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Review: Pearl Harbor

JonKatz posted more than 13 years ago | from the -bloated-epic-(war-is-hell-but-pretty)- dept.

Movies 400

Before the treacherous attack on Pearl Harbor, we were a pretty, innocent, and simple folk. We all looked like Ben Affleck, Josh Hartness, or Kate Beckinsale. Sure, we had our faults. We drank a bit and were awkward with the girls. There was racism and stuff; there was complacency, and dumb, technologically ignorant admirals who should have been sounding the klaxons long before the Japanese attacked. After all, the Japanese did everything but ring up Franklin D. Roosevelt in the White House and announce they were coming. But hey, the countryside was gorgeous and lush, and we were all playing catch or golf or lounging around the beautiful Honolulu beaches. After the attack, well, you know ... coming of age, loss of innocence. We became an ugly, crowded, smelly, complicated country, losing our sepia tones and contending with social problems and divisions, with TV and bad airline service, with the Net and all that. SPOILAGE WARNING. (Read more.)

That's more or less the message of Pearl Harbor, the bloated epic by Michael Bay that purports to capture America's defining moment as it was drawn into the world's most awful war, but instead bogs down almost from the opening shot in a dreary, protracted and curiously unfeeling love story.

It's actually two movies, the better one buried deep inside the first. To begin with, we met the poor but super-wholesome Rafe McCawley (Affleck) and Danny Walker (Hartnett), best pals from Shelby, Tennessee, who -- under interminably complex, global and slow-moving circumstances -- fall in love with the same girl, nurse Evelyn Johnson (Beckinsale). She mopes through this 183 minute drama, sad-eyed and stunned, as if she had an IV pumping Valium into her.

Just in case, you haven't been seeing those trailers all year, the two little rascal stars are stealing and flying their parent's crop-dusting airplanes around even before reaching puberty. You get this funny intuition all that barn-storming and derring-do might lead to the skies over Pearl Harbor one day. (Yes, yes, they tell the recruiters: they were born to fly).

The screenwriter is clearly going for another grand-scale Titanic. Big history, big tragedy. The writers didn't find one of America's most humiliating military defeats big enough to carry the film. So he and Bay wrap all the jazzy bombing, aircraft maneuverings and other action sequences inside this snoozy love story, in which the stars perpetually gaze at one another in sorrow, regret and anticipation. They know pretty quickly -- duh -- that "this war is going to catch up with us one day," as Nurse Johnson actually says. We know it, too. But the movie sure makes us itchy for it to actually happen.

The film should have been content to bring us the story of the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, which is rendered with considerable skill as the use of computer animation continues to mature in movies. From the moment the first Zero glides over the mountains, the movie handsomely delivers on a richly-imagined aerial attack and the resulting chaos and tragedy. And thanks to great animation, it's one of the first movies to give us the bullets and bombs' point-of-view, from the planes right into the ships and hangars.

When the explosions are erupting one after another, tracers are tearing up the ground, and one great ship after another is blowing up and rolling over as waves of Japanese planes rip up the napping Pacific Fleet, the movie really works. You see the dimensions of the bone-headed military incompetence, as warships are tied together in the middle of the harbor, unable to fight, move or flee. Like Titanic, but unlike Saving Private Ryan, the gore is softened -- this movie is rated PG-13. A lot of gauzy, fast-framed hospital scenes avoid gaping wounds and severed limbs. But Pearl Harbor does capture the mayhem, suffering, terror and horrific sense of being trapped in a burning, sinking battleship.

The actual attack -- the movie within the movie -- is fast, furious, dramatic and entertaining. Too bad it takes so long to get to it. It does save the movie, however.

Otherwise, it's pompous and heavy-handed, from it's golden opening scenes to the gaseous voice-over narration at the conclusion. We hear grim and prescient declarations from Japanese military officials, and a non-stop symphony of choruses and angel choirs to remind us every few moments that what we are seeing is important and that everything changed after Dec. 7, l941. This Pearl Harbor is so busy signalling its significance that it's like being trapped in high school history class.

