Miniature Ordnance Review looks at the world of historical and fantasy miniatures wargaming and model building. From 15mm Flames of War, to Warhammer 40K, to 1/35th scale tanks, with some potential surprises on the horizon - you'll find them here!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Miniatures and a Movie - Battle of Britain and Band of Brothers

I had the house to myself most of the day Sunday, so as per my normal practice I painted miniatures with war films going on in the background. In the process I managed to get my flak guns ready to base and made strong progress on the base coats for the remaining infantry and artillery crews. The day's film choices included 1969's Battle of Britain, and the first few episode of the epic HBO movie mini-series, Band of Brothers.

Unlike my last installment of miniatures and movies featuring The Bridge at Remagen, both of these movies stay true to the historical source material for the most part. Though it was a commercial failure, Battle of Britain does a good job of covering the 1940 air war between the Royal Air Force and the Luftwaffe. The overall historical accuracy is quite high, especially for a film of its vintage. Liberal use of Spanish-produced versions of the legendary Heinkel He-111 and Messerschmidt Bf 109 lend an air of authenticity to the shots, though there are some easily spotted differences in the Spanish variants - especially where the power-plants are concerned. The all-star cast does a good job, though the marital friction between one of the lead characters and his wife seems tacked on.

Given I had a full afternoon open, I decided to pop Band of Brothers back in during lunch and just kept going (for the record I made it through about four episodes in the afternoon). First, for the record, I understand that Band of Brothers is not perfectly accurate - in fact there are many fairly glaring inaccuracies, but so many other details capture the events, look, and feel of the era so perfectly that the overall achievement can't be ignored. Perhaps the best discussion of the historical triumphs and failures of this work can be found on Mark Bando's website. Some of the issues can be traced to Stephen Ambrose's original work, though many are "Hollywood mistakes."

Why I enjoy Band of Brothers so much is it is arguably the first time that Hollywood tried to tell a real World War II story with any real degree of accuracy.  Saving Private Ryan did a good job of showing a hauntingly accurate portrayal of the Normandy landings, but the rest of the plot was pure Hollywood. Band of Brothers, on the other hand, traces the combat experience of a unit comprised of real individuals from their training until the end of the war. Punctuated with commentary from the veterans of the unit themselves, the mini-series takes on a stature far greater than any previous Hollywood effort. They even at least try to get the German tanks right - something no American war film other than Kelly's Heroes had attempted before Saving Private Ryan.

As groundbreaking as Band of Brothers was, I'm not sure I've seen anything surpass it since. While World War II movies saw a renaissance in the late 1990's and early 2000's, the market seems to be cooling a bit with the modest returns Fury has achieved at the box office (which sadly, I have yet to see!). Got a good film recommendation for Miniatures and a Movie? Pass it along!


  1. Mike, you really need to see Fury. Would be great to hear your Rivet-Counting self provide a review, plus, accuracies or not, it was a very entertaining flick AND Shia LeBeouf didn't suck. For once.

    Battle of Britain was a flick I grew up watching with my Grandfather multiple times.(He was an RAF armourer) All I hear in my head when I think on it is "repeat please".

    1. Fury is on my list - may have to wait for blu-ray... just because they got to use the real Tiger... *drool*

      I loved that scene in Battle of Britain - it was just a great moment... :D