Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Pacific, "Part Seven": My father's gun

A review of tonight's "The Pacific" - the most intense, harrowing, and best installment yet - coming up just as soon as I hit the driving range...
"You don't wanna do that." -Snafu
I complained in the early "Pacific" reviews that vignettes of Sledge back home in Mobile were sometimes a distraction - that I would have rather stayed with Leckie and Basilone in the field than to keep coming back to the kid who wouldn't be seeing combat for until the miniseries was almost half over.

But ultimately, those scenes turn out to have been essential. Because we spent a fair amount of time with Sledge as a naive kid eager to go to war to prove himself, it's far more striking to now see him as the veteran who leaves Peleliu haunted by what he saw and did there. The Sledge of Mobile would have looked at those women in white and then sheepishly averted his eyes when called on it; the Sledge of Peleliu was able to scare off another man in uniform with his stare. Terrific work by Joseph Mazzello throughout.

After being horrified by Snafu's amoral attitude and tooth-scavenging in Part Five, Sledge is ready to follow suit here - and in a wonderful moment, so ambiguously-played by Rami Malek, Snafu gets him to stop, perhaps because Snafu means what he says about germs, or perhaps because Snafu's not so far gone that he recognizes there's some part of Sledgehammer that should be protected from becoming like him. Of course, that he does it only moments after we see him casually dropping pebbles into a dead man's open skull cavity - a horrifying image that's not going to leave my brain anytime soon - only adds to the ambiguity(*), and the dark comedy of it all.

(*) Also ambiguous, and horrific: Snafu killing the wounded soldier whose teeth are being excavated by another Marine. He says he did it because it "makes it easier," but you could also read it as Snafu putting the poor bastard out of his misery.

By spending three episodes on one island, and most of that time with Sledge, this stretch of the miniseries feels a little more focused than some of the early episodes on Guadalcanal. By the time we leave Peleliu, I felt like I understood not only Sledge, but Snafu and Gunny Haney and the late Ack-Ack, where Leckie and Basilone were the only men in their respective stories who got much characterization. "The Pacific" was designed as a three-character piece, with each man trading spotlights, but given that they barely cross paths with each other, it helps if they have other people to react to, and Sledge in this Peleliu sequence has by far the richest supporting cast. Hell, Snafu alone is such a weird, compelling figure that this episode feels less a Sledge solo than a Sledge/Snafu duet.

There's more action at night than there was in the previous two episodes, and in general, director Tim Van Patten seems content to let things seem as chaotic and blurred together as it does to Sledge, whose only real way to differentiate the days is with the tally he keeps in his Bible-cum-journal.

Ultimately, nothing seems to matter on Peleliu except the chaos. Ack-Ack is killed by sniper fire (and his body is given a touching impromptu honor guard from the gathered Marines), Gunny Haney finally cracks under the pressure of a very different war from the one he fought as a young man, and the island itself turns out to have no military value. At episode's end, Eugene runs into the water on Pavuvu to get clean, but there are some thing you just can't wash off.

Some other thoughts

• In a role reversal, now it's Basilone as subject of a few random trips home while we follow Sledge in combat, with the hero of Guadalcanal miserable as a celebrity back in America while his buddies are getting chewed up overseas.

• Speaking of which, we get a couple of cameos from characters from earlier in the series, as Chesty Puller limps past Sledge while Leckie's pal Chuckler is carried off in a stretcher, wounded but alive. Bruce McKenna said he would have loved to feature more of Chesty, particularly after he saw William Sadler's performance; the problem was that after Guadalcanal, Chesty was never geographically all that close to the events our main characters were involved in.

• But if Chesty is largely absent, Scott Gibson got to do some nice work as Ack-Ack Haldane, who gets to show the kind of subtle leadership that Leckie never really seemed to witness during his time in action. Here, we see him distracting Sledge with talk of home, and then with a very important, but safe and easy to perform, task: waking him from a 20-minute cat nap.

