Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hell In The Pacific (1968)

Dir: John Boorman

Even though this is my third entry on the films of John Boorman, I've watched 6 so far and the main thing I can say about his early films is that they are about genre deconstruction. Every film is technically a genre film; Zardoz is sci-fi, Point Blank crime, Deliverance a thriller, and Hell in the Pacific is a World War II movie, but with those broad genre tags you would have no idea what kind of film you were actually about to see. With Hell in the Pacific we're not even explicitly told that it is set during WWII. This is one of the many strengths of the film as we are never given any real information on anything. The story begins with two men, Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune (what a cast!), stranded on an island with shredded uniforms and nothing else. Their relationship starts contentious enough with the two trying to kill each other over some fresh water. The attempts are half-hearted enough and after some back and forth power plays, the two start to form a bond for mutual survival. I am always interested in films that can express drama and tell their story without relying on dialog. This is a prime example as the only two characters in the film don't speak each others language and there is never a foolish attempt to magically make them understand one another. My only complaint is the very abrupt and silly ending that I would have to imagine was not Boorman's idea. The only special feature on the disc is an "alternate ending" that I now imagine in my mind to be the real ending. The disc is not anamorphic, which is quite a shame, it's also one of the only early Boorman films that he doesn't provide audio commentary on.


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