Friday, March 26, 2010

HBO's 'Pacific': Hung Up on Knick-Knacks and Drama

A guest essay at Thomas Ricks' blog, from Eric Hammel,"HBO’s 'Pacific': Someone Please Flush!":


Tom Hanks is an accredited war history buff, and I think he really has put his heart into paying homage to WWII vets. His heart's in the right place, but his head is in Hollywood.

Why should I be surprised a "docudrama" like The Pacific is shit? The whole effort behind the docu part is invested in toys such as gunner's gloves. I long ago boycotted documentary filmmakers who want my brand to legitimize their sorry little TV vignettes. Their objective is entertainment centered on the dramatic visual, not the intellectual, and not quite the historical. If self-professed documentarians can't get it right because they edit the talking heads to accommodate their thin film libraries, why should self-professed entertainers make a better effort, show greater concern?

Has anyone else noticed that the talking heads -- nameless, unexplained vets -- in The Pacific seem to be reading from scripts rather than dipping into memories? They merely mouth error-filled platitudes. Band of Brothers used interesting people with interesting observations. This is the worst way to exploit vets -- making them look like idiots.

It is difficult to frame this story using this set of icons. But the people behind The Pacific volunteered for this. This is their befouled vision, perhaps with the aid of a few bought historians who were probably ignored when the script -- a visual outline -- was fabricated from its many disparate parts. Their good intentions ran afoul bad toilet training; they left the seat up and neglected to flush.
RTWT at the link.

When I first heard read Tom Hanks' comments on "
why we fought the Japanese" I thought I'd withhold comment until I'd seen some of the episodes. But after last Sunday's showing, the series so far seems definitely down compared to "Band of Brothers." I'm not giving up on it, but here's hoping things get a little deeper.

My earlier posts on "The Pacific" are

Photo Credit:
American Power off Hollwood Boulevard, March 20, 2010.


Craig R said...

With all due respect to Mr. Ricks regarding the platitudes, Sid Phillips is one of the gentlemen speaking at the beginning of each episode (at least the first two). He was also featured prominently in the Ken Burns documentary "The War" and said similar things. So I take issue with the suggestion that they are reading what was written for them.

I do agree that it has not been as gripping as "Band of Brothers", I am still enjoying it. It is more down and depressing, but by all accounts, the War in the Pacific was more brutal and miserable (not that the European Theater was easy).

Anonymous said...

Er, ah, Hanks and Spielberg do not "have their hearts in the right place". They are just nostalgic for an era when the democrats could call other people into service and mobilize the entire nation into a real and industrial army. You can bet that uf a Republican was POTUS during WW2 that it would be a different story altogether.

Do not tell me that anyone connected with such a film as :The Da Vinci Code" has "his heart in the right place". They are both cultural marxists (and no doubt political ones too), and thy are senior members of the Left's Nomenklatura in this nation. They deserve no respect whatsoever.

Can we stop imagining that they do this sort o thing as "pro bono" work.

We lso ned to reflect on the fact that the so called :greatest generation" came back to the USA and cheerfully implement the welfare state in the post war years. Much f the statist trying that we face today is their "legacy", as is the crushing burden of the entitlement mentality they invested our socity with.

The Socialism of the European is also the handy work of the new ealer who, at the time, could not get away with it here.

Yes there were great warriors, but let us not imagine that the vast majority of this generation actually fought in the war, or that those that did were more valorous than those who fought in any other war we have fought.