• McKenna wrote the "Bastogne" episode of "Band of Brothers" that focused on combat from the point of view of the company medic. Here he echoes that idea with the sequence where Sledge has to serve as a stretcher bearer, running frantically through the field of fire, in as much danger as the other Marines but not in a position to fight back.

What did everybody else think?

40 comments:

Maria said...

What did I think? That I won't be able to sleep tonight after watching that.

Dan said...

That was the most intense clip/movie/show that I have ever watched. I'm almost speechless

MM said...

Rami Malek's performance was stunning and powerfully effective.

MichaelVK said...

Amazing. I'm still recovering. I knew that Ack Ack was going to be hit but I was still a hot mess anyway. I wasn't sure sure of course how/if they were going to show it--I love that he was hit off screen. Very Greek theatre. :-)

Toeknee said...

I liked the episode and thought the two main battle scenes were very well done and completely supsenseful. But that montage at the beginning bothered me - it seemed like something out of a cheesy made-for-TV movie. And the bit of Sledge ticking off the days didn't ring true - maybe I'm remembering it wrong, but it seemed like he'd add several tick marks at once, instead of one a day, which is the actual way I'd imagine it being done.

Interesting that you mention "Bastogne," Alan. This ep. made me think of "Breaking Point". During the scene with the mortar squad heading into the heat of the battle, the gunfire seemed to be inescapable, as did the artillery shelling of "Breaking Point". And with several key characters getting killed or wounded (Chuckler, Hillbilly, Leyden, Haldane), that reminded me of Muck, Penkala, Toye and Guarnere going down.

On the other hand, the scene of the 1st marines returning from the hills as the 5th marines went in reminded me of the end of "Crossroads", as the 101st headed into Bastogne. I liked the little displays of camaraderie between the two divisions in that scene.

Also, Alan, I really do appreciate you're keeping the discussions here spoiler free. I had no idea Haldane and Hillbilly would get killed.

And finally, I was impressed by Joseph Mazello's real tears.

Andrew said...

I need a drink after watching this episode. Wow.

Brian said...

I'm going to have a drink AND curl into the fetal position after that.

Rando Eastman said...

There were several early episodes in The Pacific that seemed canned, poorly constructed, and somewhat out of place to me.

The three episode series on the island of Peleliu are not those earlier unsatisfying episodes.

Stack this trio up against any in The Band of Brothers saga and it's a very even fight. Just an incredible series of heart string tugs tonight and if the battle on Okinawa can live up to these I'll have completely changed my tune on the series. Outstanding episode.

TimmyD said...

Was he counting the days or was he counting (estimating) how many people he had killed?

DL said...

I echo @rando eastman's sentiments. I have had a terribly difficult time getting into this series. I had zero connection with any of the characters. A problem that I didn't have with Band of Brothers. Sledge (and to some extent Snafu) are characters that the show has actually allowed me to connect with. The last two or three episodes have been barely redeeming for an otherwise disappointing series that I had extremely high expectations for.

Bob said...

I wasn't sure what to think about the blanket being placed over the dead body of Ack Ack -- you know, the green blanket his father may have had something to do with. Too much? Since this episode and the last one sucked me into the series, I'm going with it. Well played, Mr. Van Patten. He's come a long way since playing Salami on The White Shadow.

Magnus Anton Lekay said...

So far, this is the episode that earns the series its inevitable Emmy. I was very affected by it. I couldn't find a misstep anywhere. It is tragically and horrifyingly beautiful.

I feel that anyone who didn't connect with this episode is either incapable of appreciating quality or trying very hard to not like it.

Granted, I had not felt very connected to the men until this episode. I think the problem for "The Pacific" is that, unlike "Band of Brothers," it did not give us time to get to know most of the men before we saw them turned into killing machines.

miglet said...

I have never cried in a war film before. Well, "Force Ten From Navarone" has its moments-but, no really, Joseph Mazzello's POV in the bunker scene had me weeping.

