Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg have
teamed up again in Band of Brothers to bolster their vision
of America's Greatest Generation - and this time they're
shooting for even more than Saving Private Ryan.
There's a spectacular illogic surrounding the wave of World War II
mania that's cresting across the American landscape. Something
about it doesn't make sense. Aren't Americans supposed to be
notoriously disinterested in history? Doesn't Jay Leno still get
laughs with his ongoing "Jaywalking" schtick, outing passersby on
the street who demonstrate with appalling consistency that most of
this nation couldn't pass a third-grade history exam? So, how come
turn-of-the-century America is now searching for its identity in
countless tributes to its graying veterans, in books like Tom
Brokaw's The Greatest Generation and films like Pearl Harbor?
"I don't know the answer to that," says Tom Hanks, shrugging,
proving that even the fashion's most noteworthy progenitor has
difficulty processing the notion that the American public (which
long ago became his public) has become wildly passionate about
something so unsexy, so unHollywood, as history. "I wonder
sometimes, are people really caring about all this?"
Of course they're caring, and Hanks knows it - he can always check
the box-office receipts if he forgets - which is why, even during
the filming of the touchstone Saving Private Ryan, he began laying
plans for an even larger epic, one that would surpass the D-Day
saga that's come to define WWII films.