Thursday, April 6, 2017

Now on Netflix: Five Came Back (2017)

Five Came Back (2017) - Directed by Laurent Bouzereau.

By Kenny Howell

At the beginning of World War II, five directors at the height of their success decided to step away from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and enlist in the armed forces.

Frank Capra, John Ford, John Huston, George Stevens and William Wyler all were extremely accomplished directors at the time, but they wanted to enlist and show the reason why the Americans needed to fight and win the war. They would make films of the war, a response to the Nazi propaganda at the time, which was so striking and got the German people behind Hitler's monstrous activities.

From there, the five men had various filmmaking duties, some were embedded with soldiers and some were forced to make propaganda for the war department, many of which glossed over the facts of the war, including the effect on the men involved. What came back was thrilling, yet horrifying footage of battles, and eventually the record of what Hitler's regime did to the region. The first footage of the concentration camps, which were being liberated at the end of the war, came from this service.

Five Came Back tells the story of these five men over three, hour-long episodes, and I think that might have been a tad too long. Each could have been trimmed a bit, but it definitely still has an impact. These men were not fighting battles, but they were in the midst, some were shot at, and one was even shot. All to document what the American public needed to know, though they did have to fight with the government to get things the way they should be. They weren't perfect, as racism for the Japanese people cropped up in some of their work. But they were important because it would be the footage that defined the war, and they unearthed some atrocities that needed to be seen by the world.

Five Came Back is adapted from the book by Mark Harris, who also wrote the episodes here. Director Laurent Bouzereau interviews directors today like Steven Spielberg (Bridge of Spies), Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips) and Guillermo Del Toro (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) to get their perspective on how these men shaped their lives both for the work they did during the war, and outside of it. If you are not interested in film history or World War II, you might find this a bit of a slog, but if you are there are plenty of moments that really resonate.

All three episodes of Five Came Back is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: ***

No comments:

Post a Comment