human. Five stars.

BoB is a 10 hour miniseries. I'm a paratrooper (another goal partly as a result of the BoB series), so it's very close to my heart. I have such appreciation and admiration for those brave men that jumped into Europe. Those scenes are so chilling to me. The character development is also top shelf. War scenes are very real, but with a longer series there are more mistakes (albeit all quite minor mistakes). The characters are very real and human too. Some episodes focus on one or two characters, which is really cool. Top shelf too, and 5 stars.

Both are great investments to own. I've watched both many times. For a few bucks you can own the two best movies ever.

The other two fantastic ones in my book are Platoon and Full Metal Jacket and Black Hawk Down.

September 9, 2009, 09:56 PM
They're both excellent and I own both. I couldn't recommend one over the other. I think these two along with Thin Red Line belong in any collection of contemporary WWII films.

And yes, my father was an infantryman who saw heavy combat in NW Europe during the war. He approves of these as well as a 1960s film, Hell Is For Heros as being realistic depictions of combat.

September 9, 2009, 11:55 PM
both are great but bob all the also check out the hurt locker if you havent..about an eod squad in iraq...really enjoyed that flick

rocky branch
September 9, 2009, 11:55 PM
SPR was too much like a comic book.
M dad was with the 506th.
He jumped Normandy, Holland, was at Bastogne and through the end.
He died when I was a kid, but left a lot of 506th related stuff I grew up with.
Primary reason I enlisted Airborne Infantry.
A lot of stuff in BOB reminded me of my airborne experience and the type of guys who do over the top stuff.
Not much enjoyable, but I preferred it over SPR.


Hk Dan
September 10, 2009, 02:04 PM
For the first time EVER, I saw authentic looking German tanks with Zimmerit on them. AND a Kettenrad! SPR had a Marder III--highly unusual.

With all that. Band of Brothers, hands down.

September 10, 2009, 02:43 PM
I thought we weren't allowed to talk about movies here. Just saw another thread locked recently for this very same thing. :rolleyes:

September 10, 2009, 03:04 PM
Movies are off-topic for THR, but the staff aren't all-seeing.

FWIW, both SPR and BoB are quite excellent, and I'm looking forward to seeing the new miniseries that will cover events in the Pacific.

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