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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > World War II > Political > Victory In The Pacific (PBS)

Victory In The Pacific (PBS Home Video)


Picture: C+     Sound: B-     Extras: C+     Documentary: B



One of the most important installments of the PBS/WGBH series American Experience has been issued by PBS Home Video/Paramount and is the program that best-yet recreates just how dire and disturbing the final months of World War II were.  Victory In The Pacific (2005) covers how difficult the Nazis were, but how much tougher, hysterical and radical Japan and Japanese Militarism was.  This leads up to the decision to use the then-new weapon of the Atom Bomb.


Of course, dropping bombs is a bad thing, especially when they are nuclear.  The victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are mourned often and for good reason, especially because no one ever wants to see that happen again.  However, too much dangerous revisionist history has been introduced in recent years that make the United States look like the aggressor and only aggressor.  What this program does is show how ugly things still were, how Japan was never going to surrender unless the U.S. used the bombs (Japan thought the U.S. only had one) and how it proves the U.S. has had to deal with terrorism before.


Even after the first bomb, Emperor Hirohito was not going to relinquish power and even negotiated terms of surrender that were so out of touch with reality that the madness that marked their Militarism blinded them at least as much as it did Hitler.  It was only after the second bombing that they finally just began to realize the wart and their drive was over.  Even when this happened, Hirohito was still in denial as defined by his very different first-time radio addresses to the Japanese people and Japanese troops.  He hid behind everything from the Soviet threat to anything else but the reality that The Allies had sent he war to the end.


Yes, innocent civilians died, but it was their misguided government who gave the U.S. no choice.  The alternatives included allowing Japanese Militarism stay in tact, allowing the Soviets to make half or all of Japan Communist and allowing hundreds of thousands equally innocent Americans would have been tortured and killed in combat trying to take the island with much less of a guarantee of victory.  That the bombs had to be dropped should instead be a reminder of how ugly the situation was, and time has proven and vindicated America did the right thing, no matter how ugly, nightmarish or terrible.  Victory In The Pacific is free of dangerous political correctness that PBS is too often accused of, while showing once again the value of thorough, detailed journalism.  What a great title to have on DVD.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 x 1/16 X 9 image looks good and originated in digital High Definition, but some of the older footage is just a bit rough and detail in general is sometimes limited.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has good Pro Logic surrounds that make the stories and facts very engaging.  Extras are more than usual here, including a brief piece on dropping the bomb that last about 10 minutes (though our copy accidentally repeated the final minutes) and a government film narrated by then-actor Ronald Reagan from 1945 called Target Tokyo is on black and white, runs about a half-hour, is 1.33 x 1 and is in decent shape.  Cheers to writer/director Austin Hoyt for such a fine main program.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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