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Pearl Harbor (film)

Pearl Harbor is a 2001 war film directed by Michael Bay. It features a large ensemble cast, including Ben Affleck, Alec Baldwin, Jon Voight, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale, Cuba Gooding Jr., Dan Aykroyd, Jaime King, and Jennifer Garner. It is a dramatic re-imagining of the attack on Pearl Harbor, produced by the team of Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer, who had previously worked on summer mega-blockbusters as Armageddon and The Rock. The final section of the movie recounts the Doolittle Raid, the first American attack on the Japanese home islands in World War II. Some scenes in the movie were some of the last to be filmed in Technicolor.

Plot

Rafe and Danny, both in their early twenties and First Lieutenants in the U.S. Army, are at a U.S. Army Air Corps training field commanded by Major Jimmy Doolittle (Alec Baldwin). Rafe is very cocky as he and Danny do a particularly dangerous stunt (a game of chicken) that almost kills them (and more importantly to the brass, almost damages the aircraft), impressing the pilots on ground but making the commanding officer unhappy. They are called into Doolittle's office where they are reprimanded, but Doolittle is actually quite impressed with Rafe as he reminds him of himself when he was young. Later, Doolittle tells Rafe that he has been accepted to go to Britain and join Eagle Squadron, a squadron of volunteer American pilots serving with the Royal Air Force in the fight against the Germans. It is strictly a volunteer assignment, and Doolittle tells him it's his duty to talk him out of it. Rafe asks Doolittle what he would do, and Doolittle says he would go, so Rafe agrees to go as well.

Prior to Rafe leaving, there is a big dance in New York, and many nurses are coming to the event. Some of the nurses are traveling there by train, and one of them, Evelyn Johnson (Kate Beckinsale), is telling the other nurses how she first met Rafe while assessing his fitness to fly. As Rafe is dyslexic, he has difficulty reading the letters on the eye chart correctly. He would have failed the vision test had Evelyn not felt sorry and passed him anyway. During his flu shots, she first agreed to go out with him, and they have been going out now for four weeks and two days. At the dance, Rafe tells Evelyn that in the morning he is headed off to England. They have a tearful good-bye, and Rafe tells her not to come to the train station to see him off. He goes to England, and Evelyn, Danny and the other officers get transferred to Pearl Harbor.

Rafe comes to the RAF aerodrome to report for duty and to receive his aircraft (which is a Supermarine Spitfire covered in blood from the previous pilot with the officer commenting on how he died). Back in Hawaii, Danny, Evelyn and their friends enjoy the surf and sun. By now, Rafe writes to Evelyn on how he misses her and how it's hard making friends at the base with all of them getting killed. Evelyn writes back saying how she misses him and hopes he comes back one day. In Japan meanwhile, Admiral Yamamoto plans the attack on Pearl Harbor after the United States freezes its trade. He sends fake codes to confuse U.S. Intelligence and shows some staff his new torpedo invention that the aircraft would use during the attack.

Back in England one day, Rafe's squadron is alerted and scrambled to intercept some German Heinkel He 111s and Bf 109s. At first Rafe shows off his flying skills by helping his wingmate in partially blowing up a Heinkel and shoots down two Bf 109s escorts until his wingmate warns him that another Bf 109 is on his tail. The Bf 109 shoots up Rafe's Spitfire hitting his oil hoses which sets his cockpit on fire then finishes him off with another burst. Rafe attempts to bail out only to be stuck in the cockpit when the canopy jams and the aircraft hits the English Channel. In Hawaii, both Danny and Evelyn are informed that Rafe is presumed killed in action.

This leaves both of them mourning for Rafe along with their friends who knew him. Evelyn continues to mourn for him. Three months later while separately going to the same movie, Danny and Evelyn see a newsreel that shows British fighters being shot down by the Germans. Thinking of Rafe, both Danny and Evelyn leave the theater and by accident meet each other out front of the building. They strike up a friendship again which eventually leads to a romantic after-hours flight.

