Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Pacific

I did a marathon of the HBO miniseries, The Pacific. It’s sort of a companion piece to the Band Of Brothers, but it isn’t executed as well, I think.

The show takes a lot of A Helmet for My Pillow by Bob Leckie (which I have not read) and The Old Breed by Eugene Sledge (which I have). The authors personas were also both characters in the series.

I take a greater interest because the unit they follow was also my grandfather's. The 1st Battalion of the 7th Marine Regiment, First Marine Division. He was a radioman in the Headquarters Company, and his first and only battle was on Pelilu, which feature prominently in the show, naturally.

So what is wrong with it? The story doesn't grab you, and the actual events lend themselves to a coherent dramatic narrative, working with the source materials, that a teleplay writer should have done a better job with. The characters aren't written very likably either. I cared about the Gunny and Captain Ack-Ack, but they got little screen time. The main characters were practically interchangeable and forgettable. In Band Of Brothers each of the non-cannon-fodder ensemble cast was at the very least memorable, and most were sympathetic.

Despite it being not as strong a series as Band Of Brothers, I still liked it. I noticed that the Marines didn’t attack anything in the first 3 or 4 parts. I’m sure they did, in the war, at Guadalcanal, but it was interesting that the film maker showed it like that. What I mean is, the Marines fought from prepared positions, and Japanese banzai charges would crash against them and be absolutely slaughtered. There is some historic validity to this portrayal. A Japanese charge relied on shock to knock out an enemy force, but pretty much up until Guadalcanal that tactic was used by veteran Japanese soldiers against Chinese forces. And against them it would work. The US forces had more firepower and probably more discipline and the aggressive Japanese method would have to be rethought.

And rethink it they did, after that hard lesson. In later episodes, as in the war, the Japanese took to well fortified bunkers to bleed the US Forces to death, and then the Marines had to assault positions and dig the enemy out. At least the Marines didn’t assume banzai charges.

Gun content? The usual for a Dub-Dub-Too movie. Lots of Tommy guns, Springfield 03’s on the ‘Canal, up grading to Garands and lots of M1 Carbines for later battles. LOTS of carbines.

We also saw machine guns go from water jacketed jobs to air cooled. Didn’t see any Reisings, but people don’t expect to see them in a World War 2 movie. Plus I don’t think there are a lot of prop Reisings for movie makers to call upon.

We saw the same green jeep pass by the camera over and over again.

But back to guns. This made me think... of a meme…

If you had to go back and fight in any of the battles of history since the invention of the gun, you as you are now, and you got to pick the weapon that would be your primary weapon, which era and weapon would you choose.

You might say, “That’s easy. I’d pick the US side of Korean War and carry around a M2 Carbine. It’s light weight and I’m old and fat.”

Or you might say, “I’d select the Martini Henry and fight the Zulu’s It was so much better than what the opposing forces had. Notwithstanding some massacres. I wouldn’t want to be in on the massacres, naturally”

Or you might say, “I’d carry a PPsH against the fascists in Stalingrad. All those round of magnum quality pistol ammo in a bullet hose. Plus I really hate Nazis.”

Or you might say, “I’m still big and strong and the M60 saved my life once back in 1967 against Charlie.”

My choices would be WWII as an American carrying the relatively heavy Thomson submachinegun. I just really like that gun. If I was young I might choose the BAR.


The Old Man said...

I think I see a loophole and would carry an M-14 at Gettysburg.... Carried an M-60 and would prefer to use it from a bunker - don't tire out the ass't gunner that way.

Like the BAR also, but I'm too old'n'tired to carry one anymore. Always wanted to be Kirby....

Old NFO said...

BAR and an ammo monkey :-)

Jay G said...

Heh. The Old Man beat me to it - I'd opt for the Thompson, too, but I'd want it fighting alongside General Washington...


Boat Guy said...

Current war (better casualty care and MEDEVAC) with WWII weapons (M1 Garand and 1911) and Rules of Engagement.