“The Airbenders”, the new, slightly outdated series from the Spielberg-Hanks tandem

masters of the air either The air benders in French is the new iconic Apple TV miniseries. The first two episodes will be available starting January 26. The next eight will be distilled weekly. Since we cannot comment on more than the first two episodes, a limitation imposed by Apple TV, we contextualize the series here in relation to its source.

After the paratroopers of the 101st Airborne in comrades in arms (Brothers band, 2001) and the Marines of the 1st Division in peaceful hell (The Pacific, 2010), places the B-17 bomber crews of the 8th Air Force who led the attacks on Hitler’s “Fortress Europe” long before the first Allied soldier set foot on the continent.

“Masters of the Air”: What you need to know about the new series produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks

The bloody number 100

Like the previous two series, The air benders It is inspired by stories of veterans and more precisely by the book of the same name by historian Donald L. Miller (republished by Michel Lafon Poche, 2023). The spectrum of this researched, rigorous and fascinating sum is much broader than that of the series. In short, we have the feeling that the scriptwriters limited themselves to the prologue of Miller’s book, dedicated to the 100th bomber group (BG) based at the English airfield of Thorpe-Abbotts.

The group was nicknamed the Bloody 100th due to their high casualty rate. In October 1943, its crews were still far from mastering the air. The German Luftwaffe and Flak (anti-aircraft defense) are bleeding him dry. Less than one in four men completes their rotation of twenty-five combat missions. His heroism, in the face of a high probability of death, is the backstory of the series.

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In the foreword to his book, Donald L. Miller introduces four iconic figures from the Bloody 100th. Major Johnny Egan (Callum Turner), commander of the 418th Squadron of the 100th Bomb Group (BG) who nevertheless wants to fly with his crews in the face of danger. His best friend was Gale “Buck” W. Cleven. Austin Butler (Baz Luhrman’s Elvis) ideally embodies this retro “American boy” down to the tip of the stick, with his cap tipped to one side: a walking Hollywood cliché, but authentic nonetheless.

Navigator Harry H. Crosby’s (Anthony Boyle) seasickness is equally authentic. Crosby’s trip will be unexpected. Robert “Rosie” Rosenthal (Nate Mann) is the fourth “hero” of the series. Arriving in the fall of 1943 at the Thorpe-Abbotts base, to compensate for the losses, he does not appear in the first two episodes, but let’s clarify what Donald Miller reports: this Jew from Brooklyn, he had read my fight. Your weapon feats within 100 will be unique.

Spectacular reconstructions

The series portrays the centenary celebration with spectacular reconstructions of the chaos of the air battles. True to the bias of comrades in arms and Pacific Hell, The air benders is limited to the American point of view, where Donald L. Miller offers counterpoints.

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The staging and reconstructions that were innovative at the time comrades in arms (or of We have to save Private Ryan.their cinematographic model), always high-flying, are a bit on autopilot.

In 2024, America’s self-righteous heroism pill seems a bit quaint. And, in times of bombings in Ukraine or Gaza, a series about bomber crews that ignores the issue of bombings against civilians seems to miss its goal. We can only recommend reading the original work that better clarifies the problems, dilemmas and consequences, while paying tribute to the “Greatest Generation.”

“The Masters of the Air” , created by John Shiban and John Orloff. Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga, Dee Rees… With Austin Butler, Callum Turner, Anthony Boyle, Nate Mann… AppleTV

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