I agree with the ambiguity of the scene, but I choose to believe Snafu was saving Sledgehammer from a fate that was not his.

Matt from Raleigh said...

I think that if the first five episodes had the power of the last two more people would be talking about this show. As it is they missed their window

Don said...

Having recently read Sledge's book, I was certain they were going to emphasize Ack Ack's death as Sledge claimed that was the worst moment of his war.

But I was a little surprised that the Sledge-Haney boat encounter near the end didn't feature a conversation that Sledge noted in his book. I don't recall if it was with Haney or a un-named vet, but Sledge writes that he asked a veteran for his opinion on what they had just been through and the Vet, who had experienced multiple campaigns, admitted Peleliu was the worst of the worst.

I also think Episode 7 did an excellent job covering the Marines' exhaustion and more importantly, their "eyes," particularly when the 1st Marines were being relieved. Sledge goes into great detail about how Marines came off that island with weary and blank stares. And Sledge's father makes similar mention of that early in the series. I thought Ep 7 paid great attention to that detail and some of that imagery will be what I take away from the series.

Hollywoodaholic said...

I guess every media-consuming generation has to have it's "war is hell" moment, and this episode sealed that truth for my 13 year-old son watching with me. The bloody opening film clips of real casualties combined with the relentless imagery of death,fear, collapse and those vacant eyes cancelled whatever appeal for combat that Xbox or PS3 shooter games may engender. "I'm never ever going to volunteer for war," my son solemnly vowed. And for that alone, I praise, "The Pacific."

dez said...

a horrifying image that's not going to leave my brain anytime soon

It was a disgusting image, but gone from my mind pretty quickly (probably because I watch too many horror films). I was also more worried about Sledge becoming like Snafu and was grateful Snafu stopped him. Seeing Sledge take the teeth would have been more horrifying to me.

Anonymous said...

Snafu is a great, great character. Once again we see inaccuracies though: Stretcher bearers being called in under a field of fire? Even my wife (who knows nothing about combat) correctly pointed out that would never happen because even the dumbest officer wouldn't send four defenseless men into heavy fire to drag out one injured man.

paul said...

This was a great episode. There were a number of nits I found annoying. As someone up the chain said, the blanket business was a bit too on the nose. Ack-Ack's death sequence was far too quick. From the order to halt to the shots and yell of "corpsman" to death announcement, only a few seconds passed, and this made the whole sequence seem too stagey. Reuse of another iconic moment from "Saving Private Ryan": "let the bastards burn!" And it looked to me like they used the same set (rocky hills surrounding a depressed area with the US troops on an overlook opposing several bunkers) for several different battles. With an episode this good, though, I'm willing for forgive all of this.

One more substantive question. It has been a while since I read the book. Did Sledge and his team really give up their mortar during the battle? I don't remember that happening, and I'd be surprised if a commander would voluntarily give up mortar support. I wasn't sure if this was a dramatic device or actually occurred.

Again, great episode. The last three or four weeks have really shown what this show is capable of. It's a shame the series got off to such a clumsy start.

Ambaryerno said...

Once again we see inaccuracies though: Stretcher bearers being called in under a field of fire?

Talk about being misinformed. That's EXACTLY what happened. In fact the Japanese deliberately targeted the stretcher-bearers knowing that for every one they killed or put down, another would have to take his place.

Anonymous said...

This series is still not doing it for me. I was mostly bored by this ep. Apart from the gritty battle scenes, it moved at a snail's pace. Everyone sitting around moping, looking forlornly into the distance for most of the time. I get it, war is hell, but this is not a documentary, it's entertainment. There should be am overarching narrative that engages you all the way through.

If it wasn't for the crutch of the opening narration of what they're trying to depict in the episode, you would never know what they're doing and what they're trying to achieve. People complain about Hank's preamble, but it's absolutely needed as the way the stories are told falls far short of informing and engaging the audience.

Anonymous said...

I actually laughed out loud when Sledge realized what the "plunk plunk" sound was.

And the poor guy trying to take a dump in the cave was comedy gold.

