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Hell in the Pacific [DVD] (1968)
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A US Marine pilot (Lee Marvin) and a Japanese Naval officer (Toshiro Mifune) find themselves marooned on the same island in the middle of World War II. The pair's first impulse is to continue the wartime struggle and engage each other in a battle to the death, but they soon realise that their chances for survival will be much stronger if they work together. Can they suspend their mutual hatred long enough to begin the struggle against the hostile island environment or will their wish to destroy each other win out? John Boorman directs.
Hell in the Pacific is one of the most original and thoughtful war films of the 1960s. Fresh from Point Blank (1967) Lee Marvin reunited with director John Boorman for this elemental story of a US pilot and a Japanese naval officer washed ashore on an otherwise uninhabited Pacific island. Lee Marvin speaks English; Toshiro Mifune (The Seven Samurai) speaks Japanese; and the audience shares their frustrations as they attempt to communicate, as Boorman does not use subtitles. Once the men become aware of each other's presence they move from wary avoidance through conflict to an uneasy truce as they realise they will have to cooperate to survive. The naturalistic acting is key to the film's success, greatly aided by the fact that both stars served their respective countries in the Pacific theatre during the Second World War. Conrad Hall's cinematography is superb, using natural light to evoke the beauty of the island, and the wide Panavision frame to show the men's isolation and their reactions to each another. Boorman developed further his fascination with man against nature in Deliverance (1974) and The Emerald Forest (1985), and there wouldn't be another poetic war film until Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line (1999).
On the DVD: The stereo sound is fine, atmospherically reproducing both the natural sounds of the island and Lalo Schfrin's imaginative score. The picture quality likewise is very good, with the image well focused with strong colours and plenty of detail. Unfortunately the 2.35:1 image has been panned and scanned to 1.33:1 TV ratio, destroying the scale and beauty of the compositions and sometimes meaning the viewer sees only one side of the interactions between the two men. Extras are perfunctory, with production notes, biographies of the stars and a "slide show". Considering even BBC2 occasionally shows the film in near full Pavavision and with Boorman's preferred, TS Elliot inspired ending, this DVD is a lost opportunity to bring a modern classic into the digital age. --Gary S Dalkin
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on 17 February 2010
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This an intriguing film where the characters different races could also represent the dramatic consequences of different outlooks as well as pragmatic competition for ethnic territory where the individuals are each a national microcosm...As such,it is also about loneliness and the common humanity thereof in contrast to the ideal opportunities and real hostility of impersonal Nature that hosts their dual fractious presence on the island that effectively cages them both-Unlike many anglospheric films this one does not fudge the language issue and almost comes across as a silent film or one about two animals with little similarity...The issue of survival becomes one of supremacy but an alliance is inevitable under the circumstances ...there are other versions but this one is better than than later transposed efforts like Enemy Mine,and its lame sentimentalism...Then again,the subject could have happened and I also recommend reading Shoohei Ooka's Fires on the Plain,also available as a film,I believe...The end is itself a reminder of the equality of mortality,a mortality that war artificially hastens then much as now...The cast of two plus Nature as a neutral leafy backdrop much like an aristocratic female overlooking the bloody cavaliers does allow a simple study of Man bereft of civilization and also of His tribes and therein is another warning for those for whom the tribe is an expendable burden and the world merely humane and nature an expendable theatre for war itself along with its peoples.
on 5 March 2015
Format: VHS TapeVerified Purchase
I ordered DVD and received VHS which I cannot play total useless and time consuming for inefficiency.
on 19 October 2003
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Not a film about war but about humanity. You actually feel the relief as these two find a little civilisation and eventually sit down to tea together. But reality, like Harry Angels debt in Angel heart, cannot be cheated. There is another ending to this film, which I wish had been included on the DVD, but maybe that will come in for the 'Directors cut' re-release. The humour is all Marvin's, an especially funny bit is when it sort of rains on the other guy, you need to see it. Don't be put off by the title or the fact it takes place during wartime, it's more than that.
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Most recent customer reviews
Two opposing warriors marooned on a Pacific isle must learn to trust each other and communicate without a common language if they are to survive and possibly escape their plight.Read more
Arrived on time and all that but the picture quality is crappy and not what the film should look like. I can't watch it. Don't get it if you value cinematography.
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