Film­mak­ers on a war foot­ing

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Pay Television - Five Came Back,

A ter­rific three-part doc­u­men­tary has just ar­rived on Net­flix that looks at the role of Amer­ica’s wartime film­mak­ers. Based on the book by Mark Har­ris ti­tled Five Came Back: A Story of Hol­ly­wood and the Sec­ond World War, it looks at the ex­pe­ri­ences and am­bi­tions of di­rec­tors John Ford, Wil­liam Wyler, John Hus­ton, Frank Capra, and Ge­orge Stevens.

“Both the book and the mak­ing of the doc­u­men­tary were like one long jour­ney to re­ally try to un­der­stand who th­ese five were as men,” says Har­ris.

“I al­ways felt I had a good han­dle on who they were as film­mak­ers, but to get to know them, to try and un­der­stand their per­sonal fu­ries and frus­tra­tions and am­bi­tions and dis­ap­point­ments — that was, from the very be­gin­ning, what I had most wanted to do.

“Early on, we seized on the idea that we could have one [con­tem­po­rary] di­rec­tor serve as sort of The Bat­tle of Mid­way a sur­ro­gate sto­ry­teller for each World War II film­maker,” he says.

Ac­cord­ingly Steven Spiel­berg dis­cusses Wyler; Fran­cis Ford Cop­pola delves into Hus­ton’s ex­pe­ri­ence; Lawrence Kas­dan ( Star Wars) dis­cusses Stevens; Paul Green­grass (Jason Bourne fran­chise) ad­dresses Ford; and Guillermo del Toro ( Pan’s Labyrinth, Pa­cific Rim) takes on Capra. The se­ries is nar­rated by Meryl Streep.

In ad­di­tion, Net­flix will fea­ture 13 re­lated doc­u­men­taries, in­clud­ing Ford’s The Bat­tle of Mid­way, Wyler’s The Mem­phis Belle: A Story of a Fly­ing Fortress, Hus­ton’s Re­port from the Aleu­tians, Capra’s The Bat­tle of Rus­sia, and Stu­art Heisler’s The Ne­gro Sol­dier.

One sus­pects there will be a cer­tain amount of “it was the di­rec­tors wot won it”. But it prom­ises to be rivet­ing view­ing all the same. stream­ing on Net­flix.

US film­maker John Ford, who de­picted the Pa­cific war in in 1942

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