"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. Its centerpiece is 40 minutes of redundant special effects, surrounded by a love story of stunning banality. The film has been directed without grace, vision, or originality, and although you may walk out quoting lines of dialog, it will not be because you admire them.
The filmmakers seem to have aimed the film at an audience that may not have heard of Pearl Harbor, or perhaps even of World War Two. This is the Our Weekly Reader version. If you have the slightest knowledge of the events in the film, you will know more than it can tell you. There is no sense of history, strategy or context; according to this movie, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor because America cut off its oil supply, and they were down to an 18 month reserve. Would going to war restore the fuel sources? Did they perhaps also have imperialist designs? Movie doesn't say.
So shaky is the film's history that at the end, when Jimmy Doolittle's Tokyo raiders crash-land in China, they're shot at by Japanese patrols with only a murky throwaway explanation about the Sino-Japanese war already underway. I predict some viewers will leave the theater sincerely confused about why there were Japanese in China.
As for the movie's portrait of the Japanese themselves, it is so oblique that Japanese audiences will find little to complain about apart from the fact that they play such a small role in their own raid. There are several scenes where the Japanese high command debates military tactics, but all of their dialog is strictly expository; they state facts but do not emerge with personalities or passions. Only Admiral Yamamoto (Mako) is seen as an individual, and his dialog seems to have been singled out with the hindsight of history. Congratulated on a brilliant raid, he demurs, "A brilliant man would find a way not to fight a war." And later, "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant." Do you imagine at any point the Japanese high command engaged in the 1941 Japanese equivalent of exchanging high-fives and shouting "Yes!" while pumping their fists in the air? Not in this movie, where the Japanese seem to have been melancholy even at the time about the regrettable need to play such a negative role in such a positive Hollywood film.
The American side of the story centers on two childhood friends from Tennessee with the standard-issue screenplay names Rafe McCawley (Ben Affleck) and Danny Walker (Josh Hartnett). They enter the Army Air Corps and both fall in love with the same nurse, Evelyn Johnson (Kate Beckinsale)--first Rafe falls for her, and then, after he is reported dead, Danny. Their first date is subtitled "Three Months Later" and ends with Danny, having apparently read the subtitle, telling Evelyn, "Don't let it be three months before I see you again, okay?" That gets almost as big a laugh as her line to Rafe, "I'm gonna give Danny my whole heart, but I don't think I'll ever look at another sunset without thinking of you." That kind of bad laugh would have been sidestepped in a more literate screenplay, but our hopes are not high after an early newsreel report that the Germans are bombing "downtown London"--a difficult target, since although there is such a place as "central London," at no time in 2,000 years has London ever had anything described by anybody as a "downtown." There is not a shred of conviction or chemistry in the love triangle, which results after Rafe returns alive to Hawaii shortly before the raid on Pearl Harbor and is angry at Evelyn for falling in love with Danny, inspiring her timeless line, "I didn't even know until the day you turned up alive--and then all this happened." Evelyn is a hero in the aftermath of the raid, performing triage by using her lipstick to separate the wounded who should be treated from those left to die. In a pointless stylistic choice, director Michael Bay and cinematographer John Schwartzman shoot some of the hospital scenes in soft focus, some in sharp focus, some blurred. Why? I understand it's to obscure details deemed too gory for the PG-13 rating. (Why should the carnage at Pearl Harbor be toned down to PG-13 in the first place?) In the newsreel sequences, the movie fades in and out of black and white with almost amusing haste, while the newsreel announcer sounds not like a period voice but like a Top-40 deejay in an echo chamber.
The most involving material in the film comes at the end, when Jimmy Doolittle (Alec Baldwin) leads his famous raid on Tokyo, flying Army bombers off the decks of Navy carriers and hoping to crash-land in China.
He and his men were heroes, and their story would make a good movie (and indeed has: "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo"). Another hero in the movie is the African-American cook Dorie Miller (Cuba Gooding Jr.), who because of his race was not allowed to touch a gun in the racist pre-war Navy, but opens fire during the raid, shoots down two planes, and saves the life of his captain. He's shown getting a medal. Nice to see an African-American in the movie, but the almost total absence of Asians in 1941 Hawaii is inexplicable.
As for the raid itself, a little goes a long way. What is the point, really, of more than half an hour of planes bombing ships, of explosions and fireballs, of roars on the soundtrack and bodies flying through the air and people running away from fighters that are strafing them? How can it be entertaining or moving when it's simply about the most appalling slaughter? Why do the filmmakers think we want to see this, unrelieved by intelligence, viewpoint or insight? It was a terrible, terrible day. Three thousand died in all. This is not a movie about them.