Evelyn has stopped mourning Rafe, but one morning after discovering she is pregnant, she is stunned to find Rafe. As it turned out, after he crashed into the English Channel, the impact meant he could escape, and he was rescued by a French fishing boat and returned to occupied France for three months where he couldn't get word out to them that he was alive. Suddenly Danny appears, holding a telegram saying that Rafe is alive. Rafe realizes that Danny and Evelyn are now together and leaves, refusing to talk to Danny.

After a bar fight, Danny and Rafe argue and eventually drive to a hillside to discuss what they are going to do about their situation. After talking with Danny, Rafe realizes that if he had in fact died that Danny would be the one he would want Evelyn with. They are awakened the next morning by Japanese Zero fighters, Val dive bombers and Kate torpedo bombers flying overhead. The barely-awake pilots think it is the U.S. Navy performing exercises.

The Japanese attack catches the U.S. fleet largely unaware, despite Admiral Kimmel having been informed of a Japanese midget submarine destroyed near the entrance to the harbor. Much of the surprise came not from a lack of awareness of the aircraft, but a radar station dismissing the large number of contacts as a flight of B-17s. Only one officer is suspicious, calling the group "a heck of a lot of B-17s." A bomb dropped from a Kate bomber ruptures the forward part of the USS Arizona's ammunition magazine, literally splitting the ship in half and sending it to the bottom. Meanwhile, Japanese fighters are attacking the airstrips present on the island to prevent any attempt to intercept the attack aircraft. Petty Officer Doris "Dorie" Miller (Cuba Gooding Jr.), a cook on the USS West Virginia, mans an antiaircraft gun and manages to shoot down a Japanese aircraft. Around the same time, Evelyn, Sandra, Betty and the other nurses head towards the hospital to help injured people. On their way they are strafed, and many people flee into the hospital while some are killed. The gunfire forces Evelyn and Sandra to hide behind a fountain. Suddenly, an aircraft drops a bomb, and Betty is killed while the other women hide in the hospital.

Later, Evelyn and the other nurses are working frantically with masses of incoming casualties, having to prioritize which lives can be saved and who receives priority care (triage). Rafe and Danny make it to their Army auxiliary airfield, and together with another pilot (Joe) manage to get their aircraft moving, though Joe is killed and his aircraft wrecked a few seconds after getting off the ground. The two of them shoot down seven Japanese aircraft over the Harbor. They even use the same maneuver that got them into trouble at Doolittle's school to force four Zeros to crash into each other.

The attack finally ends, and because of their heroism, Rafe and Danny are both promoted to Captain and assigned to Doolittle (now promoted to Lt. Col) for a top secret mission. Prior to leaving, a heartbroken Rafe apologizes to Evelyn for leaving her, and asks why she wants to see him. She reveals that she is pregnant, but has not yet told Danny so he can focus on his mission. She also says that she is going to go with Danny, but deep down inside she will always love Rafe just as much. When Rafe and Danny leave, Evelyn and Danny kiss and she tells him that she loves him and will be waiting for him.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Jon Voight) wants to send a message that the Japanese homeland is not immune from bombing. They are going to put Army Air Corps B-25 Mitchell bombers onto the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (instead of the usual light naval assault bombers), sail out close to Japan, take off a few hundred miles offshore, bomb Tokyo and land in China.

For the next five or six weeks, Rafe and Danny are in training, learning how to fly these aircraft, and most importantly, learn how to take off in such a short space more suited to launching fighters and light-strike aircraft. To achieve this, the aircraft are stripped of any unnecessary weight. Finally, they load the aircraft onto the aircraft carrier and head off towards Japan. The Hornet and her escorts are discovered by Japanese patrol boats, and have to take off a couple of hundred miles earlier than planned. They now know that they won't have enough fuel to get their original landing point in China and will instead have to land their aircraft earlier than planned.

