When a miniseries sustains its integrity and scope across several episodes, I’m inclined to think of it as an epic-length film, the equal of Sergei Bondarchuk’s War and Peace, Fassbinder’s Berlin Alexanderplatz, Abel Gance’s Napol√©on, and von Stroheim’s lost masterpiece Greed. Last year John Adams met that criteria for me. Eight years ago, HBO made what stands, for me, as the greatest war movie of all time — Band of Brothers, clocking in at 11 hours and 45 minutes.
The same team reunites to tell the story unfolding on the other side of the globe, in The Pacific, based on first-person accounts by two Marines who were there — “With the Old Breed” by Eugene Sledge and “Helmet for My Pillow” by Robert Leckie.
The miniseries tracks the intertwined odysseys of three U.S. Marines – Robert Leckie, John Basilone and Eugene Sledge – across the vast canvas of the Pacific. The extraordinary experiences of these men and their fellow Marines take them from the first clash with the Japanese in the haunted jungles of Guadalcanal, through the impenetrable rain forests of Cape Gloucester, across the blasted coral strongholds of Peleliu, up the black sand terraces of Iwo Jima, through the killing fields of Okinawa, to the triumphant, yet uneasy, return home after V-J Day.
Filmed mostly in Australia, with a budget being reported between $200-250 million, the 10-part epic will premiere sometime next year (March, 2010?) If that’s too long to wait, you might want to revisit Terrance Malick’s The Thin Red Line (trailer after the cut).