The Pacific by John Cole| March 14, 20107:55 pm| 69 CommentsThis post is in: MoviesFacebookTweetEmailSome of us have been waiting for this show for quite a while.
Just Some Fuckhead
Watching Win It in a Minute. It’s like a freakshow gameshow for people who don’t know stuff. That’s an hour I’ll never get back.
I hope it lives up to Band of Brothers. Will record the first episode tonight and probably watch it later. Don’t feel up to it right now.
And I got sucked into watching Revenge of the Sith on Spike. Man, that movie sucks. Nothing but talk, talk, talk interspersed with wallpaper pictures of science-fiction landscapes. Ugh. But it’s like a car wreck–I can’t turn away.
BTW, Cole: fix the time stamp on your server!
And by “quite awhile”, you would mean 65 years?
I agree, it looks promising: http://www.hbo.com/the-pacific/index.html
I’m not sure how much “new” there is likely to be in yet another story out of the Pacific War, but it’s good that they are getting around to it while there are still some people alive when it happened.*
* Personal note: On a certain day not long ago, I spent the night at the bedside of a Pearl Harbor survivor, and then assisted a man at breakfast who turned out to be another. An interesting 24 hours, to say the least.
@Dr. Psycho: Living a mile-and-a-half north of the Arizona Memorial as I do, we see a lot of those guys here. They’re interviewed on the pertinent holidays, and they’re always impressive.
Recording it to the dvr. I have high hopes for it. Watching Dinoshark for the laughs.
I have been waiting for this. My grandfather served on a PT boat in the New Hebrides.
God bless those men and women who truly saved the world.
Mike in NC
Eugene Sledge’s “With the Old Breed ” is widely considered to be one of the best WW2 memoirs written by a common soldier. We don’t have HBO but are tempted to get a temporary subscription.
Yup, should be a great series. Advance word is it’s more intense than “Band of Brothers.”
My old man fought in the Pacific but, “lucky” for him, from a carrier. The island fighting was relentlessly nasty business; those on ship at least had breaks from the brutality.
Have a hi-def teevee on order so I hope to catch the latter part of the series in all its gory, detailed splendor.
Makes me sorry not to have HBO. I’ll have to wait, but I expect it will be worth the wait from all I’ve heard.
I had an uncle who was an Arizona survivor. He died a few years ago. Wish I had known him better, as I expect he would have had some remarkable stories to relate.
My father served on the USS South Dakota in the Pacific, saw a lot of action. From Wikipedia:
He wasn’t in a glamorous spot. His action station was deep in the bowels of the ship. Must have been scary down there.
After Empire, it’s my second favorite of the saga. Love love love Anakin’s fall.
My father was on the Nevada. The first time he really spoke about it to me was when I came home after seeing Tora, Tora, Tora. My brother still has the flag and the telegrams from that day.
I don’t have HBO but will watch the series when it is on dvd.
Nancy Franklin wasn’t too keen on it.
Gordon, The Big Express Engine
I sat next to this guy on a recent flight to Tulsa. That was a really interesting 70 minutes…
HBO really is the best channel on tv. If I could only have 1 channel, HBO would be it.
Gordon, The Big Express Engine
@Daniel: I read that and got a little bummed because I loved BoBs.
I can only hope it is as good as Band of Brothers. And I hope it is nothing like the thin red line.
Just read her piece, and, without having seen the series, I can see her point. E.B. Sledge’s memoir, With the Old Breed–a source document for the series–is one of the most harrowing war books I have ever read, and there is not a lot that is uplifting about the island war in the Pacific: no masses of friendly civilians being liberated, no parades down the Champs-Élysées, etc. I can see the producers trying to interject a little uplift, and I can see that being perilous to the truth of the story. But I look forward to watching the series.
What bugged you about The Thin Red Line? I thought it was a little “poetic” in places, but it wasn’t trying to be gritty realism. I haven’t seen it since it first came out, but I thought it was pretty good.
@Mike in NC: Written from the reporter’s perspective, Richard Tregaskis’s Guadalcanal Diary is another good book about the Pacific War.
I lived on Guam in the late 1960s; if you once got off the beaten track or paved road there it wasn’t too difficult to imagine yourself in some poor GI or Japanese soldier’s shoes in that jungle.
