Five Came Back is an American documentary based on the 2014 book Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War by journalist Mark Harris.
It was released as a stand-alone documentary in New York and Los Angeles, and as a three-part series on Netflix, on 31 March 2017.
The documentary focuses on five directors – John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens – whose war-related works are analysed by modern filmmakers, respectively Paul Greengrass, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Guillermo del Toro, and Lawrence Kasdan. Meryl Streep, who serves as narrator, won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Narrator for her performance.
Five Came Back explores the experiences of five US film directors – John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens – and their frontline work during the Second World War.
It draws on over 100 hours of archival footage and is narrated by Meryl Streep.
Each modern director discusses the impact and legacies of one of the five earlier directors:
- Steven Spielberg (Wyler);
- Francis Ford Coppola (Huston);
- Guillermo del Toro (Capra);
- Paul Greengrass (Ford); and
- Lawrence Kasdan (Stevens).
- The film was based on the 2014 book of the same name by Mark Harris.
- The filmmakers studied more than 100 hours of newsreel and archival footage, and more than 40 documentaries and training films created by the five directors during the war.
- They also reviewed 50 studio films by the directors and more than 30 hours of raw footage from their war films.
- Director Laurent Bouzereau, who has extensive experience documenting films and directors, introduced the idea of interviewing five current directors for the project.
- Meryl Streep recorded the narration for the documentary on 17 January 2017, the same day she received her 20th Oscar nomination (for Florence Foster Jenkins).
Five Came Back Series
- Episode 01: The Mission Begins.
- Episode 02: Combat Zones.
- Episode 03: The Price of Victory.
Netflix is also streaming the 13 documentaries discussed in the film:
- The Battle of Midway (1942, John Ford).
- Prelude to War (1942, Frank Capra).
- The Battle of Russia (1943, Frank Capra).
- Undercover: How to Operate Behind Enemy Lines (1943, John Ford).
- Report from the Aleutians (1943, John Huston).
- The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress (1944, William Wyler).
- The Negro Soldier (1944, Stuart Heisler; produced by Frank Capra).
- Tunisian Victory (1944, John Huston).
- Know Your Enemy: Japan (1945, Frank Capra).
- The Battle of San Pietro (1945, John Huston).
- Nazi Concentration Camps (1945, George Stevens).
- Let There Be Light (1946, John Huston).
- Thunderbolt (1947, William Wyler).
Production & Filming Details
- Narrator(s): Meryl Streep.
- Director(s): Laurent Bouzereau.
- Producer(s): Steven Spielberg, Scott Rudin, Barry Diller, Angus Wall, Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank, Eli Bush, Jason Sack, Linda Carlson, Jason Sterman, Ben Cotner, Adam Del Deo, Lisa Nishimura, Laurent Bouzereau, and John Battsek.
- Writer(s): Mark Harris.
- Music: Thomas Newman.
- Editor(s): Will Znidaric.
- Production: Amblin Television, IACF Productions, Passion Pictures, and Rock Paper Scissors Entertainment.
- Distributor(s): Netflix.
- Release Date: 31 March 2017.
- Running Time: 59-69 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.
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