I like this series, and actually had family in the first marines at Okinawa, but for me, it is nowhere close to the same league as Band of Brothers. I guess I am missing something. I just don't have the emotional investment this time around.

Also, it seems to skip around from island to island, but really doesn't give a sense of time passing. Maybe if I paid more attention to the dates it would make more sense.

Chuchundra said...

Much better storyline on this episode. The focus on one main character makes for a more coherent and compelling narrative. I think number seven is the best of the lot so far.

It's more than a little annoying how short these episodes are. This episode started late, ended early and with all the intros, outros, last on, next on, etc, I think we got about 35 minutes of actual show.

And I'd would have liked to see more Sadler. After devoting an entire episode to Leckie's non-existent Greek romance, I think they could have stretched things a bit so we could see more Puller.

Anonymous said...

Ambaryerno- I think you must have totally missed the purpose of a corpsman or dropped your common sense off in Pelileu.
The purpose of a corpsman is to come in while fire is going on to stabilize the wounded. The purpose of a stretcher bearer is to take the stabilized soldier to the rear after the fire stops.
There is no way, NO WAY IN THE WORLD, that the stretcher bearers would have been called in while the fight was still hot. That is suicidally stupid.
Could the Japs have targeted the area after laying low for a while? Sure. Could they have used snipers to target stretcher bearers? Absolutely. That's not what was happening here. That's also not was was depicted in Sledge's book. I'm just surprised how inaccurate "The Pacific" is after "Band of Brothers" managed to hit everything so well.

Geoff said...

Other than the moment between Snafu and Sledge, and of course Ack Ack asking for a "wake-up" detail...

The Seabee. Oh lord, how green (blue?) are you, good sir?

No, you don't ask for war spoils from the front line servicemen. You walk out and get it like anyone else.

What kind of response was he expecting? Especially a Navy enlisted asking a Marine? He's lucky he didn't get beat up.

RedBall Express said...

I think this episode was the best yet. I really liked how Sledge stared down that REMF lieutenant when he was looking at the women at the lemonade or juice stand. Priceless. Also, Malek as Snafu continues to be great.

Anonymous said...

I am even less enamored of this series than I was 3 weeks ago.

There is simply no narrative beyond "war is hell" to this series. I'm going to put a stopwatch on last night's episode and determine how much time is spent on close-ups of Sledge's face or some other Marine's face with the "1000 yard stare" meant to symbolize how much the war has altered them from a psychological assessment. All accompanied by a somber and morose score.

I guess what disappoints me most about this series is that all three central characters show the war in the Pacific from just about the same perspective -- the Marine grunt. Basilone is the only one with any rank, but even he was only a relative low-level non-comm.

BOB had the benefit of showing the European theater from multiple perspectives -- Platoon Lt., Company Captain, Medic, First Sergeant, wide-eyed naive Private, and more worldly battle-tested Private. It had a comprehesive narrative that gave you a full perspective on the European theater.

I feel like the Pacific is little more than looking at the Pacific Theater through a telescope, and the only image I see is a Marine Private with mud and dirt on his face.

Alex Mullane said...

That scene between Sledge and Snafu was the best moment of this series by a country mile. Everything about it was exceptional. I agree, the dropping stones will not be leaving my head for quite some time. Malek and Mazello completely sold it - that Sledge was ready to give up the last of his decency and start cutting teeth out, and that Snafu accepted his own lot in proceedings, but still wanted to protect Sledge from giving up and becoming something he wasn't.

Also loved the moment where sledge and co were heading up to the hills and going right past the troops they were replacing. The retiring troops handing cigarettes to their replacements was lovely and haunting - they knew what the replacements were walking in to and wanted to do anything to help.

Didn't like the weird clipshow/flashback bit near the start, but whatever.

Snafu has been a revelation for this series. He's so distinct, and there are clearly layers of compassion beneath his almost psychotic outer shell. If only some of the other comrades to our main three had stood out, even half as much, we might have cared about those earlier episodes more. (I liked them, but they've been totally outclassed and overshadowed by the Peleliu arc).