Jon Voight reverentially plays Franklin D. Roosevelt, who seems as stunned as everyone else in the movie by almost everything that's happening. Cuba Gooding plays Dorie Miller, a black cook on board a U.S. ship who grabs a machine gun and becomes one of the first Americans to fight back. Gooding does a decent enough job, but his only purpose seems to be injecting a faint note of reality into a story that turns the pre-war United States into scenes from Norman Rockwell.

To further muddy matters, the movie adds a sub-plot involving Doolittle's Raiders, the U.S. Army Air unit that first bombed Tokyo. That story is riveting; the pilots were on a virtual suicide run, since the bombers they flew couldn't carry enough fuel to return to safe waters, forcing them to ditch over China. But the saga feels like an afterthought in this movie, a strained vehicle for keeping our hunky fly-boys in the plot beyond all reason. The battle at Midway was really the Navy's payback for Pearl Harbor, and the turning point in the Pacific conflict.

Unlike Saving Private Ryan and Titanic, both of which went to extraordinary lengths to be historically accurate, this movie wanders far from the truth. Military historians say the actual battle was very different from that portrayed here -- shorter, more geographically limited, involving fewer planes, buildings and civilians.

One interesting aspect: it's shocking to see the primitive technology just 50 years ago. One reason Pearl Harbor was attacked so successfully is that the U.S. Navy couldn't find a trace of the vast Japanese Naval Task Force that crept 4,000 miles across the ocean to carry out the attack. The fleet simply vanished into the Pacific for weeks, leaving military officials to guess at its location. Cryptographers hadn't yet broken the Japanese code -- which they would a few months later -- and which led to the great U.S. naval victory at Midway. One of the world's first radar stations had just been constructed in Hawaii, but Naval officials unaccountably ignored the flight formations it was picking up in the hours before the attack. Today, satellites and electronic surveillance would have made any such stealth impossible.

But the movie most suffers from the wooden performances of its stars, who seem overwhelmed by the burden of so portraying so much history. At least Voight's Roosevelt is supposed to be concious of history.

In Titanic, a film this ones tries hard to emulate, the characters were were warm and compelling, but the real star was the great ship itself, for nearly a century the embodiment of technological hubris and human fate, bravery and tragedy.

The attack that launched American involvement in World War II did shock the nation and the world, and forced a reluctant bystander into the gruesome global conflict. It was historically more central than the Titanic's sinking and, given the 3,000 dead it left in its wake, should have been as or more powerful a tale. But at the hands of this filmmaker, the story shrinks and sinks.

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I wonder... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#195154)

Will there be similar effort put into the movie about the American holocaust of Japanese civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Re:Saw it last night... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#195155)

Nine years in the Navy and you don't even know history? Several US planes made it off the ground during the attack. Most piloted by men that were still wearing pajamas.

Also, it was Army pilots that did the Doolittle raid. Navy aviation was limited to Navy fighters, which were just that, fighters. No bombers were (or ever were) flown by Navy pilots.

Quit being so bitter, and just enjoy the movie.

Re:Do you see the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasak (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#195156)

Well, if we're going to talk about Nagasaki and Hiroshima, we definetly need to talk about the Rape of Nanking. The Japanese killed more Chinese civilians there than both nuclear bombs. Why doesn't anyone talk about this. In my mind, the Japanese got what they deserved. [Please moderate me up]

it is.. (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#195162)

interesting to note that the first shots between the US and Japan in world war two were not from the planes over Pearl, but from an American destroyer outside the harbor which sunk a Japanese submarine. This of course was ignored, as was massive radar detection.. oh well.

Did FDR actually cause Pearl Harbor? (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#195163)

This review/commentary [] of the movie suggests that in reality, "for at least a year before the attack, FDR pursued a policy of goading the Japanese to do it. He saw no other way to overwhelm American isolationist sentiment and get the country to enter the war against the Axis powers."

