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In HBO's 'The Pacific,' even good wars are hell

Pacific It's a rare moment on Guadalcanal: Neither rain nor Japanese artillery shells are pouring from the skies, and a young Marine is using the time to scribble a letter to a girl waiting (maybe) back home. He's surprised when the rest of the men want to know what he's saying. ``I'm going to tell her the truth,'' he replies earnestly. ``We've been swallowed by the jungle and 5,000 Japs are waiting to kill us.''

The Pacific is as brutally simple and direct -- and as oblivious to modern PC sensibilities -- as the Marine's letter. Produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, this 10-part HBO miniseries is a loving but anguished tribute to the men who fought on the bloody island hellholes that comprised World War II's Pacific theater.

Their war was not one of lightning armored strikes but grim jungle slogs where progress was measured not in miles but corpses. They fought an enemy that neither gave nor willingly received quarter, and they did it in terrifyingly personal combat that was not just hand-to-hand but fingernail-to-fingernail and even tooth-to-tooth. Their moral code was identical to the final instructions from their officers as they prepared to storm ashore on Guadalcanal in 1942: ``When you see the Japs, kill 'em all.''

This grisly side of war is fully on display in The Pacific. No television drama -- including Band of Brothers, the 2001 Spielberg/Hanks account of the European theater of World War II -- has been so horrifyingly graphic or so relentlessly cruel. Sudden random death and dismemberment occur with shocking regularity, and as the men slowly begin to realize, more is at stake than their lives and limbs. ``We have met the enemy and have learned nothing more about him,'' one Marine writes home. ``I have, however, learned something about myself. There are things that men can do to one another that are sobering to the soul.'' Read my full review in Sunday's Miami Herald.

Comments

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codfather

Are there going to be any more episodes of "The Pacific" being shown on TV 101? Is there a schedule of such shows? Thanks,
Walt

prit

wow!!! amazing picture.

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