Dale Dye

Part 1 - Realistic Combat in Films

Interviewed by Almar Haflidason

Captain Dale Dye served in the Vietnam conflict, surviving 31 major combat operations. Highly decorated, including three Purple Hearts, he has been the military advisor on such movies as "Platoon", "Born on the Fourth of July", "Jacob's Ladder", "JFK", "Saving Private Ryan" and now the TV epic Band of Brothers.

Have films like "Saving Private Ryan" reached a pinnacle in terms of combat realism that movies can achieve?

I think that we raised the bar with "Saving Private Ryan", and again with this new series, Band of Brothers. I'm beginning to wonder - until they come up with smell-o-vision - how far we can go. But I tell you this: I'm going to keep pushing the envelope.

How do you reach the balance between sensationalistic gore versus realistic combat action?

It is a balancing act. If we take the example of the first 20 minutes of "Saving Private Ryan", I did slather on the gore but that was because Omaha Beach was a literal meat grinder. It was a man-killer. That's not revisionist at all. These things happened. We actually talked to the guy that picked up his arm and staggered across the beach. That's the real deal. I've been there, where the gore is slathered on whether you like it or not. If that's the way it was, good, that's the way we'll show it. If it wasn't we will not show it that way.

What would your review of "Saving Private Ryan" be?

I'm a kinda simplistic guy. I like stories that touch me and that appeal to my emotions. I believe sincerely that the reason that war stories keep getting made into films is because you can run the gamut of human emotions, and it may happen in only 15 minutes. I think we did that in "Ryan". I think that Spielberg intentionally and blatantly touched some emotional buttons. I don't mind that, and personally, I think that's good movie-making.

How does the TV series Band of Brothers differ as a project to "Saving Private Ryan"?

We did not make Band of Brothers in the normal television format. It's shot in 1.85:1 and you'll see a big scope, a big spectacle. That's really the key difference. With "Ryan", we had two-and-a-half-hours to compress a week-long mission including, of all things, D-Day. With Band of Brothers, we stay with an American unit for 10 and a half-hours. We get to know them, and characters merge and recede. Its scope is huge. It literally goes from the formation of the unit right to the end of the war.

Would you have liked a similar treatment for the unit in "Platoon"?

Boy, would I!" In fact I tried so hard into talking Oliver Stone into doing a sequel in which the surviving kids come home. I couldn't get him to do it.

Part 2 - "Stop Whining at Me!"

Part 3 - Confronting Demons in "Platoon"