The book 5 Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War was written by journalist Mark Harris in 2014, and it served as the basis for the documentary Five Came Back, which was produced in the United States.
On March 31, 2017, it was made available as a standalone documentary in New York and Los Angeles, as well as a part of a series consisting of three parts on Netflix.
The documentary focuses on five directors: John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens. Their war-related works are analyzed by contemporary filmmakers: Paul Greengrass, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, and Guillermo del Toro, respectively. George Stevens is also featured in the documentary.
Meryl Streep, who plays the role of the narrator, was awarded the trophy for Outstanding Narrator at the Primetime Emmys because of her performance.
On February 9, 2021, all of the featured propaganda films were added to a new series on Netflix called Five Came Back: The Reference Films.
5 Came Back Synopsis
The documentary titled Five Came Back examines the experiences of five American film filmmakers who served on the frontlines during World War II. These directors are John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens.
Meryl Streep provides the narration, and the film utilizes more than one hundred hours’ worth of archival video.
Source: Rotten Tomatoes
Each contemporary director, starting with Steven Spielberg as Wyler and moving on to Francis Ford Coppola as Huston, Guillermo del Toro as Capra, Paul Greengrass as Ford, and Lawrence Kasdan, explores the influence and legacy of one of the five directors who came before them (Stevens).
Who Produced 5 Came Back?
The movie was adapted from Mark Harris’s book of the same name, which was published in 2014.
The filmmakers looked at over 100 hours of newsreel and archival video, as well as over 40 documentaries and training films that were made during the war by the five directors. In addition to that, they watched almost 30 hours of raw footage from the filmmakers’ war pictures as well as fifty films produced in the studio.
Director Laurent Bouzereau, who has significant expertise in documenting films and directors, was the one who suggested doing interviews with five active directors as part of the project.
On January 17, 2017, Meryl Streep received the news that she had been nominated for an Oscar for the 20th time. That same day, she also recorded the narration for the documentary (Florence Foster Jenkins).
5 Came Back Received Strong Criticism
The film Five Came Back has, for the most part, been met with praise from reviewers. On the basis of 37 reviews that have been aggregated, it has received a rating of 97% approval on Rotten Tomatoes.
Rolling Stone contributor Peter Travers awarded the series 3.5 out of a possible four stars and wrote that it is “Arguably the best documentary ever done about Hollywood and wartime.” He went on to say that the series is “nirvana for movie buffs and a tremendous eye-opener for anyone fresh to the subject.”
David Sims, a contributor to The Atlantic, lauded the series for its continued applicability and suggested that it could have been expanded: “The book written by Harris acknowledged the fact that Hollywood often influences our perception of reality more than we are aware of, and that the recruitment of these directors by the United States military entangled the film industry with sometimes risky assumptions of truth and realism.
In the end, Five Came Back is a powerful analysis of propaganda, including its purpose, its effectiveness, and the downsides that come along with it. In the year 2017, it is important to bear in mind all of these things, just as it was important to do so many decades ago.”
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