Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"THE PACIFIC" (2010) - Episode One "Guadalcanal I" Commentary

"THE PACIFIC" (2010) - Episode One "Guadalcanal I" COMMENTARY

March 2010 marked the premiere of the 10-part miniseries, "THE PACIFIC"; which was produced by Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Gary Goetzman. The miniseries focused upon the lives and experiences of three U.S. Marines who fought in the Pacific Theater - writer Robert Leckie (James Badge Dale), war hero John Basilone (Jon Seda) and professor/writer Eugene Sledge (Joseph Mazello).

This first episode featured the three men's reactions to the attack upon Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Basilone was already a one-year veteran of the Marines during this period, when he bid good-bye to his family. Leckie joined the Marines about a month after the Hawaii attack and formed a friendship with a local girl named Vera before saying good-bye to his father. And Sledge was forced to realize that his heart murmur will prevent him from joining the Marines with his friend and neighbor, Sid Phillips (Ashton Holmes). Not long after this opening, both Leckie and Basilone found themselves being shipped out to deal with the Japanese threat on Guadalcanal. Most of the episode focuses upon Leckie and Phillips' early experiences on Guadalcanal. By the end of the episode, Basilone and the 7th Marines regiment had arrived.

If there is one thing I can say, "THE PACIFIC" was definitely different from 2001's "BAND OF BROTHERS". But I guess I expected it to be. One thing, this episode made it clear that scenes featuring the three characters' experiences on the home front and amongst other civilians would be featured. The scene between Leckie and his father at the bus depot was very interesting - especially with the writer dealing with his father's reluctance to say good-bye. And it was interesting to watch Sledge deal with his frustration at being unable to join up, due to a heart murmur. I found myself wondering if he had any idea what he would experience during the war's later years, would he feel so frustrated.

The main difference between "THE PACIFIC" and "BAND OF BROTHERS" was that the latter mainly recount the experiences of an Army company, with an officer as the series' main character. "THE PACIFIC" was presented in a way that was similar to the 2000 movie, "TRAFFIC" or the 2005 movie, "CRASH" . . . in which the same topic was presented from different perspectives. "THE PACIFIC" presented the viewpoints of three men who DID NOT serve in combat together. And yet, there were connections between them. Leckie had served in the same Marine company as Sledge's best friend, Phillips.  Both Leckie and Basilone fought on Guadalcanal and had a brief encounter with one another at the end of Episode One. Two future episodes featured both Leckie and Sledge fighting in another campaign together - Peleliu. Although there were complaints, I was happy to note that some viewers understood and managed to accept the fact that "THE PACIFIC" possessed a different style of storytelling than "BAND OF BROTHERS".

I would also like to add that I found the combat action featured in this episode very amazing, especially the Battle of the Tenaru. And I found the jungle setting rather lush. The birthday tune that Leckie and his Marines friends sang to Phillips was not only funny, but held an ominous aura as well. Well done. Very well done.

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