Monday, June 26, 2017

The Pacific: the HBO miniseries...a mini-review

Yes, I realize that I'm a little late to this party. The HBO miniseries The Pacific was released in 2010, and I've only recently gotten around to watching it. That was my mistake...but better late than never.

Although presented as a purely dramatic work, The Pacific is actually more of a docudrama, in that it follows the stories of real Americans who experienced the U.S. war against the Japanese.

The level of violence in many of the combat scenes will be difficult for some viewers to handle. The violence is, however, not of the gratuitous kind that we so often see in movies nowadays, but a realistic depiction of what combat on Iwo Jima, Peleliu, and Okinawa was really like. Be forewarned, though: the battle scenes are intense and graphic, and will not be suitable for everyone. 

The Pacific seems to be mostly based on the wartime diaries of Eugene Sledge. A native of Mobile, Alabama, Sledge served in the Pacific, and later became a professor of biology. He compiled and edited his diaries into a book, With the Old Breed: at Peleliu and Okinawa, which you can still purchase on Amazon.

At the end of the last disc, there is a nice little segment that gives brief summaries of the postwar lives of the major characters. Most of these marines went on to some form of success after the war. Almost all of them had passed away by the time The Pacific aired. The majority of them died between the late 1990s and 2005.

As the World War II generation passes into history, it is worth reflecting that we have not only lost a great generation, but also a vast number of personal stories from which we might gain lessons and inspiration. The American marines who served in the Pacific took the concept of "tough" to an entirely new level. I cannot imagine myself enduring what these men endured. I'm in complete and unabashed awe of them. The were heroes in the truest sense of that word.

The Pacific captures a handful of these personal stories in vivid detail, with superb writing, choreography, and acting. This is television that is well worth your time.

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