Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Pacific

Dir; Jeremy Podeswa, Timothy Van Patten, David Nutter, Graham Yost, Carl Franklin & Tony To

The long awaited sequel to 'Band of Brothers', reached my attention a few months ago when I came across some one on a forum raving about how good it was. I'd known a sequel was underway, since it had been talked about for eight or nine years, and I knew it was set in the Pacific theatre and featured the exploits of a group of US Marines in that conflict. I was surprised that the series had been launched with so little fanfare as to have been completely broadcast without my having heard a word of it.

So, naturally, I went looking for it and subsequently found it.

The first thing that struck me as I watched it, was just how spartan it appeared. I got the distinct impression that the series was made with an eye to competing with 'Band of Brothers', whilst offering something very different, so instead of a sense of camaraderie despite the odds, I was met with a bleak austerity of vision that left the Marines emotionally bruised. Raw. Where as 'Band of Brothers' had a rich depth of detail, 'The Pacific' seemed to deal in stark contrasts. Even the opening sequence with a juxtaposition of the characters and a close up of some one drawing with charcoal gave the impression of hard men splintering into fragments.

'Band of Brothers' had set the bar very high and I didn't feel that 'The Pacific' met the same high standard. There were too many times in the series where I felt the actors were copying the actors in 'Band of Brothers', trying to recreate the 'young naive Americans meeting the hard reality of war' ambiance that had been so well established by Damien Lewis and his colleagues. I simply wasn't convinced that I was seeing the 1940's. Several times during the series I was disappointed by the feeling that I was just watching actors. I couldn't suspend my disbelief because what I was seeing seemed automatic. As if the actors were merely going through the motions.

On the plus side, the strenuous reality of the conflict and the toll it exacted on the Marines, was well told. Not every battle was described and some conflicts seemed to carry a lot more weight for the marines involved than for the greater conflict raging around them. There was little or no pandering to modern sensibilities and the Marines contemporary disregard for the Japanese was not glossed over. I liked this because I think historical ambiance is anchored as much in contemporary attitudes as in contemporary aesthetics and it seems to me that recreating how people once thought and talked is far more challenging that merely acting in a funny costume.


Grimsby Mariner said...

I thought "Pacific" looked great but lacked the emotional ties that bound you to "Brothers". This was more to the disjointed story telling rather than the characters and for me I never became attached to any of them - until the last episode and how they were treated after the war.
I did think the way the actual battles were fought was very well done and conveyed the confusion and closeness of island fighting. There again what else did we expect?
Having said all that you still have to have admiration for the guys that were there.

moif said...

I wonder if they'd ever do a third series and if so, where would they set it? I could imagine a series about the 8th Airforce to represent the flyers, and possibly something about the navy too, maybe Kennedy in his MBT...?

What I'd really like to see is a similar high quality production telling the story of a British, or Comonwealth unit

Palle "Nybyggeren" said...

Little chance of Hollywood doing a Brit/CW depiction, but it would be nice; as would a German, Italian or Jap one showing how their grunts felt. "Not so different" as TV-tropes call it when you find that you resemble the enemy you have considered the pinnacle of evil. Despite my fetisch for germans of WW II, especially those hardcore units of W-SS and Heer that did the impossible again and again, I would probably prefer to see either one depicting a normal Heer unit showing that they were not so different, or one of the Brits or Italians as their participation always gets ignored.

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moif said...

Theres no reason why the British couldn't do something realistic, something along the same lines of 'Band of Brothers', and they could probably do it for a fraction of the cost.