It is an unremarkable action movie; Pearl Harbor supplies the subject, but not the inspiration.
On December 7, 1941, the U.S. suffered a tremendous loss due to the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. When news of the attack was released, America was shocked. The question of, 'How could a small island country do so much damage so far away from their home and in such little time'? Most of the shock and disbelief was due to the stereotypical Japanese citizen: a nation with people of short stature with exaggerated oriental features.
America's response towards the attack had quickly gone from shock and disbelief to anger. The day after the attack President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his famous speech: 'Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. The United States was at peace with that nation, and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And, while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack. It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace. The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu. Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya. Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong. Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam. Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands. Last night the Japanese attacked Wake Island. And this morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island. Japan has therefore undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation. As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense, that always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us. No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory. I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us. Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger. With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph. So help us God. I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.' (Roosevelt 1). America's leaders responded quickly. The Senate made a unanimous vote for war against Japan. There was one woman named, Jeannette Rankin who voted against war saying that she wanted to show that a good democracy does not vote unanimously for war.
Three days after the attack, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. The Congress passed another joint resolution which officially joined the US in World War II. By January 1942, the Japanese had landed in Manila. American forces held out until early May until they were forced to surrender. This resulted in the Bataan Death March in which thousands of Philippine and Americans marched 65 miles to a Japanese prison camp.
At this time, President Roosevelt was undergoing immense emotional of American Prestige in the Pacific. At the same time he was still trying to honor his commitment with the British Allies against Hitler. Before Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt agreed that the defeat of the Nazi rule in Germany had to be the first priority. Until America could recover from the large naval losses due to Pearl Harbor and mobilize towards a two-front war, the decision was made to accept the loss of the Philippines, Wake, and Guam and also to focus on a defensive triangle that involved Alaska, Hawaii, and Panama.
It did not take long for the US Navy to change the result of the Pacific War. Fortunately, during the Pearl Harbor attack, US carriers were not in Port. By summer of 1942, US Navy aircraft carriers were making long-distance blows to Japanese naval forces in the battles of The Coral Sea and Midway that would create the end of any Japanese naval expansion in the Western Pacific and give America more hope in the wake of the previous tragedy.
` The surprise attack had been a massive wake-up call and a huge mobilization of the nation's manpower and industrial potential. Young men were brought in for combat duty and women volunteered for support duties. Even before that sad Sunday morning, America had been getting ready. Between July 1, 1940 and July 1945, the United States had made a great number of 296,601 aircraft, 71,060 ships, and 85,388 tanks. Women, of course, did their part with working in defense plants doing industrial and hard labor that had beforehand had only been done by men, thus ending the argument that a woman's place was forever in her home. As America prepared for war, another argument was also settled. Isolationists could no longer say that America should stay out of foreign entanglements and war.
The only thing left to do was to defeat the suspects of the attack that had resulted in the death of 2,000 Americans. In the environment of suspicion and paranoia that had resulted from the attack, America's government disbanded the pro-Nazi German-American Organization. American citizens of Japanese descent were forced to relocate from the West Coast, due to the fear of spies.
As more and more bad news came from the Far East, the national energy and purpose from America grew stronger. Volunteers of the Red Cross, Irving Berlin patriotic songs, speeches, and intense effort to mobilize the US were all a part of the extreme need for America to show that she could fight back at Japan. Out of this period of frustration an idea had grown for a bold bombing raid on Tokyo by Colonel James Doolittle that will be known as the Doolittle raid.
Although, the Doolittle raid did little damage to the Japanese city and had no effect on the outcome of the war, the psychological effect on America and national moral was electric. The amazing feat of B-25medium bombers from the deck of the aircraft carrier Hornet that was 670 miles from Tokyo absolutely excited American citizens who were eager to receive any good news of the war's first year.
To say the least, America's response to 'the date which will live in infamy' was shock turned into anger and resolve. The Japanese Admiral, Isoroku Hamamoto, was the man who had planned and succeeded in the attack on Pearl Harbor. It is said that Admiral Hamamoto said, 'I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and to fill him with terrible resolve.' (Hamamoto 1). No one has ever verified if the words were written or spoken, but regardless of how they came into existence, they were prophetic. America's strength eventually led to the complete defeat of Japanese, German, and Italian fascism and made the United States gain its high rank post-war reputation as a true power. The movie Pearl Harbor says, 'America suffered, but America grew stronger.' Indeed, she did
Source: Essay UK - http://www.essay.uk.com/free-essays/history/pearl-harbour.php
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