In lieu of a traditional gift guide this season, I’ll be spotlighting deluxe editions and special releases as they roll out through the holiday gift season. We begin with…
Band of Brothers/The Pacific Special Edition Gift Set (HBO) pairs up the two acclaimed HBO World War II mini-series on DVD and Blu-ray.
After “Saving Private Ryan” in a single mission, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks teamed up to produce a chronicle of the European theater of WWII from a soldier’s eye view on a vast canvas. The resulting ten-hour 2001 mini-series Band of Brothers won six Emmy Awards (out of 19 nominations) and is, simply put, one of the most powerful and entrancing portraits of men in war ever put on screen. Shot in same khaki and gray tones and combat staccato flicker of “Ryan,” as if viewed through the adrenaline-enhanced fear and hyper-alert eyes of a soldier under fire, it captures the texture of battle, the dynamics of platoon life, the wear of fatigue and experience, and the sudden bursts that break a lull, like a lightning attack or a deadly volley of bombs.
Two landmarks of TV hit DVD this week courtesy of Shout! Factory: Frank Sinatra: Concert Collection (reviewed here) and The Larry Sanders Show: The Complete Series (reviewed here). While it’s hard for any other releases to find sun in the long shadows cast by these major sets, here are a couple that deserve consideration.
The Pacific (HBO) – Winner of eight Emmy Awards (including Outstanding Miniseries), the epic portrait of the war in the Pacific in World War II comes from the producers of Band of Brothers as a companion piece to that series and a contrast to the warfare that faced American servicemen. The ten-hour production follows three soldiers—PFC Robert Leckie (James Badge Dale, now the star of AMC’s Rubison), PFC Eugene Sledge (Joe Mazzello) and medal of honor winner Sgt. John Basilone (Jon Seda)—from Pearl Harbor and the first battles on Guadalcanal across the Pacific (and back home for Bond drives) to Okinawa and V-J Day and finally homecoming, which is filled with just as much anxiety as some of the battles, though for very different reasons. We face shadowy soldiers storming out the cover of jungle with the darkness split by the flare of gunfire and grenades, endure the bombs raining on American camps and the tropical rains that bring sickness and rot and watch the horrors of jungle warfare and the crushing pressure of constant combat that wears men down as sure as gunfire and shrapnel.