OK, this is actually a three-for-one multimedia extravaganzapalooza: a radio interview about a documentary series based on a book about filmmakers. It doesn’t get much more layered than that.
I’m sending you to Terry Gross to start your exploration of Five Came Back, because that’s how I came to know about it.
Here’s Terry Gross’s Fresh Air interview with Mark Harris, the author of the book, Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War.
The book has just emerged as a new three-part documentary on Netflix. (The trailer is up top.) Terry Gross’s interview with Mark Harris piqued my curiosity completely about this documentary series, in which five modern-day directors discuss the five film directors who spent World War II making films about the war as it happened.
What a list:
- Francis Ford Coppola on John Huston
- Lawrence Kasdan on George Stevens
- Spielberg (the co-producer of the documentary) on William Wyler
- Paul Greengrass on John Ford
- Guillermo del Toro on Frank Capra
This is all so fascinating—these directors were already famous when they went off to war. During their tenure on the battlefield, they created documentary films, recruitment films—and even evidence, in the case of George Stevens, who had the stunning poise, presence of mind, and ability to document the liberation of Dachau. He filmed evidence that would later be used to prosecute war crimes.
War is in the air, always. How we learn about it today is so different from seventy years ago. I can’t wait to watch this. Have you seen it yet?