Don't know whether that's accurate or a conspiracy theory, but I thought it was interesting enough to mention.

Badly received.. (2)

abischof (255) | more than 13 years ago | (#195164)

It appears that Pearl Harbor has been badly received [] by critics. "Not since Battlefield Earth have critics gotten so creative when bashing a movie." ObCredit: BluesNews [] .

Alex Bischoff

My favorite review (1)

volkris (694) | more than 13 years ago | (#195169)

My favorite review, and one I agree with completely, called Perl Harbor a great war film stuck inside a three hour soap opera. Another good one said that "We now have a wonderful story of love placed on a backdrop of a chilling war. It's called The Thin Red Line. Perl Harbor sucked." Or something like that. It might have been a movie other than Thin Red LIne, I've never seen it to be sure.

Doolittle's Raid More Important Than Many Think (2)

Hrunting (2191) | more than 13 years ago | (#195173)

To further muddy matters, the movie adds a sub-plot involving Doolittle's Raiders, the U.S. Army Air unit that first bombed Tokyo. That story is riveting; the pilots were on a virtual suicide run, since the bombers they flew couldn't carry enough fuel to return to safe waters, forcing them to ditch over China. But the saga feels like an afterthought in this movie, a strained vehicle for keeping our hunky fly-boys in the plot beyond all reason. The battle at Midway was really the Navy's payback for Pearl Harbor, and the turning point in the Pacific conflict.

Actually, I'm glad they put this into the movie. A lot of people forget this raid and how incredibly important it was to us winning the war. The raid was not meant for any revenge or tactical advantage. It was flown for one purpose only, and that was to scare the Japanese. At the time, the Japanese had this idea that they were immune from American attack, that their Far East island position made them invincible, since we couldn't fly all the way across the Pacific to get them (and they pretty much had a stranglehold on the Far East otherwise). When Doolittle's fliers bombed Tokyo, it showed the Japanese that we meant business, forcing them to consider a two-front war and scaring the Japanese into a more defensive posture with regards to the Pacific. Indeed, the Japanese overeagerness to push the Americans out of the war and into defeat that led to the Battle at Midway was prompted in large part because the Japanese were worried that if they didn't strike quickly, they wouldn't be able to stop a true threat in the American Navy.

While history remembers Pearl Harbor as the entry point of American into the war, most gloss over the immediate events after that and wait until late 1942/early 1943 to talk about active and positive American military involvement. The truth is that the American military was already prepared for war, and Doolittle's raid showed it.

George Welch (2)

richieb (3277) | more than 13 years ago | (#195175)

The book "Aces Wild" chronicles the story of George Welch and the sound barrier. I wrote a review of this book here: [] .

Besides Welch and Taylor there was a flight of B-17s in the air that had arrived in Hawaii that Sunday morning. This flight was a subject of an early WW II movie called "Air Force".


Tell me a couple things (1)

Dixie_Flatline (5077) | more than 13 years ago | (#195177)

1) At any point, are there native hawaiians anywhere? In the trailers, all you see is caucasian americans.

2) Why, oh why, did they have Japanese planes dropping bombs while flying level? Japanese bombers were dive bombers. They never would have dropped bombs like that.

3) Was there any mention of the 'miscommunication' that led to the attack? As I recall from history classes, one of the translators made a bad mistake, and translated something in such a way that it was possible for the Japanese to take it hostilly. I don't remember it clearly at all, but I prefer historical movies to be historically accurate. I've already heard some complaints here.

Don't get me started on U-571.

Do you see the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? (1)

shanelenagh (6421) | more than 13 years ago | (#195179)

Any movie about the pissant bombing of Pearl Harbor should also show the amazing "punishment" that we doled out to the Japanese. Millions of innocent civilians getting fried to a crisp. It pretty much dwarfs what little the Japanese were able to do to our Hawaiin base.

Oh, and does it show the US concentration camps for US citizens that happened to be of Japanese descent?

Didn't think so.

