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Is Band of Brothers any good?

Discussion in 'The Moving Picture' started by handymike, Mar 11, 2016.

  1. As a kid, even though I had hardly traveled out of state and never overseas - Europe, its states, Germany, England, France, etc., its famous cities, Paris, London, Berlin were things I could relate to. The pre-war newsreels showed cities that looked like NYC, etc., and as a fan of old movies, I'd seen those cities looking like cities I knew; whereas, the Pacific battles in Iwo Jima, Leyte, Okinawa only meant something to me because they were location of WWII battles.

    Is this Western bias - sure, maybe, but America was born by breaking free of England and the dominant immigrant groups that had assimilated - when I was growing up in the late '60s / '70s - were from, mainly, Europe. I could relate to the Allied invasion of Sicily; whereas, I had no frame of reference for Saipan and knew almost no Asian people.

    In a very good way things have changed a lot from those years, but it makes sense to me that the European theater was more relatable for most Americans.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2016
  2. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec Practically Family

    A couple of thoughts -

    The Pacific was adapted from two books rather than one ... thus some of the dislocation and, possibly, some of the character issues. In Band of Brothers the characters are often defined in comparison to one another through their relationships with one another ... sometime just in one scene, but still ...

    The Pacific was trying to do too much. Soldiers in the pacific theater moved around a lot. If I remember right Eugene Sledge, the author of one of the books, ended up in China and continued his duty there after the war. The miniseries was trying to "cover the whole war" from the beginning of the soldiers service until they came home, a la Band of Brothers. A difficult act to follow both in quality and structurally.

    The pacific war had a lot of waiting and delaying in it. Then it was fought in the periphery, a lasso that rounded up the Japanese expansion and either drove it home or cut it off. I have no doubt that a good work of FICTION could have caught the sense of it all but the style BOB set is to fictionalize non-fiction in as "accurate" a manner as makes sense.

    Pacific vets don't talk about the war like European vets do. They never have. Their vision of their war is distinctly different ... I think this comes from not being surrounded by a civilization they could relate to or, at times, any civilization at all. What they were fighting "for" was more abstract. As minimal as US involvement in actual WWI combat was the whole nation, all the WWII soldiers young lives, had been overwhelmed by America's WWI propaganda. When WWII started American soldiers had a complete narrative to walk into. Those who had served in Latin America or China between the wars were not as clear about their experience (like some Vietnam vets) and didn't talk about it much. The US went to Europe to finish the job they had been sold on 25 years before ... the goal was clear.

    The part of the war that is REALLY forgotten in the US is the CBI (China, Burma, India) theater. It was an even more alien experience in some ways than The Pacific.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2016
    AmateisGal likes this.
  3. I'll be apostate here. I agree that 'we' have more interest in the European theater for many reasons cited previously. The Pacific series and the actual history, are both fascinating, compelling and deserve more attention. The vast distances and the drama of the many amphibious operations against a foe that was so alien to our own culture and concepts of warfare, and the climate, all make a strong contrast to the ETO.
    The proportion of combat by the Navy in surface and carrier engagements is another major difference.
    There were many 'personalities' to compete with the ETO: MacArthur, Halsey, Chesty Puller, Howling Mad Smith, Admiral John S. McCain were all interesting. Few of the Japanese generals or admirals except Yamamoto became household names here, though.
    'Thin Red Line', 'Letters from Iwo Jima', 'Flags of our Fathers' have all made some contribution to covering the ground war; 'Tora! Tora! Tora! (auto correct tried to make it Torah!) 'Midway' and 'In Harm's Way' were decent vignettes of the naval war. Have no idea where 'Bridge on the River Kwai' and 'Pearl Harbor' fit in. Maybe 'Pearl Harbor' is best forgotten.
    Anyway, that's a jumbled explanation why I like HBO's 'The Pacific' so much. John Basilone: he was the man! The actor's resemblance in the series was very good.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2016
  4. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec Practically Family

    "We" (if you are from the USA) tend to sort of be obsessed with the end of the war, Pearl Harbor movies and books exempted. I find myself drawn to its very chaotic beginnings: Japan v USSR, Japan v China, Japan v French Indochina (weren't they run by Vichy?), USSR v Finland, Soviet/Nazi proxy war in Spain, Soviets and Nazis divide Poland, England woos Italy, etc. It scares me a bit because it looks sort of like the world today (I thought that long before Brexit!).

    A Dickens quote that works on everything: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way — in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
  5. You forgot some things in your discussion which I agree with in general. Several of the BEST war films made BEFORE the ones you list delve deeply into the early desperate days of the war.

    "The Were Expendable"
    "Air Force"

    "Guadacanal Diary"

    These were great films made during or just after they war. I personally find the Pacific theatre fascinating. In Europe, forgive me, but they were fighting over the same fields and lands that man has been fighting over since before the birth of Christ. In the Pacific it was a whole new war and a different kind of war.

    Redshoes51 and AmateisGal like this.
  6. (
    Worf, Thanks for the reminder of those early movies, which were good, if now 'dated' and largely forgotten by the last couple of generations. William Bendix was a believable 'everyman' in Guadalcanal Diary. 'From Here to Eternity' (admittedly not a shoot-em-up) and 'Sands of Iwo Jima' were pretty good movies from the earlier era.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2016
  7. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

    ...that's because the 101st Airborne is a distinctly personable outfit. ;) Ex-101st Airborne.:)
  8. EngProf

    EngProf One of the Regulars

    Actually, you're right about that. I live in Nashville and volunteer at the 101st Airborne Museum at Ft. Campbell. I have gotten to know a lot of past and present 101st guys, and they really are "distinctly personable". (going all the way back to WWII vets)
    Also, historically the 101st has always had a very-extensive photographic/PR effort which helped their public identity. The 82nd had an almost-hostile attitude about the same subject. There are 10 times as many photos and documents about the 101st as compared to the 82nd.
    Worf likes this.
  9. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

    Is Elaine's Café-out the main gate at Campbell towards Clarksville still there? Printer's Alley was my company's Nashville home.:D
    Special Forces command is at Campbell now I believe.
  10. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom Practically Family

    Yes! Santa brought me the complete 6 disc set of Band of Brothers! Now I will no longer be the only guy in the room who has not seen it. Am so looking forward to pouring myself a whiskey and losing myself in the story.
    AmateisGal likes this.
  11. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec Practically Family

    They are both great shows and the issues we have discussed are interestingly "on theme" for the history of the different parts of the conflict. You're going to enjoy yourself!
  12. AmateisGal

    AmateisGal I'll Lock Up

    I received The Pacific for Christmas! Glad to have my own copy as I had to borrow my brother's.
  13. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec Practically Family

    I always thought that the casting of Anne Parisse as John Basilone's wife was terrific, not that any HBO mini series suffers from bad casting. Lena Riggi was a few years older than John and Parisse, while always terrific, can present an air of sadness that underscores everything she does with a sense of time slipping away. A bit like Cary Mulligan in that way.
    AmateisGal likes this.

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