I had to take a break from Rocky and watch the Band of Brothers / The Pacific Blu-ray special edition gift set.
First off, Band of Brothers is my absolute favorite of the two series. It seems to me a little more poetic and thoughtful. The pacing feels more intentional and dramatic. The interviews with the original veterans really make the story more real, even if it is a dramatization of the actual events.
Unfortunately, Blu-ray really shows the technical flaws in the series, which makes me feel like I uncovered a severe flaw in a lover I had never noticed before. The camera work is all over the place, and it is hard to say that it is the “style” of the production. There are moments where the image is sharp and pristine with minimal noise backed up against a noisy and sometimes soft focused cut away. There is no real consistency and the first episode is severely handicapped by what seems to be an over abundance of artificial noise applied to the overall sepia toned image. No other episode has it this bad.
It may be that I was tainted by the opening trailers for HBO films, but I don’t think the low grade, highly compressed trailer on the first disc could taint the other 4. When I popped in the first disc I had to double-check that I indeed got the Blu-ray gift set… it was that bad.
The Pacific is technically better than Band of Brothers. The colors and image quality is consistent throughout the entire set. The series goes beyond the brutality that Band of Brothers shied away from. Band of Brothers has an overarching theme of “keep what you kill” where soldiers are always on the look out for the highly coveted luger pistol. The Pacific takes this philosophy many steps beyond the bounds of morality where soldiers are found cutting teeth with gold fillings out of dead Japanese soldiers. In one episode, the character who goes by “Snafu” is shown lackadaisically throwing pebbles into the open skull of a dead Japanese machine gunner manning his weapon. The series nearly borders on having Apocalypse Now moments.
Even though The Pacific shows horrific events only dramatized in Vietnam war movies, it still doesn’t have the lasting impression that Band of Brothers has. The characters have less redeemable qualities, and the playful banter displayed in the European epic is absent in the islands of combat.
Between the two, The Pacific is the more good-looking, hardcore, psycho brother you hope doesn’t show up to any family reunions. The story is more successful at building the character of the war than the individual characters that took part in it.