I lived on Okinawa in the late ’60s, and they were still finding unexploded ordnance then. And occasionally when we were out snorkeling we would come across some war wreckage–pieces of an LST or a plane or something.
@Linkmeister: Of course one of the great WWII memoirs was written by one of the great American authors who was in the Pacific. Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead.
@Steeplejack: It was long and rambling. The movie had so many characters and it would change narrators so often that it was impossible to tell who was talking. It just seemed like a project that didn’t really tell a story, rather it just got lost in an event.
Absolutely. More intense because, as you say, the Pacific was relentlessly nasty.
My “Second-Greatest Generation” cred may be seen here & here.
Wish I had HBO.
The Naked and the Dead is a novel, not a memoir.
Mike in NC
Visited Diego Garcia back in the late 80s with some other reservists. Remote atoll with actual patches of thick jungle. After trying to explore it a little bit, one of the sailors in the group exclaimed, “Can you imagine fighting in this shit?!”
Watching “Das Boot”. Again.
Long version? You should get a service ribbon for that. Awesome movie, though, in either version.
Long version? You should get a service ribbon for that. Awesome movie, though, in either version.
Oh, I am fucking coming for you Steeple. You are going to pay for this blasphemy.
@Steeplejack: You are correct. Mea culpa. It was largely based on his experiences, but was most certainly not a memoir.
I’ll be buying this as soon as it’s released on disc. I wrote a series of posts for Armistice Day 11/11, and focused a bit on E.B. Sledge. His book With the Old Breed was one of the two they used as a launching point for the series.
And I agree, Das Boot is great, both versions.
My Dad enlisted in the Marines at 17 in 1942. He was in combat in all of these islands except Guadalcanal. After the surrender of Japan, he served a few months in China.
When I was 17 I wanted to join the Marines. He would not sign the permission slip. I joined the Navy instead.
This is not a pretty story. Warfare at its most basic, brutal level.
Just check out the amount of dead vs prisoners taken on both sides.
Yes. I tried a couple times but all the little intense parts just got lost in a big, rambling mess. Had some awesome acting but nobody bothered to piece it together.
I thought it was pretty good. A little hokey at first (kind of has to be). It did a good job of making subtle distinctions from the European theater.
The previews for the rest of the episodes look awesome.
It is my absolute favorite of the series. The rest can be a little meh but Sith delivered.
Some of the dialogue was hallmark-edly bad, but goodness. Sith rocked.
Anakin Skywalker: You turned her against me!
Obi-Wan Kenobi: You have done that yourself.
Anakin Skywalker: You will not take her from me!
Obi-Wan Kenobi: Your anger and lust for power have already done that.
I never saw The Thin Red Line, because I was happy enough with the book. Didn’t need techicolor blood to improve that.
By the way, Band of Brothers was a big hit in Japan.
@Gordon, The Big Express Engine:
I think you may have meant to post this to another thread a couple down from here, but never mind — what a very cool experience! Lucky you!
The Other Steve
@Steeplejack: The Thin Red Line is one of the worst films of the 20th century.
Let’s see how far we can get into the series before it mentions Australian troops or the RAN, or Australia at all.
In BoB I think you got to about the 4th episode before you realised that British troops were also involved in the war.
I’m all for a celebration of all things American, but there were some allies involved as well.
Thought it was terrific. It flew by, didn’t it? Loved that version of “Happy Birthday” at the end.
Sledge fought at Peleliu and Okinawa. Two of the worst battles of the entire war. 200 of 10,000 Japanese survived Peleliu where they fought out of natural coral caves and concrete reinforced positions. The Marines burned and bombed them out one by one. A battle expected to take days dragged on for more than 3 months. Battle fatigue was epidemic, and these were Marines who had been there, done that. Some Japanese finally surrendered on Peleliu in 1947.
Acknowledged throughout the services as FUBAR from planning to ending. Not worth the cost, and the combat soldier got it in the neck, as always.
Knowing Hanks and Spielbergs past performances, be prepared, it will be intense. Eugene Sledge’s ” With the Old Breed” would be an excellent preview for this series. I’ve read dozens of WW 2 histories and this is by far the most visceral and immeadiate. Read it years ago and have never forgotten it.
The Other Steve
I so want to see Pacific, but have no HBO. I’ll wait for it to come out on Netflix.
