Mini-series on Netflix brings history to life in new way
Netflix’s new series, “The Liberator”, may have been short-lived, but its impact on viewers has proven longer-lasting. The mini-series centers around a soldier’s 500-day experience in World War II. The series depicts the harsh realities that he and many other soldiers faced at the time. The show came out just in time for Veterans Day 2020, honoring the men who served during such a brutal war.
The mini-series is an adaptation of Alex Kershaw’s book “The Liberator,” which depicts the Thunderbirds in their fight against the Axis powers. The Thunderbirds, according to the Smithsonian Magazine, were “the U.S. Army’s 45th Infantry Division, one of the most racially integrated units of the era, [who] went into battle wearing on their shoulders the image of the Thunderbird.” The Thunderbirds have also been described as “a disparate collection of Native Americans, Mexican Americans and Southwestern cowboys.” They were led by Felix Sparks, the gritty company commander, who was able to ease the tension in his diverse group. After getting everyone on board to fight for, rather than against, each other, Sparks and his company take to the field amidst the tough conditions of WWII.
The main characters of the mini-series are Felix Sparks (Bradley James), Sergeant Samuel Coldfoot (Martin Sensmeier) and Corporal Abel Gomez (Jose Miguel Vasquez). Sparks serves as the show’s lead, as he was the commander for the platoon as well as one of the only American rooted soldiers in this diverse group. He is a fierce leader who recognizes the heart and pride his company has in their serving and protecting the U.S., even though they aren’t given the same opportunities as other citizens. Early on in the show, he is put in charge of J Company, which is revealed as the jail of the base. When he meets his men, they are busy fighting each other and giving their superiors a hard time due to the constant racism and slander they endure. Sparks is presented as the perfect leader, because everyone on J Company buys into his message, and the company quickly becomes the leading squad on the base.
Sergeant Coldfoot is the Native American leader of the group. He has been denied promotion so many times, but is finally given a chance by Sparks. He quickly shows why he should’ve been promoted by using his anger and sheer passion as the second leader of the crew.
Abel Gomez is the show’s funny guy, the glue that holds the team together, and is truly one of the most selfless fighters ever portrayed on screen. He is easily the fans’ favorite, because everytime he speaks it is either funny, truly relatable or inspiring. Though the show has many other heroes, these three are the ones that make J Company run.
What makes the show different from the rest of Hollywood war media we have seen before is how it is actually portrayed on the screen. The series is both live-action and computer animated, giving it the look of a comic book. Trioscope Studios was able to achieve this through a method called rotoscope animation. Trioscope’s CEO, L.C. Crawley, and its CCO,Brandon Barr, told Deadline they believe rotoscope animations is a step in the right direction for films and shows:““Trioscope can effectively produce in ways no other platform can . . . So often, dramatic material can’t get made because it’s too creatively ambitious or costly. This technology allows creators to imagine without limits – from contemporary to historic periods, and from fantasy to reality – and all on an achievable budget.” Not only does such animation save money, but it also allows viewers to enjoy a war show without extreme gore. Such a business move gives more flexibility to the budget and brings in more viewers, thanks to how different the animation looks when compared to others Netflix has to offer.
“The Liberator” received some love when it became available. It received a 7.5/10 from IMDB, a 6/10 from Rotten Tomatoes as well as 7.1 from Rotten Tomatoes audience, and was amongst the top 10 on Netflix U.S. on opening week. This show is an easy watch and tells the story of how such a diverse and often belittled platoon put hate aside to fight a common enemy. It was a gorgeous show to watch, and is an excellent nod to our combat heroes and veterans.
Authors: Danielle Mercado & Julian Alcaraz | A&E Editor & Staff Writer