They bomb Tokyo as planned and limp towards China, running out of fuel. Rafe crash lands his aircraft, but is caught by elements of the Imperial Japanese Army which are assigned to the invasion of China. Just as he is about to be shot by the Japanese, Danny comes flying down, shooting the Japanese soldiers, with forward-mounted machine guns as he crashes his aircraft, too.

The two, along with a few other men are confronted by more Japanese soldiers, and after a small gunfight, they are captured. Danny is dying but is tied to a board attached to his shoulders. Rafe is about to be shot when suddenly Danny takes his board and whacks the Japanese soldier, protecting Rafe, just as Rafe had done for him when they were younger and the Japanese open fire, shooting Danny twice in the chest before Gooz finishes them off with a hand grenade. Danny's wounds are mortal, though, and as he lays dying in Rafe's arms, Rafe tells him he can't die because he is going to be a father. Danny tells him no, because he is going to have to be the father of his child.

Later, the surviving Doolittle Raiders are seen coming off the aircraft. Now visibly pregnant, Evelyn is there waiting to see who gets off. Rafe appears, and she is elated but waits to see if Danny is next. A somber Rafe then reaches back inside and helps carry out the coffin containing Danny's remains. A few years later, Rafe, Evelyn and their son Danny, who is named in honor of his father and their best friend, are back at the farm in Tennessee overlooking Danny's grave. Rafe then asks little Danny if he would like to go flying, and an excited Danny points to the crop duster aircraft and, together, Rafe and little Danny fly off into the sunset.

Cast

As appearing in screen credits (main roles identified):
Actor Role Position or affiliation
Ben Affleck Lt./Capt. Rafe McCawley U.S. Army Air Corps
Josh Hartnett Lt./Capt. Danny Walker U.S. Army Air Corps
Kate Beckinsale Nurse Lt. Evelyn Johnson U.S. Navy Nurse Corps
Cuba Gooding Jr. Po3. Doris Miller U.S. Navy
Jon Voight Franklin D. Roosevelt President of the United States
Alec Baldwin Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle U.S. Army Air Corps
Tom Sizemore Sgt. Earl Sistern U.S. Army Air Corps
William Lee Scott Lt. Billy Thompson U.S. Army Air Corps
Greg Zola Lt. Anthony Fusco U.S. Army Air Corps
Ewen Bremner Lt. "Red" Winkle U.S. Army Air Corps
Jaime King Nurse Betty Bayer U.S. Navy Nurse Corps
Catherine Kellner Nurse Barbara U.S. Navy Nurse Corps
Jennifer Garner Nurse Sandra U.S. Navy Nurse Corps
Sara Rue Nurse Martha U.S. Navy Nurse Corps
Michael Shannon Lt. "Gooz" Wood U.S. Army Air Corps
Dan Aykroyd Capt. Thurman Office of Naval Intelligence
Colm Feore Adm. Husband E. Kimmel U.S. Navy
Mako Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto Imperial Japanese Navy
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa Cmdr. Minoru Genda Imperial Japanese Navy

Production

Sangam

This movie was loosley based on a movie named Sangam (1964 film) from Bollywood. It was made by actor/director Raj Kapoor.

Depiction of historical events

Many Pearl Harbor survivors dismissed the film as grossly inaccurate and pure Hollywood.

The movie was also criticized for the way it "distinguished Americans from Japanese, including the wearing of black clothes, the lack of a social life, family, or friends, and the devotion to warring, juxtaposing these with the portraits of Americans.

The roles that the two male leads played by Affleck and Hartnett have in the attack sequence are analogous to the real historical deeds of U.S. Army Air Corps Second Lieutenants George Welch and Kenneth M. Taylor, who took to the skies during the Japanese attack and, together, claimed six Japanese aircraft and a few probables; however, the movie itself makes no mention of or allusion to Welch's and Taylor's existence in history, and the movie's plot involving the leads, aside from their roles in the attack sequence, does not match any other historical account of Welch or Taylor. Some critics consider the presence of the two fictional main characters in their steads a blatant usurpation of the true historical figures' roles. This point, when coupled with what many critics feel is an arbitrary and ill-conceived love triangle plot involving the fictional replacements, led to the accusation that Pearl Harbor as an abuse of artistic licence.