This movie sounds like it was written to drum up anti-Oriental sentiment. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I can't help but shudder at the selective re-writing of history that this little piece of propoganda posits.


Re:Money talks, historical accuracy walks (3)

bhendrickson (7671) | more than 13 years ago | (#195186)

You missed some of the older violations of history, like the "Richard III". King Richard is portrayed as an evil hunchback ruler who will do anything to serve his ambitions. That isn't true.

So rant against whoever wrote that too, ok? I think his name was "Shakespeare" or something...


Food for thought. (2)

Cerebus (10185) | more than 13 years ago | (#195193)

At Hickam AFB near Honolulu, HI, the spalling caused by strafing runs during the attack has been preserved on a number of buildings still standing on the base.

It's an eerie feeling going to work in a building covered by pockmarks, and remembering exactly what that meant. Even more disturbing is noting that more than a dozen men died in the room in which I worked.

Re:and how were the japanese portrayed? (2)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 13 years ago | (#195194)

Well the Japanese WERE the bad guys, I mean it was a sneak attack after all.
That's only because the japanese lost. If the yankees had lost, the japanese would have been the good guys who would have liberated Asia from the grip of the whites.
Somehow I doubt any Japanese person would go to the movie and NOT expect to be portrayed as a bad guy. Sort of like going to a politically correct western movie about what the U.S. did to native Americans - could you expect the "white man" not to be the bad guy? But of course things are differently now days - we ARE politically correct (too much so if you ask me) and we admit that we made mistakes. The Japanese too are quite different in some respects, being a people known for their politeness and being rather non violent.
It's interesting... Some of my friends are Italian diplomats, and they are puzzled about the proud nationalism displayed here. They were born just after the war, and the allied-controlled postware governments brainwashed them into believing that nationalism is a bad thing...


Tora! Tora! Tora! (5)

Detritus (11846) | more than 13 years ago | (#195197)

It's an old movie, but I still think it is the best movie about the attack on Pearl Harbor. It looks at the event from both the American and Japanese point of view.

If you are interested in history, read some of Gordon Prange's books on Pearl Harbor, such as "At Dawn We Slept". The U.S. knew that war was imminent, but we didn't know where and when it would start.

Re:Doolittle's Raid More Important Than Many Think (1)

Dionysus (12737) | more than 13 years ago | (#195202)

Wasn't the Doolittle raid more of a moral booster at home?

Re:Money talks, historical accuracy walks (1)

Dionysus (12737) | more than 13 years ago | (#195203)

What about Braveheart? Heard some Scottish historians are pretty peeved off about that one.

Of course, the History Channel interviewed the screenwriter for Braveheart, and his argument that though his movie wasn't historically true, it was emotionally true (or something to that effect. Don't remember the exact words). I think Pearl Harbor was penned by the same guy.

Saw it last night... (5)

FPhlyer (14433) | more than 13 years ago | (#195205)

The movie had me until the two main characters managed to get thier planes in the air during the attack on Pearl... something that never happened in reality. We never got a plane off the ground. It pisses me off that these two fictional characters are getting the credit for shooting down seven Zeros that were actually shot down by real, live, breathing men in uniform... real heros. It pisses me off that this corps of fictional Army pilots also get credited for the attack on Tokyo by the real Dolittle Raiders, some of whom were executed after being captured by that Japanese. They didn't even have the decency to find the name of the real copilot who flew with James Dolittle... he gets credited only as "Dolittle Copilot". At least they did have the character of Doris "Dorie" Miller, a real hero of Pearl Harbor... The black cook who took to the 50 cal in the attack... but they barely followed his character, inserting him in as though he were out of place and not giving him the credit for all that he really did. I spent nine years in the Navy... I've been to the Arizona Memorial. All I have to say about this film is: It pissed me off.

