Band of Brothers & The Pacific: Special Edition Gift Set [Blu-Ray]

Band of Brothers & The Pacific: Special Edition Gift Set [Blu-Ray]
Both unrelenting in their frantic, chaotic depiction of wartime battles, showing young soldiers shot in mid-sentence, panicked by the constant gunfire and explosions at all angles, HBO miniseries Band of Brothers and The Pacific complement each other's strengths and weaknesses as binaries, appealing to different types of viewers despite presenting the same structures and themes. Band of Brothers is the more practical and stoic of the two, caring less about characterization than the war as a propelling entity unto itself. The violence is brutal: limbs are ripped off mid-battle, tanks trample soldiers and bloodied bodies litter the battlefield, constantly reminding us of the horrors of combat. Since it's based on actual accounts from historian Steven Ambrose, bringing to life the experiences of Easy Company (506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division) as they battle their way through Europe, from D-Day to VE-Day and beyond, the draining, perpetual bombardment of it all holds much gravity through sheer immersion and duration. And as they liberate a Nazi concentration camp and capture Hitler's Eagle's Nest at Berchtesgaden, our awareness of both the horrors and significance of those who died for freedom expands with gut wrenching awe. The main criticism of this ten-part miniseries is that of individual identification, since familiar narrative connective tropes are almost completely absent from the story. The Pacific, on the other hand, works quite hard to humanize and differentiate each of its Marines throughout various battles during WWII in the titular Pacific with the Japanese. Moving from Guadalcanal to Peleliu to Okinawa (and everywhere in between), this series embraces the clichés of the war story, acknowledging loved ones left behind, frustrating military politics and shore leave romances with saccharine whimsy. While these storylines can detract from the technical wonder, intensity and horrifying spectacle of the battles on display, the humanity eventually benefits in later episodes when each Marine starts to break down in his own way, feeling the existential weight of emotional and spiritual exhaustion. Since this is a special edition gift set, featuring both series in gorgeous HD, all the special features included with the individual releases are present, along with exclusive documentary He Has Seen War, which provides even more interview footage and historical context, capturing not only thoughts on the war, but the notion of rebuilding and reacquainting. And, of course, the original docs, "We Stand Alone Together," "Anatomy of the Pacific War" and the extended "Making of" supplements are included, rounding out the interactive field guide and picture-in-picture commentary included with each set. For anyone not yet familiar with these series, or anyone that has yet to revisit them with all the bells and whistles, this set is an absolute must-have. (Warner)