Taylor, who died in November 2006, previously declared the film adaptation "a piece of trash... over-sensationalized and distorted".

Inaccuracies

Like many historical dramas, Pearl Harbor provoked debate about the artistic license taken by its producers and director. National Geographic Channel produced a documentary called Beyond the Movie: Pearl Harbor which covers some of the ways that "the film's final cut didn't reflect all the attacks' facts, or represent them all accurately."

Historical inaccuracies found in the film include, but are not limited to:

Early childhood sequences

  • Stearman biplane was produced during the mid-1930s while the opening scene of the film is set in 1923.

Eagle Squadron sequences

  • Later mark Supermarine Spitfires were used in the Battle of Britain sequences. The original plan was to use a highly-inappropriate Spitfire XIV in dogfight sequences with a genuine Messerschmitt Bf 109E.
  • Ben Affleck's character is portrayed as joining the Royal Air Force (RAF) as part of the Eagle squadron; serving U.S. airmen were prohibited from doing so, though American civilians joining the RAF were allowed.
  • Ben Affleck's character was based at RAF Oakley actually a training base in the war, not a fighter base.
  • During the Battle of Britain flight sequences, the RAF Spitfires are shown flying in the standard American four-ship formation instead of the three-ship Vee or "VIC" formation at this stage of the war. Again this depiction is open to dispute, because by the time of the late Battle, the RAF had adopted the German Luftwaffe "Rotte" and "Schwarm" system, known in RAF parlance as the "Finger Four," which the USAF itself adopted as "Four Ship" formation.