I hope we will be seeing Leckie again, and I hope the remaining episodes can keep up the quality of the past 3 or 4.

Alex Mullane said...

Oh, and another thing...

That scene where Sledge arrives back on Pavavu and sees the pretty ladies who have volunteered to serve them drinks...

Wow. The look on Mazello's face said so much. Honestly, he was incredible throughout this episode, but as much as in the tooth/germs scene, the look on his face during that scene will not leave my mind.

His look of utter contempt and confusion and disbelief... After all he had been through, some pretty ladies, clean and happy, serving him a cup of juice with a smile and saying "it's nice to see you"... Well, I'd have reacted the exact same way. I pretty much did just watching it!

As if that's what they needed to see at that moment. It was a total slap in the face after everything they'd been through to assume that this is what they would want, that this would suddenly make it all better.

That stare... Damn, this kid should win an Emmy for that alone.

TinMann0715 said...

Best Episode Ever!!! More irrelevant comments later...

Anonymous said...

(plz forgive my poor english)

It is amazing how such a horrible war manages to deliver nothing to me. That's an epic failure.

Even that scene with the pebbles and the skull was indifferent to me. As indifferent as are the "heroes" of the series.
Where we supposed to feel something about the "Skipper" when he got killed?
I felt nothing at all.
How can I connect with them when Skipper as a character was absent? Just because he wad a line or two with Sledge?
Imagine the shock if Winters died in BOB series.

I think that is the problem , I don't care. The production looks perfect but I don't care about the heroes.

Also the "war coverage" is poor. Kind of weird when you know that each episode cost a fortune.
But the description of the battles is really bad. Which is exactly why they have these little documentaries at the beginning.
For example, if they didn't say that the Japanese had a whole network of caves in Peleliu we wouldn't realize how awful this front was just from the episode alone or how bad it was in Puvuvu, etc etc.

Now that I think better about it IMHO "Pacific" has been drowned in the pool of its own ambition and vanity.
They didn't need to describe the whole of the Pacific war, one or two battles would be enough.
Expanding the story less they would had time to tell their stories better and present their heroes better and make the viewers to care.


Instead we got something like a "guided reenact tour" of how horrific the Pacific front was. Impressive but empty.

p.s.
Nice to read that 13yold kids trough Pacific see some of the war horrors. On the other hand this shows the limit of who the series can have impact on.

p.s2.
In "Thin Red Line" only a few minutes of film manage to give me tons of emotions and make me feel the war hell, the part where the Americans defeat the Japanese and reach their camp will be haunting me.

crypticpuzzler said...

From Sledge's book (pp. 140-141, Ballantine edition):
"Everyone in the company took his turn as a stretcher bearer nearly every day. All hands agreed it was backbreaking, perilous work.
My heart pounded from fear and fatigue each time we lifted a wounded man onto a stretcher, raised it, then stumbled and struggled across the rough ground and up and down steep inclines while enemy bullets snapped through the air and ricochets whined and pinged off the rocks. The snipers hit a stretcher bearer on more than one occasion. But luckily, we always managed to drag everybody behind rocks until help came. Frequently enemy mortars added their shells in an effort to stop us."

On another, very trivial note, I can't understand why Sledge never pushes that hank of hair off his face. With such high temps, wouldn't it get on his nerves?

asterisk8 said...

Now I have an answer should someone ask my opinion on the most macabre thing ever broadcast on television. I'll reply without hesitation, "The episode of The Pacific where an American soldier tossed rocks nonchalantly into the bloody soup of a Japanese soldier's open skull.

Anonymous said...

Agree with just about everything posted above. I was just saying to my husband, "I won't be buying this one...." We own BoB and I watch any episode when it pops up on HBO, History Channel, etc. I connected with the characters and the story line. This is just special effects and relentless enemies--the guys in the Pacific did, as Guarnere says, have a worse time of it. Plus there's a lot more dysentery/toilet humor. Ha ha.

