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The Pacific Blu-ray/DVD

HBO

Dec 20, 2010 HBO Bookmark and Share


World War II veterans who fought in the Pacific theater finally get their time in the spotlight with HBO’s The Pacific. When Americans depict WWII in films, TV, or video games, we often gloss over the fact that thousands of soldiers died on the Pacific islands. We rush straight to Nazis, The Holocaust, D-Day, and Pearl Harbor. These pivotal events are at the forefront of our knowledge of The Greatest Generation.

Sadly U.S. teachers gloss over the other half of the war: Thousands of U.S. soldiers died fighting for our country on islands such as Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Peleliu, Okinawa, and Cape Gloucester. There were no unimportant battles. Fighting the Japanese back home proved to be a war not just between men, but with the elements. For starters, the hellish Pacific warzone was not Europe, the setting of Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg’s other popular HBO miniseries, Band of Brothers.

The Pacific‘s “forgotten men” (boys really) are real Marines, John Basilone (Jon Seda), Robert Leckie (James Badge Dale), and Eugene Sledge (Joseph Mazello), with the memoirs of the latter two serving as a large chunk of the source documents for the ten episodes. The warzones consist of the aforementioned Pacific islands, Australia, and the Japanese shores. These servicemen didn’t get the honor of liberating well-known European cities. Instead, they were hit with ceaseless bouts of dysentery, malaria, jungle rot, and mosquitoes. War is hell, but the Pacific was as close as you could get to Dante’s ninth and final circle.

Most of the series finds the characters in dirty jungle combat day and night. Production design, sound editing, and Hans Zimmer’s solemn and rousing score are top-knotch and make you realize that each of The Pacific‘s eight Emmy wins were well-deserved. The graphic nature of a jungle campaign is apparent from the outset, but the human drama out of the trenches is what keeps you caring for who dies and who lives. Death is tragic on both sides and the terrain is unforgiving for all parties. The fact that the Japanese never surrendered also exacerbated the trauma. All of actors are believeable, but one downside is that some of the supporting actors get lost in all the chaotic melees.

Even if you’re not a war film buff, The Pacific provides a nearly absolute source of entertainment and historical value. Sadly, the bonus disc’s three features are pretty minimal. The 45-minute mini-documentary “Profiles of the Pacific” easily bests “Making of ‘The Pacific’” and “Anatomy of ‘The Pacific War’.” “Profiles” essentially covers all of the main servicemen in the series and the archival interviews are priceless considering so many WWII vets have passed away. Similar to Band of Brothers, the discs are packaged in a foldout digipack, housed in a handsome embossed tin cases. It’s yet anther reason this miniseries is more labor of love than product. (www.hbo.com/the-pacific)

Author rating: 9/10

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