Pearl Harbor sequences

  • The Japanese aircraft carrier from which the invasion force was launched featured modern catapults and an angled metal deck (instead of one made from wooden planking). These innovations were not introduced until the mid-1950s.
  • In the film, the P-40N model of the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk U.S. fighter aircraft is shown. Nevertheless, the "N" model of the P-40 was not available to the United States until 1943. At the airfield where the pilots are composing themselves and trying to take action against the strafing Japanese aircraft, Ben Affleck's character erroneously says "P-40s can't outrun Zeroes, we'll just have to outfly them." In fact, the standard tactic for American and Allied pilots, from the AVG (Flying Tigers) in late 1940 through 1941 and throughout the Pacific War, was basic "hit-and-run." They would dive on Zeroes, get what "hits" they could, and then outrun them (although it could be referring to the P-40s starting from a standstill and having to climb, during which the Zeros would outrun, or, rather, outclimb them). P-40s are shown doing tight maneuvers and incredibly dangerous stunts. The Zero was nimble and was the most feared fighter of the Pacific War until the F6F Hellcat debuted in 1943, and the P-40 was in no way able to "dog-fight" with the Zero.
  • Japanese Navy Air Service aircraft of the period were painted very light gray-green, not dark green.
  • At the time of the attack, the battleships in Battleship Row were moored in pairs side-by-side, without gaps through which aircraft could fly.
  • The USS Arizona Memorial, which straddles the sunken USS Arizona, can be briefly seen in a pan shot. The memorial was dedicated in the 1960s.
  • The USS Whipple can be seen clearly in a background shot of the boxing scene on the USS Arizona.
  • One of the intelligence photographs taken by the Japanese spies shows a North Carolina-class battleship. USS North Carolina did not arrive at Pearl Harbor until June 1942.
  • A retired Iowa-class battleship was used to represent West Virginia for Dorie Miller's boxing match; however, the main gun barrels are corked, which is unusual during wartime or training exercises. Furthermore, Iowa-class battleships have a 3x3 main gun configuration versus the 4x2 layout of West Virginia. Also, West Virginia did not have the World War II-era bridge and masts found on newer U.S. battleships until her reconstruction was finished in 1943. The Iowa-class themselves did not enter service until 1943–44.
  • USS Texas doubles for USS West Virginia during the sequences featuring Dorie Miller. Texas is considerably different in design than the ship she portrays, most notably lacking the "cage" masts that distinguished West Virginia and California-class battleships. During these sequences, West Virginia appears moored by herself, but in reality Tennessee was moored inboard (between West Virginia and Ford Island) at the time of the attack.
  • In the attack, a sailor is shown jumping clear of a falling battleship tripod main mast. No battleship lost a tripod mast in such a manner. Not even in the sinking of the USS Oklahoma, which capsized, did a mast fall in such a way as shown in the film.
  • In the film, Miller is shown firing a twin Browning M2 air cooled 50 caliber machine gun. In reality, the .50 caliber machine guns found on the USS West Virginia were water-cooled, similar to the .303 Vickers.
  • The Japanese carriers were located north of Hawaii. Since the attack was flown in the morning, the sunrise in the east would have caused the Zeros to be lighted from the left side. The film shows the Zeros lighted from the right side.
  • A Newport-class LST, recognizable by the twin derricks on its bow, is briefly visible in a panoramic shot. The Newport class was not built until the late 1960s.
  • President Roosevelt did not receive the news of the Pearl Harbor attack by an aide or advisor running into the room. He was having lunch with Harry Hopkins, a trusted friend, and he received a phone call from Secretary of War Henry Stimson. Hopkins refused to believe the report. The President believed it.
  • Admiral Kimmel had received warnings about an attack but, thinking them vague, did not put his forces on full-scale alert. This contradicts the film's portrayal of Kimmel as a leader railing against Washington's apathy about the Japanese threat.
  • Even though he specifically asked, by dispatch and in person, for all information, Admiral Kimmel never received the secret Magic dispatches that showed vital information. He also never received the famous 14-part message the Japanese were delivering in response to the U.S. "ultimatum" of 26 November. Especially not the 14th part which indicated the 1:00 p.m. (EST) delivery of the message and ordering the destruction of the "coding" equipment, even though this had been decoded some nine hours before the attack.
  • The reports given to Admiral Kimmel led him and his staff (as well as General Short, the Commander of the Hawaiian Army units) to believe if Japan did attack, it would be somewhere in the southwest Pacific and not Pearl Harbor. In fact, Washington concurred when Kimmel deployed his carrier task forces away from Hawaii. Before Pearl Harbor was attacked, he had deployed them around Wake and Midway Islands, to deliver fighters for protecting the ferry flights of B-17s to the Philippines (which had a higher priority, and complete access to Magic).
  • The so-called "War Warning" dispatch Admiral Kimmel received on 27 November 1941, did not warn the Pacific Fleet of an attack in the Hawaiian area. It did not state expressly or by implication an attack in the Hawaiian area was imminent or probable. It did not repeal or modify the advice previously given by the Navy Department no move against Pearl Harbor was imminent or planned by Japan. The dispatch warned of war in the Far East. The number and equipment of Japanese troops and the organization of Naval task forces indicated an amphibious expedition against the Philippines, Thailand, or Kra Peninsula, or possibly Borneo.
  • Admiral Kimmel was not on a golf course on the morning of the attack (he was planning to meet Short for a regular game, but cancelled as news of the attack came in), nor was he notified of the Japanese embassy leaving Washington, D.C., prior to the attack. The first official notification of the attack was received by General Short several hours after the attack had ended. The report of attacking an enemy midget submarine, in real life, did not reach him until after the bombs began falling.
  • Dorie Miller's actions during the battle are altered. In the film, Miller comforts Captain Mervyn S. Bennion and is with him when he dies. Miller delivers the captain's last orders to the ship's executive officer and then mans a machine gun. In reality, Miller helped move Bennion to a safer location. Bennion continued to direct the battle until he died of his wounds just before the ship was abandoned. While Miller did man an antiaircraft gun, he was never credited with any kills (as opposed to the one shown in the film).

