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Netflix Documentary Series ‘Five Came Back’ Traces the Role of Hollywood in WWII

Netflix’s new three-part documentary series

Five Came Back

examines the role of five legendary filmmakers–J

ohn Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens–who went to the frontlines of World War II to document the experiences of the war for the American people. Directed by Laurent Bouzereau, the series features interviews with Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Guillermo Del Toro, Paul Greengrass and Lawrence Kasdan and is narrated by Meryl Streep.

Tracing the ways patriotism and industry existed side by side, and the role Hollywood played in mobilizing and shaping the consciousness of a divided America, Bouzereau and his team gathered over 100 hours of archival and newsreel footage; watched over 40 documentaries and training films directed and produced by the five directors during the war; and studied 50 studio films and over 30 hours of outtakes and raw footage from their war films.

“It’s the hardest thing to convey to young, contemporary audiences – even if you understand it intellectually, you don’t understand viscerally that you had to wait a really, really long time for news,” says writer Mark Harris. “We’re in a context now where we have five different ways of knowing what is making news this morning. But you’re truly in another universe when you’re talking about the 1940s. There were newspapers and radio, but visually, the movies were the only way people could see the war.”

In conjunction with the launch of

Five Came Back

, Netflix will also present 13 documentaries discussed in the series, including Ford’s

The Battle of Midway

, Wyler’s

The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress

, Huston’s

Report from the Aleutians

, Capra’s

The Battle of Russia

, Stevens’

Nazi Concentration Camps

, and Stuart Heisler’s

The Negro Soldier


Five Came Back

premieres on March 31st on Netflix. Watch the trailer below.