HBO’s epic miniseries The Pacific will premiere on April 3

Tom Hanks (upper frame, left) and Steven Spielberg (right) reunite as executive producers of HBO’s $200-million production titled The Pacific. Based on the true stories of World War II marines, this 10-part miniseries will air on HBO starting April 3, 2010.

Starting April 3, HBO will offer 10 heart-pounding episodes of The Pacific that promise to present the "human cost of war." A special two-episode will premiere on April 3 and a new episode will be aired every Saturday at 9 p.m.

Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, and Gary Goetzman—the creative team behind Band of Brothers—reunite to serve as executive producers of the most expensive HBO original miniseries, which reportedly cost $200 million (approximately Php 9.14 billion).

This new epic miniseries was shot on location in Australia’s Far North Queensland and Victoria over 10 months. To create its realistic setting, 62,000 tons of excavated earth built the battlefields, and painted black for the Iwo Jima set were 80 tons of white sand. Cast to portray the thousands of soldiers who went into battle during the war were 26,000 extras.

Last March 17, members of the press, including PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) were invited to tour Corregidor to grace the media launch of HBO’s The Pacific.

Known locally as The Rock, Corregidor was the nerve center of military operations during World War II. It is famous for the Malinta Tunnel, which is the last stronghold of the joint Philippine and American military forces. What used to be the massive underground headquarters and supplies storage area for the military is now the site of a light and sound presentation that captures the horrors of war.

While walking inside the 253-meter-long tunnel, our tour guide pointed out a darkened spot within Malinta Tunnel. Apparently, this was where Japanese soldiers committed suicide by detonating explosives during the re-taking of the island by U.S. forces in February 1945. This kind of sacrifice shows just how strongly the Japanese believe in Bushido, death before dishonor.

As we toured the Pacific War Memorial in Corregidor, we saw the names of Guadalcanal and Peleliu inscribed in the marble structures. Just moments before, these same names were mentioned in The Making of The Pacific as decisive battles that greatly affected the outcome of World War II.

In the behind-the-scenes video showed by HBO, Steven Spielberg explained why they decided to do another miniseries about World War II. "When Tom Hanks and I first decided to adapt Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers into a miniseries, I remember thinking at the time that it would also be great to pay tribute to the veterans of the Pacific theater of operations.

"My father and my uncle, who both fought in the Pacific, had the same idea, and after Saving Private Ryan came out and Band of Brothers played on HBO, they asked, ’What about the boys on the other side of the Atlantic? You’re celebrating all those guys from Europe! We did something too!’

"We also got many letters from veterans congratulating us on those projects, but asking for recognition for their efforts, too. Veterans from Peleliu, Pavuvu, Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, the Solomons, Wake Island, Midway," the renowned director pointed out.

This new miniseries is quite different from Band of Brothers since it followed the experiences of one company of Army paratroopers in the European theater of operations. This time, The Pacific depicts the war in the Pacific theater of operations, which encompassed most of the Pacific Ocean and its islands, including the Philippines, the Netherlands East Indies, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

This HBO original miniseries follows the intersecting lives of three men in the 1st Marine Division: an infantry division nicknamed "The Old Breed" for its position as the oldest and largest active duty division of the U.S. Marine Corps.

These three men are:

1. James Badge Dale as Robert Leckie
Private First Class Robert Leckie grew up in New Jersey and was a professional sportswriter. He enlisted in the Marine Corps just after Pearl Harbor as a machine gunner.

2. Jon Seda as John Basilone
Sgt. John Basilone was raised in New Jersey and he enlisted in the U.S. Army when he was 18 years old. Interestingly enough, it will be mentioned in Episode 1 that John Basilone served for some time in the Philippines where he was a champion boxer. After a brief return to New Jersey, he enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1940 and became a machine gunner. He eventually received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.

3. Joe Mazzello as Eugene Sledge
Private First Class Eugene Sledge came from a privileged family in Alabama. A heart condition kept Sledge from enlisting until December 1942. As the son of a physician, he was urged by his family to train as an officer but he eventually signed up to be a mortar man.

In a press release, executive producer Tom Hanks sums up the plot of the show by saying, "The miniseries focuses on three guys: Eugene Sledge, Robert Leckie and John Basilone. Each of them gives a very different perspective of what it was like to join the Marines and to fight in the Pacific...So we followed these three guys and their very different perspectives, from December of 1941, deep into 1946."


After the war, Sledge and Leckie wrote their memoirs that eventually became the basis of The Pacific. Eugene penned With the Old Breed, published in 1981, while Leckie wrote Helmet for My Pillow, which was published in 1957.

Based on these true stories of World War II marines, this 10-part miniseries will air on HBO starting April 3, 2010. Encores of each episode will air on Sundays at 8 pm and Mondays at 10 pm.





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