Doolittle Raid sequences

  • In preparation for the attack, Doolittle (Baldwin) is shown training the pilots on land in a flat, sparsely wooded valley near mountains somewhere in the American Southwest. The actual training was done at the airfield known today as Columbia Metropolitan Airport in West Columbia, South Carolina.
  • Several shots of the USS Hornet aircraft carrier depicted it as having an angled flight deck, a technology that was not implemented until after the war. While the USS Hornet was portrayed by a World War II era vessel (USS Lexington), the USS Hornet was an earlier modified Yorktown-class carrier, whereas the Lexington was a modernized Essex-class carrier. In the takeoff sequence the catapult of the modern carrier can also be seen. The Japanese carriers are portrayed more correctly by comparison—a few of them did have their bridge/conning tower superstructure on the port side rather than the more common starboard configuration.
  • Affleck and Hartnett's characters are shown taking part in the Doolittle bombing raid over Tokyo in which, as fighter pilots, they would not have been allowed to participate. All of the bomber crews selected for the Doolittle mission came from a single unit based in South Carolina, the 17th Medium Bombardment Group.
  • The B-25 Mitchells shown participating in the raid are "J"-models, although the models used in the actual raid were "B" models and when Hartnett's character complains, "We're using broomsticks for tail guns!" the false tail guns were among modifications made for the mission, because the B-25B did not have a gun position in its tail.
  • The Raiders are shown flying in formation from the carrier to the target while in the actual mission, each Raider aircraft flew by itself, with an hour elapsing between the first and last takeoffs.
  • Several crewmen on Affleck and Harnett's B-25s are killed in the firefight with the Japanese, including Harnett's character. In fact, no members of the raid were killed in combat with the Japanese.
  • The flak over Tokyo in the movie was not as thick as it is depicted. For example, as stated on the Doolittle Raid article, only the B-25 of Lt. Richard O. Joyce received any battle damage with minor hits from anti-aircraft fire. No crewmen were killed during the actual raid on Tokyo.
  • The B-25 Mitchells depicted in the movie also did not have forward-firing guns until later on the war. Only the G and H model B-25s had forward-firing guns in 1943. The strafing scene in the "firefight" with the Japanese is inaccurate. The B-25B models on the actual Doolittle raid, did not have forward-firing guns.

Aircraft of the Doolittle sequence

AAF serial # Nickname Actual type Actual Serial # Registration # Location
02243 B-25J-30NC 44-86747 N8163 Palm Springs, CA
02249 The Ruptured Duck B-25J-30NC 44-86747 N8163H Palm Springs, CA
02261 B-25J-25NC 44-30423 N3675G Planes of Fame Air Museum, CA
02267 B-25J-20NC 44-29199 N9117Z Rialto, CA
02303 Whirling Dervish B-25J-10NC 43-28204 N9856C Aero Traders, CA