Per the comment above, can't even imagine the reaction among the men if something had happened to Dick Winters. He became such a hero to me, both the way Damian Lewis portrayed him and the actual quotes he gave in the interviews. Ack Ack seemed like a good guy who cared about his men, but there wasn't very much buildup of his character.

Schmoker said...

I think that watching the final season of Lost while also watching the Pacific is nudging me to realize that long form television drama is a whole new animal these days.

I never said anything, but like you, Alan, I found the early Sledge scenes slow. And when Sledge got to war, I found myself feeling much the same as Snafu, in that I didn't want to spend time with this newbie at the expense of the men I had been bonded to so far.

Now, I am blown away by Sledge's story, and every scrap of early time he received turns out to have been crucial to making those scenes you mentioned (in particular the one with the women) so powerful. Had I not been witness to early Sledge, the POWER of his stare may have been lost on me.

This is a phenomenon that recurs again and again all across TV these days, where one hour seems weaker until you get to that later hour that is double or triple in intensity and meaning thanks to that earlier, slower hour.

At its best, television is a changed medium. It's like rewatching Lost seasons now in light of what we have learned, or how things in today's episodes are informed by old ones. Writers are taking full advantage of the length of a show these days in a new and exciting way.

I think the days of judging a show as failing or succeeding as an hour of entertainment need to be reconsidered. I'm not saying that you can be bad in any given hour and get away with it, but that it may be time to look at some shows without making overall judgments until they are finished.

Can't think of a better example of this idea than the story of Sledge, which is a strength of the Pacific that you and I both initially thought was a weakness.

DB Cooper said...

Just finished Sledge's book over the weekend.

The stretcher bearer thing is EXACTLY right. Not sure why people are so vehement that it's wrong. You don't leave a wounded man on the battlefield until things cool down.

Haldane's death was also treated realistically. He stuck his head over a ridge and a sniper shot him in the head. That fast.

The Snafu character is a composite of several from the book. The early hazing, pebble-throwing, teeth-pulling, germ lecture, and head-shot all occurred, but were all done by different Marines - none of them the actual Snafu.

It's a necessary dramatic device, I suppose, but does a couple of unintended things: (1) It makes Snafu REALLY odd, almost psychotic. (2) It minimizes the degree to which nearly ALL Marines were warped/damaged/devolved by combat, which was the theme of Sledge's book. It's one thing if one guy did a bunch of sick stuff. But the truth was that nearly everyone was pulling gold teeth, letting Japanese burn, etc.

War is UNIVERSALLY antithical to civilization, says Sledge, who's been there. To a slight degree, the show misses that particular point.

Matt Maul said...

I took Snafu's shooting of the Japanese soldier getting his teeth cut out while still alive as more of a reaction to Sledge's angry admonishments than actual compassion. After Sledge is shown helping him up during a previous battlefield charge, Snafu seems somewhat deferential/protective of him (starting with giving him a neat nickname “Sledgehammer”).

I’d concur with DB’s point about the composite character, Snafu.

It minimizes the degree to which nearly ALL Marines were warped/damaged/devolved by combat, which was the theme of Sledge's book.

When Sledge first arrives on the island, Gunny and Snafu create a vibe that is MUCH more unnerving for the viewer than anything depicted in Band of Brothers. But as it unfolds, it’s mainly those two characters which display such behavior. This does undercut the aforementioned atmosphere established earlier.

SNAFU said...

Toeknee said...

"the bit of Sledge ticking off the days didn't ring true - maybe I'm remembering it wrong, but it seemed like he'd add several tick marks at once, instead of one a day, which is the actual way I'd imagine it being done."

This would be true is Eugene was keeping one large note that served as a calendar, but rather he kept multiple small sheets with his thoughts on that day. So on day 25(!) He needs to mark off 25 at a time, before his obsevations on "Fear and filth" Then the next day he'd mark off 26 and write his thoughts...

