Pearl Harbor is a classic tale of romance set during a war that complicates everything. It all starts when childhood friends Rafe and Danny become Army Air Corps pilots and meet Evelyn, a Navy nurse. Rafe falls head over heels and he and Evelyn and Rafe hook up. Then Rafe volunteers to go fight in Britain, and Evelyn and Danny get transferred to Pearl Harbor. While Rafe is off fighting, suddenly one morning comes the air raid we now know as "Pearl Harbor."Written by
A prime target of the Pearl Harbor attack was the four aircraft carriers that were based there. Fortunately, they, along with the other ships in their carrier groups, were out to sea at the time. See more »
Just after the Japanese attack and the shot cuts to the airfield where they all are gearing up to fight them in the air, there is a shot of two guys on a roof of a building that are shooting the Japanese planes. They get shot and fall down, but in the following shot you can see they have come back to life. See more »
Right up front, let me confess to having been a World War II nut since early childhood. You may thus understand the depths of my disappointment with this movie. I believe Roger Ebert said it best: "The Japanese attack an American love triangle." I find it inexcusable that such a pivotal event in history, and one as well documented from just about all angles, can come in for such slipshod treatment at the hands of moviemakers, but I guess I shouldn't be too surprised. Just let down.
If the producers can expend so much time, money and effort to make everything look big and splashy, why not go the extra 1/4 mile and make it look *right*? Spielberg managed it for Saving Private Ryan, even with the somewhat far-fetched plot device. Flaws abound, and have been pointed out in great depth elsewhere (the most glaring are the guided missile frigates in the harbor, the off-scale appearance of the Oklahoma as she capsizes (with an impossible torpedo hole in her starboard side, which was shielded by the Maryland *and* Ford Island), no mention of Nevada's dramatic attempt to get underway and subsequent beaching, etc).
To my legion of fellow critics I say, "read your history before trashing the 'token black' Dorie Miller subplot". Ship's Cook 3rd Miller did, in fact, give aid and comfort to West Virginia's dying captain, did, in fact, man a machine gun for 15 minutes (during which he believed he shot down a Japanese plane) and was, in fact, the first black recipient of the Navy Cross (awarded in early 1942 by Admiral Nimitz). Aside from the mistaken coffee-service bit (he was actually bagging laundry at the time) that was one of the things the producers got *right*.
Focusing on the Dolittle Raid, I saw only lost opportunities - how Dolittle convinced his superiors to let him fly, the fates of the crews (who flew solo rather than in formation and were scattered all over the place afterwards) and Dolittle's dejection at the "failed" raid and his subsequent accolades... all of this was jettisoned as the producers got out the Ritz crackers and Velveeta and went for the cheesy, contrived, convenient resolution of the *important* part of the movie, that cockamamie love triangle.
In sum, so many opportunities, so little follow through. Rent "In Harm's Way" for schmaltz, and "Tora Tora Tora" for the attack itself. Better yet, snag a copy of "At Dawn We Slept", and read up on the historical tapestry that this movie never really touched.
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