Other inaccuracies

  • Mitchel Field is incorrectly spelled "Mitchell Field."
  • Despite Long Island's flat, level surface, mountains are visible in the flying shots over Long Island.
  • Navy Nurse Betty claims to be 17 years old and that she has cheated with her age to be accepted, but Navy Nurses were required to be registered nurses to join the Navy Nurse Corps, which meant three years of prior training and passing a state board examination, unlikely qualifications for any 17-year old. The minimum age to join the Navy Nurse Corps was 22.
  • The ward dresses of the nurses have a different style than the ones Navy Nurses actually wore during World War II, and no nurse would have worked with long hair falling freely about her shoulders.
  • Danny's wristwatch is the same style as World War II wristwatches issued to servicemen during the period.
  • The observation car seen in the train station was made for the California Zephyr, which did not appear until after World War II.
  • The Queen Mary is seen in New York Harbor in full Cunard colors. The ship had already been painted grey and assumed duties as either a troopship. By late 1940, the Queen Mary was on her way to Sydney to be fully fitted out as a troopship.
  • The radar monitors shown in Pearl Harbor are of the more modern type which show the rotation of a dish. This type of radar was not in use at the time.
  • The distinct outline of a U.S. Kitty Hawk-class aircraft carrier, the USS Constellation, can be made out in a wide-angle shot. The first ship of this class was not commissioned until 1961. In the same shot, the sail of a modern submarine can be easily made out.
  • No U.S. Navy nurses would assess whether pilot candidates in the U.S. Army Air Corps were fit to fly.
  • Dorie Miller is shown receiving his Navy Cross on the deck of a battleship. He actually received his medal in a ceremony aboard an aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise, on 27 May 1942, shortly before the Battle of Midway.
  • Prior to the attack, Admiral Yamamoto turns a Japanese calendar to Sunday December 7 to make note of the date of the operation. In reality, when the attack started at 6:37 am Hawaii time, it was 1:37 am on Monday 8 December in Japan. The date 7 December was used because it is noted by Americans as the date of the attack. The Japanese version shows Yamamoto making note of the 8 December as the operation date.
  • The dollar bill with the overprint of Hawaii did not come out until summer 1942.
  • During the newsreel-style montage of fleet action with the voice-over "Japan continues its military conquest throughout the Pacific", footage of the sinking of HMAS Torrens in 1999 can be seen.
  • During the panning shot of the fleet just before the Doolittle raid, a Burke-class destroyer is visible in the back. These ships did not come into service until 1991.
  • Yamamoto in real life was missing two fingers. In the movie he has all fingers.
  • Roosevelt claims Stalin begged Roosevelt to join in World War II. Stalin did no such thing; however, in the 1943 Tehran Conference, he did press both Roosevelt and Churchill to open a second front.
  • Roosevelt's famous Infamy Speech was severely altered; he also wore his glasses during the speech, whereas in the movie he does not wear his glasses.
  • When taking off on the Doolittle Raid, and in the training scenes beforehand, the B-25 bombers can be seen taking off with the wind on their tails. Aircraft always take off into the wind - most especially when a short takeoff run is desired.
  • During the Doolittle Raid, the pilots' radio transmissions are heard in Pearl Harbor, which was technically not possible in 1942.
  • In a shot of the American bombers flying over Japan during the Doolittle Raid, the Byodo-in Temple is depicted with Japanese women walking in front of it. This replica is in Hawaii. The real temple is a much duller shade of brown.
  • In the scene where Rafe is being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by President Roosevelt, his only other ribbon was a Distinguished Flying Cross from the UK. His only award prior to that was the Silver Star.

Reception

The film received overwhelmingly negative reviews from critics and the public, earning only a 24% approval from critics on the review-compiling website Rotten Tomatoes. While it earned praise for its technical achievements, the screenplay and acting were popular targets for critics. A.O. Scott of the New York Times wrote, "Nearly every line of the script drops from the actors' mouths with the leaden clank of exposition, timed with bad sitcom beats. Other critics dubbed the film "Pearl Horror," and commented that it was apparently made by putting the first hour of Titanic in front of the last hour of Tora! Tora! Tora!

The soundtrack for the 2004 film Team America: World Police contained a song entitled End Of An Act. The chorous contains the refrain "Pearl Harbour Sucks (And I Miss You)" and the song's lyrics contain many common criticism of the film, such as the quality of the acting (particularly that of Ben Affleck) and the heavy-handed nature of Bay's direction.

Director Michael Bay has said that Roger Ebert's criticism: "'Pearl Harbor' is a two-hour movie squeezed into three hours, about how on Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese staged a surprise attack on an American love triangle." - was the most offensive of his entire career. According to Michael Bay: "He commented on TV that bombs don't fall like that. Does he actually think we didn't research every nook and cranny of how armor-piercing bombs fell? He's watched too many movies. He thinks they all fall flat — armor-piercing bombs fall straight down, that's the way it was designed! But he's on the air pontificating and giving the wrong information. That's insulting!

