Saturday, March 13, 2010

War Is Hell - And So Is The Pacific

War Is Hell - And So Is The Pacific

Band of Brothers is one of those shows that I loved and really, that I try to watch in full every now and then. But of course that would be easier if some asshole named Matt didn't lose Disc 1 of my box set. That fucker. Then again, he did far worse to the Cyber Cafe that he ran into the ground with skimming money off the top, not paying any of the god damn bills and being an all around tool. If given the choice, I'm sure my friend Josh and I would have signed him up to serve at war and hope he died.

Which brings me to the new HBO mini-series The Pacific. What is The Pacific? Well, it's a 10 part HBO mini-series that tells the intertwined stories of three Marines, Robert Leckie, Eugene Sledge and John Basilone, during America's battle with the Japanese in the Pacific during World War II.

The budget for this is $150 million and it was shot on location in Australia, the series follows "the extraordinary experiences of these men and their fellow Marines take them from the first clash with the Japanese in the haunted jungles of Guadalcanal, through the inpenetrable rain forests of Cape Gloucester, across the blasted coral strongholds of Peleliu, up the black sand terraces of Iwo Jima, through the killing fields of Okinawa, to the triumphant, yet uneasy return home after V-J Day."

The whole store is based in part on the books Helmet for my Pillow by Robery 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 original interviews conducted by the filmmakers.

Obviously it is also based on the actions of John Basilone, who was the only enlisted Marine in WWII to be awarded both the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross. He really was that big of a badass. Don't believe me? Just read his citations

Medal of Honor Citation:
For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry in action against enemy Japanese forces, above and beyond the call of duty, while serving with the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division in the Lunga Area. Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, on 24 and 25 October 1942. While the enemy was hammering at the Marines' defensive positions, Sgt. Basilone, in charge of 2 sections of heavy machine guns, fought valiantly to check the savage and determined assault. In a fierce frontal attack with the Japanese blasting his guns with grenades and mortar fire, one of Sgt. Basilone's sections, with its guncrews, was put out of action, leaving only 2 men able to carry on. Moving an extra gun into position, he placed it in action, then, under continual fire, repaired another and personally manned it, gallantly holding his line until replacements arrived. A little later, with ammunition critically low and the supply lines cut off, Sgt. Basilone, at great risk of his life and in the face of continued enemy attack, battled his way through hostile lines with urgently needed shells for his gunners, thereby contributing in large measure to the virtual annihilation of a Japanese regiment. His great personal valor and courageous initiative were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Navy Cross Citation:
For extraordinary heroism while serving as a Leader of a Machine-Gun Section, Company C, 1st Battalion, 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, 19 February 1945. Shrewdly gauging the tactical situation shortly after landing when his company's advance was held up by the concentrated fire of a heavily fortified Japanese blockhouse, Gunnery Sergeant Basilone boldly defied the smashing bombardment of heavy caliber fire to work his way around the flank and up to a position directly on top of the blockhouse and then, attacking with grenades and demolitions, single handedly destroyed the entire hostile strong point and its defending garrison. Consistently daring and aggressive as he fought his way over the battle-torn beach and up the sloping, gun-studded terraces toward Airfield Number 1, he repeatedly exposed himself to the blasting fury of exploding shells and later in the day coolly proceeded to the aid of a friendly tank which had been trapped in an enemy mine field under intense mortar and artillery barrages, skillfully guiding the heavy vehicle over the hazardous terrain to safety, despite the overwhelming volume of hostile fire. In the forefront of the assault at all times, he pushed forward with dauntless courage and iron determination. Stouthearted and indomitable, Gunnery Sergeant Basilone, by his intrepid initiative, outstanding skill, and valiant spirit in the face of the fanatic opposition, contributed materially to the advance of his company during the early critical period of the assault, and his unwavering devotion to duty throughout the bitter conflict was an inspiration to his comrades and reflects the highest credit upon Gunnery Sergeant Basilone and the United States Naval Service.
See what I mean, total badass. Now to answer your question in advance, yes. That's the kid from Jurassic Park in this mini-series. Strange to see him all grown up, isn't it?

And if you're a fan of Fringe, perhaps you should know that Olivia Dunham will be in this HBO mini-series. Yup, Anna Torv will be in this. Just read her interview from Esquire Magazine.. and then look at the pictures as followed as I couldn't help but put them into this blog post full of violence.

That sex scene in The Pacific? You don't get that on Fringe, do you? I don't think anyone finds them easy. It's not that I'm embarrassed about my boobs. It's just that some part of you really doesn't want that out there. At the same time, you want to get good at it. In the moment, what you're really thinking is, Shit, I need a mint.

I don't find guys nervous around me. But maybe guys don't talk to me if they're nervous.

They say Australians get that ten-yard stare. It comes from the land and the horizon. You can see all around you for as far as you can see. So you just stare. I do it all the time.

Sometimes there will be a line in the script and I just can't imagine saying it. I'll ask an American and they'll say, "Oh, yeah. That's how we say it." We just say things differently in Australia — like torch. I'd ask, "Can I have the torch?" It seems to fall flat when I say, "Can I have the flashlight?"

