LOS ANGELES (Kyodo) While many films have explored World War II in Europe, from D-Day to the Holocaust to the French resistance, and myriad other aspects as well, the Pacific theater has largely been overlooked, only rarely examined on screen in much detail.
Executive producers Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Gary Goetzman, as well as a bevy of directors, writers and actors, hope to remedy this inequity with “The Pacific.”
The monumental 10-part miniseries goes “under the helmet” to follow the intersecting experiences of three U.S. Marines as they fight against Japan.
It airs with subtitles at 10 p.m. Sundays on WOWOW.
In a phone interview, Hanks explained the intention of this epic undertaking, which was filmed in Australia and cost more than $200 million to produce.
“War in Japan takes second seat to the much more recognizable and much more accessible war in Europe,” he said. “I look at this era like I am unlocking a mystery. During this period of time, not just life but every aspect of society was up for grabs. That’s powerful storytelling.”
Based on the memoirs of Robert Leckie and Eugene Sledge, both privates first class, the story traces their individual experiences as well as the storied military career of Sgt. John Basilone, as the three marines traverse the Pacific.
“We ended up forging this very specific journey from the U.S. to Guadalcanal to Peleliu and back and forth with our characters,” Hanks explained. “We tried to do our due diligence in making sure the narratives of the characters were going to be true and authentic and recognizable within everybody’s experiences.”
Starring James Badge Dale, Joe Mazzello and Jon Seda as Leckie, Sledge and Basilone, “The Pacific” takes a graphic and raw look at the war through the lens of these real-life figures.
“You can’t talk about maps, you can’t talk about strategies, you can’t talk about the bigger stripes of history,” Hanks said. “You can only talk about what it was like for our guys, and in that, we didn’t want to cut any corners.”
“The Pacific” is viewed as something of a companion piece to “Band of Brothers,” a similar series that focused on the European theater of operations and was created by the same production team.
While “Band of Brothers” aired nearly 10 years ago and was fairly successful in Japan, “The Pacific” obviously hits a more direct and sensitive part of World War II for the Japanese people.
Coincidentally, the series will also play through the 65th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in August 1945.
While the series makes no claim to objectivity and focuses entirely on American soldiers, Hanks believes it can reach all audiences with a universality that transcends both time and borders.
“You end up seeing the price that’s paid on both sides,” he remarked. “I think this is not a matter of healing; it’s just a matter of discussion. I think the important thing to come out of this is the memories.”
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.