Stephen King’s novels and short stories were mined relentlessly during the late 70′s and through the 80′s and the early 90′s. For the most part the film and tv adaptations of his work were adequate and passable. Some were downright awful and made one wonder if King was just trying to cash as many of his work for licensing paychecks or if he really thought the studios who purchased the rights would actually do a good job adapting them. One such studio which seemed to have done a very good job adapting one of King’s greatest works, Salem’s Lot, was Warner Brothers who adapted the classic vampire novel to become a mini-series for CBS.
I never saw the mini-series when it first aired in 1979, but I did see it a few years later when it re-aired on TV and then many more times on VHS and then on DVD. Tobe Hooper directed the hell out of this mini-series and turned what was a very complex modern retelling of Bram Stoker’s Dracula into a 3-hour mini-series that was both gothic and downright terrifying despite the restraints of TV.
While the mini-series does seem dated now it still retains that creepiness, foreboding atmosphere and scares which made Hooper’s Salem’s Lot one of the better King adaptations. The scene which will always stick with me and still gives me the chills whenever I watch it is when Danny Glick’s younger brother visits him in the hospital. This scene is just downright scary whether watching it as a 9 year-old or one in their 30′s.
HBO’s 10-part mini-series in 2001 adapting historian Stephen Ambrose’s best-selling book, Band of Brothers, was a hit and success with both critics and the general audiences. The book and the series detailed the life of members of Easy Company of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division during it’s campaign. A campaign which first began during training in Toccoa, Georgia then moving on to the Allied training in the UK before participating in some of the bloodiest battles of the Allied Western Front Campaign: Normandy, Operation Market Garden, Battle of Bastogne and finally the taking of Berchtesgarden and Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest.
The mini-series was known for it’s historical accuracy and attention to battlefield detail. Band of Brothers owes much of its visual and film-style to Stephen Spielberg’s (he was one of it’s exec. producers with Tom Hanks being another) WWII epic, Saving Private Ryan. The heavily washed-out color stock gave the series an almost black-and-white quality with just the sudden splashes of color like red and orange to highlight blood and fire. When it came to the battles the series set the bar quite high with Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down and Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan being the only two to match it in technical mastery.
The series has become a yearly staple comes Memorial and Veteran’s Day in the US. I could always wake-up on those two holidays, turn on The History Channel and see a Band of Brothers marathon. Easter has it’s DeMille The Ten Commandments and these two holidays celebrating the sacrifices of soldiers, living and dead, have their BoB.
It’s now 2010, HBO Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks go for round two with another 10-part WW2 mini-series simply titled, The Pacific. This second series will move from the European Theater of Operations over to the Pacific. Like the first mini-series, The Pacific will tell the story of the war from the eyes of a couple men on the ground. This time the men are Marines of the 1st Marine Division and through the eyes of some of these men we see WW2 fought in the Pacific and despite being fought in the same war it distinguishes itself for it’s sheer brutality. Audiences will learn such hallowed names such as Guadalcanal, Peleliu and Okinawa.
So, March 2010 people who enjoyed Band of Brothers should definitely tune in to HBO and watch it’s bookend series: The Pacific.