Re:Would Satelites and Electronic Surveillance do (1)

JohnFred (16955) | more than 13 years ago | (#195208)

Well, at the time Radar was in it's infancy and the data wasn't always reliable and the techies had problems getting the military to believe radar reports were accurate. Over in the UK, which at the time had an even more pressing need for good radar detection systems radar still could not be relied upon to give accurate data. If you want to find out more about this, I reccomend you check out Arthur C. Clarke's ( yes, *that* A.C.C. -- he was involved ) Glide Path. It's one of the more interesting accounts of technical culture meeting military and management culture that will still strike a few resonances today. The technology changes. The idiots don't.

Costumes.... (1)

Alfthemack (17146) | more than 13 years ago | (#195210)

No one bothered to mention one of the most important elements in a historical/period film--costumes.

They made a *BIG* oops... They got the women's skirts, curls, and lacquered nails correct. However, men in the 1940's did *NOT* wear their pants at their waists. Look at your grandfather. He wears his belt at his chest because that was the thing to do back then. In this movie, all the men, both on and off duty have their pants tailored like it's 1999.

Shame... shame... shame...

(I won't discuss the other parts of the plot since well... that's pointless.)

As for the comments on the movie's historical accuracy as far as plot, you're only half right. The movie tried to blend (but still couldn't make it work) lots of random events from history into the movie. When Kate Beckinsdale's character yells "To the hospital!" That's done, of course, so that you can see the savagery of the attack on the hospital. (Yes, it really did happen. See the previous post about the pock-marks.) Mr. Miller was included for the previous reason. The nurse got pregnant because that was something that happened a lot back then. (Although don't tell conservatives that.)

Give them some credit. At least, they never mentioned Stalin, Hirohito or Truman as central figures in the attack.

Yada yada yada.

Damn spoilers (3)

rde (17364) | more than 13 years ago | (#195211)

If you're going to insist on putting spoilers in, you're going to ruin it for those of us who haven't seen it. I want to find out for myself whether the japanese end up attacking.
Waitaminnit... Michael Bay? Didn't he direct Armageddon? With Jerry Bruckheimer producing? Spoil all you like. No way am I going to watch it.

too long! (5)

delysid-x (18948) | more than 13 years ago | (#195219)

183 minutes? That's over 3 hours! They should release an abridged version with just the part where the US gets the crap blown out of them, that's all people want to see anyway.

What word processor are you using .. (1)

BilldaCat (19181) | more than 13 years ago | (#195222)

that continually uses an l instead of a 1 for dates?

that what we are seeing is important and that everything changed after Dec. 7, l941. This Pearl Harbor is so busy signalling its significance that it's like being trapped in high school history class.

Re:What word processor are you using .. (2)

BilldaCat (19181) | more than 13 years ago | (#195223)

not very hard, as this is not the first article he's done it in, more like the llth.

err, 11th. :)

Re:yawn (1)

slams (20268) | more than 13 years ago | (#195224)

You said brother! Shrek was surprisingly very good and 10x better then Perl Harbor.

Catch a matinee... (2)

berniecase (20853) | more than 13 years ago | (#195225)

1. Catch a matinee. Like pretty much any other movie (with the exception of Shrek and The Dish), don't pay full price for the crap that Hollywood stuffs down our throats. It's just not worth it.

2. If the movie starts at 2pm, walk into the theater at about 3:20 for the start of the battle. Trust me, you're not missing much before that part, and the battle is really quite incredible. For the next 55 minutes or so of the battle, you should get your money's worth. The bombing of Tokyo isn't as exciting, and Baldwin's portrayal of Doolittle is cliched and, frankly, stupid. Doolittle was a smart man, and Bay's made him look like a melodramatic ass.

As far as love stories intertwined with historical tragedies go, Titanic was a better movie. Much better.


Re:Stay Cool (1)

CerebusUS (21051) | more than 13 years ago | (#195226)

And try not to let your overly-pc mind cause you to fail to get the joke (yes the much over-abused "Launch every zig for justice" thing)

far from bad guys...? (1)

GI Jones (21552) | more than 13 years ago | (#195227)

The one thing that this movie did NOT do was to portray ANYONE as the bad guy. This film went to great lengths NOT to become a propaganda film to say: Japan, bad - U.S., good. Unlike the films of the 40s and 50s, this film tried to present the Japanese point of view and treated them fairly considering they had to play the bad guy role in the film. Call it revisionist history if you want; remember, the history books are always written by the victors. The real truth is usually some place between two opposing points of view.