Box office

Although the movie cost approximately U.S. $132 million to film and promote, it grossed a modest U.S. $200 million at the domestic box office, but it soon earned a respectable $450 million worldwide. Despite many believing it was a disappointment, the film was actually one of the highest-earning pictures of 2001. Pearl Harbor was released on DVD on 4 December 2001, three days before the actual 60th anniversary of the attack.

Home Video Releases

A two-disc Commemorative 60th Anniversary Edition was released on December 4, 2001. This release included the feature on disc one, and on disc two, Journey to the Screen, a 47-minute documentary on the monumental production of the film, Unsung Heroes of Pearl Harbor, a 50-minute documentary on little-known heroes of the attack, a Faith Hill music video, and theatrical trailers.

A Pearl Harbor DVD gift set that includes the Commemorative Edition two-disc set, National Geographic's "Beyond the Movie" feature, and a dual-sided map was released concurrently on December 4, 2001.

A deluxe Vista Series edition of the film was released on July 2, 2002. It contained an extended, R-rated cut of the film with numerous commentaries from the cast and crew alongside a few "easter eggs". The extended cut of the film included the re-insertion of graphic carnage during the central attack (including shots of eviscerated bodies being torn apart by strafing, blood, flying limbs and so forth); small alterations and additions to existing scenes; Doolittle addressing the pilots before the raid; and the replacement of the campfire scene with a scene of Doolittle speaking personally to Rafe and Danny about the value of friendship; it runs at 184 minutes compared to the 183 minutes of the theatrical cut.

This elaborate package, which DVDtalk.com called "the most extensive set released comprising of only one film" includes four discs of film and bonus features, a replication of Roosevelt's speech, collectible promotional postcards, and a carrying case that resembles a historic photo album. The bonus features include all the features included in the commemorative edition, plus additional footage. Three audio commentaries: 1) Director and film historian, 2) Cast, and 3) Crew. Other features include The Surprise Attack - a multi-angle breakdown of the film's most exciting sequence (30 minutes), which includes multiple video tracks (such as pre-visualization and final edit) and commentaries from veterans; Pearl Harbor Historic Timeline - a set-top interactive feature produced by documentarian Charles Kiselyak (68 minutes); Soldier's Boot Camp - follows the actors as they take preparation for their roles to an extreme (30 minutes)), One Hour Over Tokyo and The Unsung Heroes of Pearl Harbor - 2 History Channel documentaries; Super-8 Montage - a collection of unseen super-8 footage shot for potential use in the movie by Michael Bay's Assistant, Mark Palansky; Deconstructing Destruction - an in-depth conversation with Michael Bay and Eric Breving (of Idustrial Light and Magic) about the special effects in the movie; and Nurse Ruth Erickson interview.

On 19 December 2006 a 65th Anniversary Commemorative Edition high-definition Blu-Ray Disc was released.

Awards

At the 2002 Academy Awards, Pearl Harbor was nominated for four awards, winning one for Sound Effects Editing. Its other nominations were for Best Sound, Best Visual Effects, and Best Song.

At the 2001 Golden Raspberry Awards Pearl Harbor was nominated for six awards: Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, Worst Screen Couple, Worst Actor (Ben Affleck), and Worst Remake or Sequel (presumably of the 1970 film Tora! Tora! Tora!); but lost to Tom Green's Freddy Got Fingered in all but the latter category, wherein it lost to Tim Burton's version of Planet of the Apes.

References

Notes

Bibliography

  • Kimmel, Husband E. Kimmel's Story. Washington, D.C.: Henry Regnery Co., 1955.
  • Sunshine, Linda and Antonia Felix, eds. Pearl Harbor: The Movie and the Moment. New York: Hyperion, 2001. ISBN 0-7868-6780-9.
  • Winchester, Jim, ed. Aircraft of World War II (The Aviation Factfile). London: Grange Books, 2004. ISBN 1-84013-639-1.

External links

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