Stuart said...

Like DB Cooper, I too recently finished Sledge's book. However, I'm not entirely sure that the fascinating "angel of death" character of Meriell "Snafu" Shelton (Rami Malek) is actually a composite of several Marines from Eugene Sledge's memory, or if all the things Snafu does in the mini-series are actually things the real-life Shelton did.

I'm guessing on the latter. Here's why:

--The producers of the series would have, most likely, had access to Sledge's original notes/drafts (his original manuscript was 800 pages!), and not just the finished book, like we poor sods.

--In the book, finished in 1980, Sledge often refers to many participants vaguely: as in "my buddy in the next foxhole", or "a marine". (Unfortunately, I just lent the book to a friend of mine, so cannot refer to it at this moment!) Is this Sledge being forgetful? Unlikely.

--Sledge was a decent, thoughtful man. He may have been sparing Snafu's reputation 40 years after the fact by not attributing certain acts directly to Snafu, for the sake of his old comrade's family.

--It is clear in the text of Sledge's book that Sledge genuinely admired Snafu's ability as a combat soldier, respected him at great deal ... but you also get a vibe from the book that Sledge also sort of feared Snafu. (Later, Sledge was quoted as referring to Snafu as "the meanest son of a gun" he ever knew, and also that "I loved him to death, because he saved me many a time."

--The outstanding actor Rami Malek was also quoted in an interview, saying: "Shelton is mentioned in the book ... The things that happen in the movie, we aren't 100 percent sure he did them." (quite vague, just like Sledge himself). Not 100 percent? Probably pretty damn close.

At any rate, I agree the Snafu character is probably the most fascinating in the series. In Band of Brothers, the same producers used composites characters and at times, made up events for cinematic effect -- but it's my feeling Malek's portrayal of Snafu is pretty darn close to the real Marine. Sledge and Shelton are both deceased now, it's likely we may never know.

There is one more clue in Hugh Ambrose's book, "The Pacific", which carries two pictures of the real Snafu. The first, young Snafu's USMC mugshot from the National Records Center, looks chillingly like Malek's portrayal -- a cold-blooded killer. In the second picture, at a reunion with the aged Sledge in 1980, you see Shelton, a dapper old gentleman in suit and tie, but with still the same hard look in his eyes.

Surely not a man to be messed with, and props to Malek for such a compelling performance in an obviously tricky role.

Anonymous said...

Sledge was a decent, thoughtful man. He may have been sparing Snafu's reputation 40 years after the fact by not attributing certain acts directly to Snafu, for the sake of his old comrade's family.

He might have, but it is rather at odds with the honesty with which he recounted the actions of other men he served with.

We know the "germs" conversation wasn't with Snafu, but rather with one of the company's Corpsmen, Doc Jay.

It remains to be seen whether Lt. Mac will be a character in pts. 9 and 10, but Sledge certainly didn't spare any honesty in recounting his deeds. It will be interesting to see if the show will have the courage to show someone shooting off a dead Japanese soldier's penis, or routinely pissing in the mouths of Japanese corpses.

So far, I've been underwhelmed with The Pacific's willingness to accurately portray the level of hatred and animosity that existed between the Marines and the Japanese during the war. I think DB Cooper's on point when says

It's a necessary dramatic device, I suppose, but does a couple of unintended things: (1) It makes Snafu REALLY odd, almost psychotic. (2) It minimizes the degree to which nearly ALL Marines were warped/damaged/devolved by combat, which was the theme of Sledge's book. It's one thing if one guy did a bunch of sick stuff. But the truth was that nearly everyone was pulling gold teeth, letting Japanese burn, etc.

Leckie, for example, recounts one Marine, know as "Souvenir" who carried a pouch with Japanese gold teeth that he had been collecting since Guadalcanal and who went so far as to purchase dentist's tools in Australia to assist in the process, so the series could have broached the subject much earlier (and presented the behavior as a more widespread occurrence) if they had wanted to.