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The Pacific (2010)
Great job on a monumental task
I couldn't tell you how many times I have watched Band of Brothers. I think it is the best production ever made. However, I resisted watching The Pacific. My father had five years active duty in the Marine Corps when I was born, and remained on active duty until I was 30 years old. I was ten when he left for Viet Nam, the first time, and in high school the next. I had friends whose fathers were seriously wounded, or killed, there. I have always felt like Marines are family, and any depiction of them being killed has always been hard to see. However, I finally decided to "man-up" and watch it, on Veteran's Day this year.
I think BoB was a dream come true for the producers. They had ironclad characters to follow all the way through, and many of the men were still alive and took part in it. The story of Easy company had been put into book form, brilliantly. They didn't have that with The Pacific. The closest they could come was to base it all around three separate men; Robert Leckie,Eugene Sledge and John Basilone. The three men's paths crossed, some,but they did not belong to the same units or know each other, although Leckie and Sledge both knew Basilone's reputation.
As brutal and difficult as the war in Europe was, the Pacific war against the Japanese was almost incomprehensible. Except for their time in Australia, following Guadalcanal, they were fighting the most brutal fights in history, while in the most punishing places on earth.It is a wonder that any of them were ever able to return to civilization and dull the memories of those horrors enough to lead a more or less normal life.
Because of the brutality of both the enemy and the conditions they had to live and fight under, there isn't much in the way of light-heartedness. The Pacific is not as enjoyable as BoB. Anyone seeing it for the first time should not expect to be entertained. It is a bit more difficult to get into. I found it helpful to watch the first episode twice before going on. A little patience in getting to know the primary characters payed off. I also think being able to watch it all over the course of a few days, like I did, was much better than watching it as it was first presented, one episode each week for ten weeks.
There were some excellent performances in The Pacific. Someone else singled out Ravi Malek's portrayal of Merriel "Snafu" Sheldon as award worthy and I agree 100%! I loved William Sadler as LtCol. Lewis "Chesty" Puller, and I was also very impressed with Tom Budge as PFC Ronnie Gibson.
The three primary characters are portrayed worthily. I didn't think Joe Mazzello as Sledge developed his character as well as the other two. However, I ended up with only nine episodes on my DVR. The one I am missing is episode five, which I suspect is centered on Sledge, so perhaps the character will seem better developed to me after I see it. Jon Seda gave a fine performance as John Basilone, which was definitely the roll of a lifetime! I think my favorite of the three was James Badge Dale, as Bob Leckie.
I wasn't as depressed by seeing a portrayal of so many Marines being killed and wounded as I expected. That was partly because not many of them really looked like Marines to me. I have always said that you can put an actor in the Marine Corps uniform but you usually can't make him look like a Marine. There were a few, though, who were totally believable including Jon Seda. Others have commented on the length of the men's hair as being distracting and/or inaccurate. By my first memories, in the mid-late 50s, Marines were wearing the crew-cuts and flat-tops that they have worn ever since. However, I have pictures of my dad in uniform, from a decade earlier, with longer hair, so I think the producers knew what they were doing there.
Although I agree with most posters here, that The Pacific is not as good as BoB, it is still well-done and definitely worth seeing. I think watching it with an open mind, and avoiding comparisons, it is a good way to approach it.
One last comment I have is that I wonder why one young Marine, who was killed on Iwo Jima at age 17, was singled out in the tributes at the end. I assume they meant that to symbolize the thousands of young men who were killed, and it was very effective, IMO. But I would be interested to know why they chose the one they did; if perhaps someone involved in the production was a relative of the young man. I won't say his name for those who might not have seen it yet, but I will always remember it.
The Executioner's Song (1982)
A decent film about a very tragic, true, story
In the summer of 1976, my husband was a 25 year old full-time student at Brigham Young University, and we were renting a tiny house in Orem, Utah. Orem was generally a quiet town, where one could lie in bed on a summer night, with windows wide open, and hear only the noise of a few crickets chirping and dogs barking, and the occasional buzz of a car driven by someone who was working a night shift.
In the middle of the night of 19 July, I awoke to the sounds of sirens...lots of them. I knew there must have been some very significant event, for there to be multiple sirens blaring, and wondered if it might possibly have been a house fire. I didn't find out what those sirens we all about until two days later, when a neighbor commented that there had been another murder the night before. That was when I learned that the sirens I had heard were because of a murder at a gas station just a few blocks away. Soon after, the name of the victim became known. He was a 25 year old BYU student, who had actually served in the mission field with my husband, in Brazil. The young man also had a wife and a new baby, and had been working the night shift at the gas station to support his family, while attending college full-time. The victim of the second murder was another 25 year old BYU student, who was working nights to support a pregnant wife and baby, while attending the university.
I will refrain from using the names of the two fine young men whose lives were ended in such a brutal and senseless manner, out of respect for the privacy of their families. But their names remain, in my mind, and I have often thought of them, over the years, and wondered how they were doing; the wives, now in their fifties, as I am, and also the children, now around 30 years old, who were deprived of their fathers by Gary Gilmore's senseless rampage.
I will never forget the first images I ever saw of Gary Gilmore, taken when he was very first apprehended. He looked like a wild man, with an unkempt beard and long hair flying everywhere, with a crazed look in his eyes. Soon after, however, he took on a clean cut look, which certainly would have increased the general public's sympathy. That started America's interest in Gary Gilmore. In the weeks that followed, it seemed that many Americans couldn't get enough of the story of the ex-con and his little girlfriend, Nicole. The media turned it into a Romeo and Juliette story, about the young man from a tough background, down on his luck, and his beautiful young sweetheart. I'll never forget the time that television programming was interrupted for a special report, stating that Gilmore and Nichol had both been found unconscious, following a suicide attempt, with pictures of the two, side by side. It made me ill to see the way the story was romanticized, while two young widows grieved the loss of their husbands.
When Gilmore was finally executed, I was relieved. There had been local talk of him possibly being released from prison on a technicality, if the sentence of execution was not carried out soon, and I was terrified that he might set out to murder another young BYU student. After the news from the execution finally died down, I did my best to avoid thinking of anything to do with Gary Gilmore.
When I heard about the made-for-TV movie, The Executioner's Song, I was appalled that someone would give Gilmore MORE attention. It took me nearly 20 years to finally watch the film. I will say that Tommy Lee Jones and Rosanna Arquette were brilliant in their roles, and the supporting roles were also well portrayed. I think it did a fair job of presenting the story with a minimum of glorification of Gilmore, while calling attention to the victims of his crimes, at least to some extent. I only hope that Gilmore's victims' wives and children benefited from any money made from the film.