I don't go to clubs or places where people go to be picked up. But if I'm out, I usually sit at the bar.

If someone carries your bag out in Australia, it's like a favor. I always feel sick when I forget to tip the guy carrying it here.

It's a hard concept to get used to: If I pay you more, you do it better.

I just can't bear to swallow Vegemite, and I don't know how people do it. It's revolting. If you want to try something from Australia, go with Tim Tams. They're sweet chocolate biscuits.

So about that.. it seemed that the the interview sort of glossed the whole subject of The Pacific.. but as you can tell, it seems that her tits will be in this.. Oh yeah, and the actress too!

Great Googly Moogly!

Besides being thrilled to see the very much attractive Fringe star in the show, I'm also really thrilled about the idea of seeing this eventually on Bluray. I have to pick up the Band of Brothers Bluray sometime as I'm sure that's the only way I will be able to see the first episodes again. Fucking Matt.

I hear that the video quality is insane. Not to mention the fact that the Pacific theater will have a lot more open sky shots. That in itself makes my home theater shiver with anticipation. Oh yeah, don't mind me, I'm just going to lace Anna Torv's pictures along in this blog to brighten some otherwise dreary topics about war. If you don't want to be brought down to the realities of war, just look at the pretty pictures and keep your hands out of your pockets, misters... and misses?

While I have never been a soldier and never had the position placed where I have to kill the enemy, I don't know what that sort of feeling is like. The one thing I noticed about Band of Brothers was that the Germans were portrayed as impersonal automatons. They were Nazi's! That's all. So killing them was nothing of a big deal. Considering how the fighting in the Pacific were usually in smaller squads and were very up close and personal due to the caves and small islands to fight on, the presence of POWs would give the production room to show some interaction.

Compare the dynamics between Upham and the German soldier who was captured and released in Saving Private Ryan. Due to his morals and fact that he saw the enemy as an actual person, Upham prevented the German from being executed at first. However, this decision comes back to bite him in the ass when that very same German ends up killing Melish and then passes by Upham without worry before shooting Miller. In the end Upham finally realizes that the German is the enemy and executes him at the end of the fight.

That was one of the many things I think Saving Private Ryan was good. As well as the Normandy invasion. Though perhaps it will be a little odd to see the Pacific theater covered. We are going to see a lot more grittiness and how war really was hell. I think one of the main reasons that the pacific theater is often ignored is it's hard to deal with it without going in with the massive racism of the Americans, not that the Japanese were much better, but terms like Kraut almost seem affectionate compared to Jap or Nip.

Then we move past racism and go onto war torture. There is going to have to be at least one scene where a wounded Japanese soldier is having his gold teeth pried out by a G.I. while his buddies laughed. Yes, war torture is not a new thing by any stretch of the imagination. There was a fairly well documented accounts that American soldiers would collect the gold teeth that many Japanese soldiers had, often from wounded enemy soldiers as well as prisoners of war.

War Without Mercy: Race in the pacific war is an excellent book on this subject. Both sided dehumanized each other to the point that they both treated them like shit. The scene I just described was documented by war correspondents, and it was pretty bad. He just used his knife to cut them out of the poor guy who was just laying there from a belly wound.

From what I read, the tooth-removing scene is going to be in there and has been confirmed. What other instances will just balance it out some. One scene will have Sledge, as described in his book;
"As we moved past the defiled, my buddy groaned, "Jesus!" I took a quick glance into the depression and recoiled in revulsion and pity at what I saw. The bodies were badly decomposed and nearly blackened by exposure. This was to be expected of the dead in the tropics. But these Marines had been mutilated hideously by the enemy. one man had been decapitated. His head lay on his chest; his hands had been severed from his wrists and also lay on his chest near his chin. In disbelief I stared at the face as I realized that the Japanese had cut off the dead Marine's penis and stuffed it into his mouth. The corpse next to him had been treated similarly. The third had been butchered, chopped up like carcass torn by some predatory animal."
Yup, all that will be in there. Spielberg has put it that this will be in your face, just like if you were the marines fighting there.

Though people will be expecting stuff like that from the Japanese. I think it will really come as a shock to see the "Heroes" do that to the enemies. Even if they are "enemies", maybe this will change the tide in how the average person feels towards any one who comes from an Arabic country. I mean, yeah, Band of Brothers didn't have you see any of Easy Company shooting prisoners. It happened, only they left that for the French soldiers to do. Which really does make me wonder why we consider them cowards.

I guess you need to keep in mind that the European Theater and the Pacific were two completely different things. While the Nazi's were seen as evil and all that jazz, they were never demonized and dehumanized like the Japanese. I mean, do I need to say anymore than the dropping of the Atomic Bombs? That in itself was.. well, I think overkill would be an understatement.

I recall reading in The Fog of War that if the US would have lost, even after the bombs dropped, that the entire army command would have been put on trail for war crimes because of their actions. But I suppose that's the case in any war ever fought, right? Either way, even though we know the outcome and ending to this series already.. and in many instances you can guess the fates of the characters involved, I'm really looking forward to this new HBO mini-series that starts on Sunday.

No comments: