Ian Lewis, Director of Sky Movies, called The Pacific “the TV event of the year” last night at the advance press screening we attended in London. I would go one better and call it the TV event of the decade.
Following in the formidable footsteps of Emmy-winning 2001 HBO miniseries, Band of Brothers, and bringing back together the creative heavyweight team of Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, and Gary Goetzman, the miniseries is based in part on the classic military memoirs “With the Old Breed” by Eugene B. Sledge and “Helmet for my Pillow” by Robert Leckie.
The Pacific tracks the three, entwined journeys of Robert Leckie (James Badge Dale), Eugene B. Sledge (Joe Mazzello) and John Basilone (Jon Seda) and their fellow Marines over the vast and brutual landscape of the Pacific War, as they fight against the merciless Japanese Army.
Following the Band of Brothers was never going to be an easy ask, but having seen the first two parts of The Pacific, I don’t know why I worried. It is on course to be a masterpiece.
Emotionally wrenching, The Pacific takes the viewer on an unforgettable and unflinching journey as you follow the story of these young men. Each episode is intense, dramatic and having been shot entirely in High Definition, looks, sounds and feels glorious. The cinematography is forbiddingly captivating and brings a whole new layer of gritty realism to the conflict.
There are no big name actors here, yet you don’t need them. Moving easily between the experiences and stories of the three key protagonists, The Pacific gives a detailed insight into what life on the front-line was truly like.
The series pulls no punches and brings the horrors so deftly recounted in both Leckie and Sledge’s classic memoirs vividly to life, with a commendable commitment not to sugarcoat for the audience. This was a visceral, bitter and bloody war, with a relentless and fanatical enemy, and those of us aware of the devastating atrocities faced by the men who went to war in the Pacific theatre, will appreciate the honesty.
The bitter battles are terrifying and exciting, yet also illustrate poignantly and eloquently the high cost to human life the conflict wrought. The heroic spirit of the men who survive is brought compellingly to life by the extraordinary performances by both the leads and their supporting cast.
The Pacific is an astounding, haunting piece of storytelling, and turns the belief that television is cinema’s lesser counterpart firmly on its head. If you don’t have HBO, get it. If you don’t have Sky, sign up. For all military history fans, this new age in war cinema is a must.