Balloon Juice NCAA tourney pool is open for business on Yahoo. Don’t forget the “seed bonuses” when you make your picks. You’ll need the group ID# in the group label below.
I know they try to be as authentic as possible there might have been a mistake. I’m going to have to do some research.
It looked like the main characters exited onto Guadalcanal in a Higgins boat. I’m pretty sure the main boat for the landing was a different type of landing craft. Guadalcanal demonstrated the weakness of that type and every landing there-after was made with more and more Higgins boats.
Great first episode.
@lee: I seem to remember Higgins boats being mentioned in Guadalcanal Diary. Admittedly, it’s been years since I read the book.
Mike in NC
Have yet to see the show, but at the time of Guadalcanal the most common landing craft was the LCPL, which lacked the bow ramp. Marines had to jump over the side of the boat. The LCPL was later replaced by the LCPR and then the LCVP. All of them were produced by Higgins in New Orleans and by other manufacturers.
I spent a few years in a reserve unit in Baltimore that operated LCM-8s. Fun stuff. We played in a huge D-Day reenactment at Fort Story, VA in June 1994.
It was good. It feels a lot more arty than BofB. It’s like a mash-up of Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line.
OT, but movie related:
Peter Graves dead of a heart attack.
The Other Steve
@OriGuy: Clearly this is the fault of President Rahm.
Mike in NC
Too bad. He was wonderful in everything from ‘Stalag 17’ to ‘Mission Impossible’ to ‘Airplane’. RIP.
If you are looking for a good WW II move, you should check out Stalingrad.
For what it’s worth – having already seen the whole series because I got a screener copy from HBO – it’s more cerebral and less celebratory than Band of Brothers was. Possibly because it’s about the war against Japan, which was more miserable and depressing than the war against Germany in myriad ways, so the producers decided a less “hero soldiers being heroes” vibe would be appropriate.
If BoB was HBO’s Saving Private Ryan series, this is its Thin Red Line. Or not, because it’s not trying to be arty in a self-conscious way. But it’s good; arguably better than BoB was, although the former has more charm.
I was going to mention Thin Red Line–it does resemble it more than Band of Brothers, and not just because both were set in the Pacific theater.
The first episode was much, much quieter than Band of Brothers ever was. A little more ponderous and a little more human, too. Band of Brothers, except for a few episodes, was a cheerleader for larger than life characters. This felt smaller and more tightly focused. At the end of this ep, we still don’t know too much about our characters. In BoB, even though the first ep was training related, we pretty much got the characters from the beginning.
It seems like it’s going to be significantly different from BoB, and that should be a good thing. BoB went over a lot of familiar territory in terms of character, plot, themes, etc.
Anyway, I liked it, but we’ll see where it goes.
And for what it’s worth, Thin Red Line is vastly superior to Saving Private Ryan.
I am generally not a fan of Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation” wankery — I think we all, of any generation, tend to rise to what is asked of us. But it is true that the mean and women who came of age around World War II were asked to rise to greater heights than any other generation in American history save the generation that fought for independence and the one that fought in the Civil War, and it is a call that they answered. Watching tonight’s episode was a harrowing experience, and I did so from the safety and comfort of my own sofa. I cannot conceive of what it must have been like to have experienced Guadalcanal or Bastogne.
First episode seemed to deal with the Battle of the Tenaru. Don’t know what part of Guadalcanal the 2nd episode will show. It looks amazing already.
And my grandfather also fought the Japanese in WWII, though as a General for China. His pocketwatch caught a Japanese bullet, and its replacement met the same fate. He was the last living delegate who witnessed the surrender of the Japanese on the U.S.S. Missouri, living to the age of 102 in 2003.
@BruinKid: I think it was actually covering the Battle of Savo Island, although they weren’t explicit about how much time passed after the sinking of the U.S. ships off the landing area, so perhaps it covered Tenaru as well.
@BruinKid: The Mighty Mo is right down the hill from me too, across the harbor from the Arizona Memorial. I toured it about 20 years ago before it got repositioned here from Washington State.
It just reopened on 1/30/10 after an $18M rehab.
I occasionally wonder just how many of its visitors really understand what that surrender document ceremony must have been like for Nimitz, MacArthur and the Japanese delegation (civilians, by the way; no military officers were included in the ceremony).
