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Pacific v South Pacific; blood v Bloody Mary


The_pacific I HAVE JUST ENDURED watching all the episodes of The Pacific - the US/Australian mini-series about World War II in the Pacific theatre.

It is bloody, violent, sad and heroic. But I think it bears little resemblance to the reality of the Pacific campaigns, except perhaps from the perspective of the US marines. It also features gratuitous sex scenes which serve no useful purpose.

It features no local people (except for one Japanese boy on Okinawa, a few civilians getting shot, and lots of Japanese corpses). It has no one else doing the fighting except US soldiers. And it does not attempt to portray the political or wider context of the war.

The Pacific features 1940's Melbourne in one episode (quite well done thanks to computer effects) but only to provide love interest.

One episode is supposed to be on the Gazelle Peninsular in East New Britain, but there is little historical accuracy. It was filmed around Port Douglas in Queensland.

My opinion of the mini-series is that it is a gut-wrenching vindication of the actions of the US Marines in the Pacific theatre - all well and good, but not a history in any sense of the word.

It does portray the horror of war - but too much. I don't really recommend it.

Southpacific_large However you can view the musical South Pacific and have a better movie experience - albeit through the eyes and ears of Rogers and Hammerstein.

Bloody Mary is a great creation and the music is one of the best scores ever written - although it has nothing to do with PNG. But neither does The Pacific.

I remember my Auntie taking me to see South Pacific in 1959, and it has been with me ever since. There's a great scene when a man parachutes out of a plane, and a boat lands on top of him. "It's not my day!" he says.

I might add that The Pacific bears no comparison to The Thin Red Line, Terence Malik's masterpiece about the Guadalcanal campaign and, in my opinion, one of the best films ever made, not least because of the haunting use of Melanesian music and the spiritual nature of the story.


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Barbara Short

Talking of films, I enjoyed watching the new film "Sisters of War" on the ABC recently.

Of course, nothing looked like it should but that is the film world. Also the horrific things that happened in the Gazelle Peninsula were watered down for general viewing.

The best thing about the film was that it was based on a genuine friendship between one of the Rabaul nuns and one of the army nurses and we saw a present day interview with them at the end of the film.

Peter Kranz

The cinema where I saw 'South Pacific' in 1959 was just off Piccadilly Circus in London. Most of the time they used to show only cartoons - 24 hours a day - the only cinema I have heard of which ever did that.

As a small and troublesome boy, whenever my family wanted a break to shut me up, they took me to watch the cartoons there! I think the tickets were 2s/6d.

Come to think of it, I haven't changed much.

Martin Hadlow

Interestingly, although it's a lovely film, little of 'South Pacific' was filmed in the Pacific either!

When we visited Tioman Island in Malaysia, we swam in a small lake under a waterfall which, we were told, was where parts of the film were shot.

Apparently, 'South Pacific' was also filmed in the Mediterranean, namely Ibiza in the Balearic Islands of Spain.

The Pacific connection? Some scenes were actually filmed in Hawaii.

But it doesn't really matter, I suppose. Nice film, delightful music.

Peter Kranz

To be fair - a bit more about The Thin Red Line. It was actually partly filmed in the Solomons, although the battle scenes were made in North Queensland for logistical reasons.

One of the main characters - played by Jim Caviezel - argues with the Sean Penn character (who is a hard-bitten cynic) about the reason for the war.

He says we are fighting for a better life and the film reinforces this possibility by the scenes of the idyllic innocence of the Melanesian village with children swimming in the lagoon.

Yes, all a bit rosy and idealistic, but extremely moving. And it does play a respectful tribute to the local people.

The amazing music is by Hans Zimmer and features the choir of the Melanesian Brotherhood and the Choir of All Saints Honiara.

"I seen another world. Sometimes I think it was just my imagination" - Private Witt.

Here's a clip -

Watch it if you haven't already. You will not be disappointed.

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