If you haven’t seen HBOs incredible, Tom Hanks and Steve Spielberg-produced miniseries, Band of Brothers, then I want you to stop reading this right now and go out and buy it. It’s available on DVD, Blu-ray, and probably multiple other formats at this point. The good news is, this post will still be here when you get back. Okay, seen it? Good. First of all, it’s hard to believe it’s been 9 years since BoB came out. I first saw this on HBO, then on a ginormous VHS set, then on DVD, and I just received it for Christmas on Blu-ray, and I usually re-watch the thing every year, and I love it. Now, they’re heading to another theater of operations with a new 10 part miniseries about the war: Japan.
The Pacific follows the true story of three different marines: Robert Leckie, Eugene Sledge, and John Basilone as they receive training, fight in their first battles, as they get deeper into the conflict, and what happens when they return home after V-J Day. It’s not exactly the same experience of Band of Brothers, and it looks a lot grittier than that series. It doesn’t have the same background material that series did with Stephen Ambrose’s impressive books Band of Brothers and Citizen Soldier, but is instead based on Helmet for My Pillow, by Robert Leckie, and With the Old Breed, by Eugene B. Sledge, with additional material from Red Blood, Black Sand, by Chuck Tatum, and China Marine, by Eugene B. Sledge, as well as from John Basilone’s private letters.
When asked about the importance of Saving Private Ryan, Spielberg said “I had a sense in Saving Private Ryan that I was establishing a template based on the experiences of the veterans that were communicated to me, and the very few surviving photographs by the great wartime photographer Robert Capa. I combined those to make a 24 frames-per-second representation of terror and chaos. Although we’ve done the same with The Pacific, it does have a different “look” to it than Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers.” Hanks went on to explain that, “After that HBO blip at the beginning, this was our story to tell with our own pacing.” They began talking about this project in earnest when they both worked on The Terminal, so this has been six years in the making.
Actor Jon Seda who plays John Basilone said “We realized how important this was … to be the voice for so many men, the real heroes. We had to get this right.” They had Dr. Sidney Phillips, an actual WWII veteran from the Japanese theater, serving as an advisor on the show, and he said “You were trained and trained and trained endlessly, and the general idea was that ‘If every man does his job with his weapon, to the best of his ability, then everything will be all right.’ I think that concept generally proved to be true. When you finally get through boot camp, you’re prepared for the rest of your life.”
They showed us a series of scenes from the show, and it looks simply fantastic. If you enjoyed Band of Brothers, you’re going to love this one. If you need any extra convincing, that cute little redheaded kid Joseph Mazzello, who played Tim Murphy in Jurassic Park is all grown up, and he plays Eugene Sledge in the series.