My wife recorded it and we’re going to watch it with my father-in-law, who served on the Watchapreague in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. It was a PT tender, and the boats it tended were the ones that first saw the Japanese fleet.
His shipmates watched the battlewagons firing at each other at night from miles away. He was asleep on the deck through the whole thing.
Aside: He says they all had to wear life jackets at battle stations, but they would have preferred parachutes, since a PT tender was stuffed full of avgas and torpedoes, and if hit in a battle…. you get the picture.
I served on a destroyer in the early 70’s, our workspace was down in the bowels of the ship. On my first cruse we heard about the Aussie carrier that cut the destroyer USS Evans in half 2 years before. 74 men died. My workspace (under the waterline) would have been the contact point. I never was shot at during my service but it took a long time to get over knowing that one mistake could get you literally run over by an aircraft carrier. I think I was right to be scared as 20+ years later I was hit by a truck. And that was bad enough without the drowning issues.
ETA My dad served on a sub tender in WWII in the pacific but he would never talk about his service time. I have no idea what he saw or what happened to him.
Oh look…another mini series by HBO on WW2. The fetishization of “the greatest generation” continues, fafapfap.
I’m more inclined to think WW2 was more like Inglorious Bastards that Saving Private Ryan.
Using planes to ram bombers sounds like a Tarantino/Michael Bay plot device.
In other news- “Win it in a Minute”- The New Gong Show. Nuff said.
My dad worked as Deputy Dir of security on the Mo and he and a few guys rebuilt the radio room. I got to take a tour behind the scenes of that big lady after he passed. His name is on the bench by the trolley waiting area.
My dad & his brothers all joined the Marines & fought in the Pacific. Different islands at different times. Growing up I knew each of them (except the youngest who ended up in the Navy as a pilot & was too late to see combat) was screwed up. Sad, angry, guys. I didn’t understand that at the time but I do now.
After my dad’s funeral I had a few drinks with the remaining ones & they started telling stories about the war I never heard before. On Peleliu one had to dig in for the night, on a ridge the Japanese had used to bury bodies, they dug through the bodies and shared the hole with them. On Okinawa one had his best friend splattered all over him.
I’m not sure I want to see any of this.
@Mike in NC: For post-WWII grit, Stalag 17, with Peter Graves, is a great movie. I grew up watching Victory at Sea and I think this new HBO series has a high standard to match. My dad was in the service, so sometimes my playmates would have just gotten transferred (i.e. their dads) back from the Pacific. They would tell tales of finding skulls still washing up on the beach in the ’50’s. Anyone know if his brother James (Gunsmoke) Arness is still alive?
It started out a little slow and has that trademark Spielberg feel to it but I think it will be quite good overall. I read Eugene Sledge’s memoir, “With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa” a while back and it was remarkable for its depiction of the horrors of everyday life amidst the 30 straight days of combat he was in.
As far as Guadalcanal depictions go, I am still a fan of Terrence Malick’s “The Thin Red Line”.
I was in my HMO doctor’s office one time, and an elderly gentleman next to me starts telling me (unprompted) how he was on a Japenese prisoner ship for 3 days on the way to the home island. Practically naked, packed like sardines standing up, insane heat closed up in near pitch black conditions, shitting and pissing themselves in place, no food or water, men passing out or dying or going crazy, other similar ships being torpedoed en route…and he started crying softly about all the torment and humiliation and the friends he lost.
I was quite moved that he chose to share this with me. You could clearly see how intently he felt abou his experiences and how burned into his consciousness they were. I thanked him for his sacrifice and gave him my number and said he could call anytime if he ever felt like talking about it some more. He never did. I’m not sure which doctor he had come to see because there were psychologists and physical therapists on that floor.
For what it’s worth, I’m glad he shared.
I had one uncle who went in on d-day +1, another who flew the hump, several aunts and one uncle who manned the home front. Also one uncle who went in on Tarawa, and my old man who just flew B-29’s out of the Mariana’s… almost got shot down several times (one crash landing on Iwo)
I have been waiting for this my entire life.
and by the by, Sledge’s book is the best by far.
Can be had here:
FWIW, I got the edition with the intro by Paul Fussell. I couldn’t stand getting the one with an intro from Victor Davis Hanson. That link looks like a new release coordinated with the miniseries.