The Greatest Documentary

In the mid-1990s, 50 years after the end of World War II, the American essayist Lee Sandlin asked friends what they knew about the conflict. To his surprise, “Nobody could tell me the first thing about it. Once they got past who won they almost drew a blank. All they knew were those big totemic names—Pearl Harbor, D day, Auschwitz, Hiroshima—whose unfathomable reaches of experience had been boiled down to an abstract atrocity. The rest was gone. . . . What had happened, for instance, at one of the war’s biggest battles, the Battle of Midway? It was in the Pacific, there was something about aircraft carriers. Wasn’t there a movie about it, one of those Hollywood all-star behemoths in which a lot of admirals look worried while pushing toy ships around a map?” For Sandlin, this broad ignorance demonstrated “how vast the gap is between the experience of war and the experience of peace . . . . Nobody back home has ever known much about what it was like on the battlefield.”

  • Some documentaries stand the test of time.

    • This one really does, it is as good as described.

      • El Martyachi

        It was good, but it coulda used more trannies.

        • Ed Wood filled that role!

          On a personal level, Wood was exceedingly complex. He was born on October 10, 1924 in Poughkeepsie, New York, where he lived most of his childhood. He joined the US Marine Corps in 1943 World War II and was, by all accounts, an exemplary soldier, wounded in ferocious combat in the Pacific theater in WW II. Conversely, he claimed to have been wearing a bra and panties under his uniform during a military landing.

          • El Martyachi

            Don’t you think angora has a certain tactile sensuality lacking in all other fabrics?

          • Personally I never turn down a chance to feel up some angora.

          • Alain

            You do know that angora is a breed of goats?

          • Don’t tell Butterfly.

          • It’s also a breed of cat.

          • Minicapt
          • Exile1981

            All angora comes from a breed of rabbits.

            Only the fur from rabbits can be marketted as angora, the goat hair is marketed as mohair.

          • Alain

            Yes, I am aware of that, but the fact remains that there is a goat breed Angora.

          • El Martyachi

            That’s a great IMDB bio thanks. In a perfect world we’d all be typing this in Plan 9 OS. Just sayin’.

      • jack burns

        Where did you get this picture? May or may not be propaganda but the effect is stunning.

  • simus1

    American forces in the Pacific were lucky early on when it really counted at Midway and Guadalcanal.
    The Japanese had landed massive amounts of rations on Guadalcanal to give them more flexibility later on in their other activities in theatre . The US barely trained marines who were essentially landed and cast adrift with minimal support could not have kept going without their access to captured food and safe liquid refreshment (beer).

  • All Too Much
  • tom_billesley

    To too many people, “never again” in practice means “next time we’ll submit” instead of “hell no”.