You don't even know the truth about the Gulf War and that was little more than a decade ago and occurred in an age of technology. Some people have to fight to find the truth and balance the views of both sides. If it is so easy to know the real history... to know the truth, why is it people still get convicted for crimes that they do not commit? The answer: because the truth is based on facts and facts on evidence. Ultimately truth is determined by the fact finders and the fact finders are fallible. In many cases, history is what you choose to believe it is. If someone discovers new evidence that can question the facts, are they then a revisionist? Give me a break. Keep you pennies and do your own research and Lord forbid anyone challenge the status quo!

Re:Tell me a couple things (1)

GI Jones (21552) | more than 13 years ago | (#195228)

1) Native Hawaiians are curiously missing from the film. I was actually conscious of this during the film... It seemed strange to have no locals in the film.

2) They were torpedo bombers and there were issues that the water was shallow. Torpedoes had to be modified to stay near the surface.

3)It seemed all miscommunication occurred during the attack. As far as historical accuracy... it is a Hollywood film! How historically accurate can it be. Even watching documentaries, you are getting someone's 'flavor' of history.

Slashdot *pays* JonKatz to write... (1)

Jester99 (23135) | more than 13 years ago | (#195234)

"There was racism and stuff;"

Like this!?

Sorry, but if your introductory paragraph contains mistakes that my brother knew to avoid in fourth grade, what sort of credibility are you trying to establish?

Just look over the article once before hitting submit...

Re:Did FDR actually cause Pearl Harbor? (1)

runexe (24089) | more than 13 years ago | (#195235)

In fact there are many historians that agree with this view. FDR was desperately trying to find a way to convince the American people we needed to enter the War. At that point in history America still held on the to the belief that the problems in Europe were just that - Europe's problem. FDR wanted to give the British more than just equipment and supplies - he wanted America to enter the war. Now, I don't think I'd say he wanted Pearl Harbor to happen, but he did want to find a way to pursuade the American people that America's involvement in the war was necessary.

you ignorant fuck (1)

blach (25515) | more than 13 years ago | (#195237)

don't make comments without watching the movie first. this was most certainly mentioned in the movie. before the attack had begun and right when they were realizing shit was going down, they tell the naval commander that "one of our ships just sunk a japanese sub coming into the harbor"

actually, i apologize (1)

blach (25515) | more than 13 years ago | (#195238)

after rereading your post i realize you meant "ignored by our navy" not "ignored by the filmmakers"

that most certainly is interesting to note.


Re:Hmmmm (2)

Brento (26177) | more than 13 years ago | (#195239)

THis was actually a very good and accurate review by Katz (/me waits for all the Katz bashers to jump on the bandwagon).

I totally have to agree with you there. IMHO, Katz is generally a raving idiot [] with an amazing knack for restating and restating the obvious, but this time, he's told me everything I wanted to know. I've read a few reviews of this movie, all written by people who review movies for a living, but this was the best one I'd read. Nice job to Captain K.

And for all the military member who read /. (1)

gsfprez (27403) | more than 13 years ago | (#195240)

.. the only thing we walked away with from that movie was all the wincing and uncomfortable feeling in our stomachs at the thought that that Anti-American, communist, military hating asshole playing the all time greatest Hero Of the Air Force - General James H. Doolittle [] .

The worst part is now that whenever i think about or hear about the great things that General Doolittle did - i will have a mental image of that whining tree-hugging loser in my mind.

I wonder - he *HAS* to know that we all know that he HATES us.... and so i can't help but believe that in playing this role is a way to just piss the hell out of us.. every time we see the movie....

oh well.

me thinks... (1)

pcgamez (40751) | more than 13 years ago | (#195253)

I saw this movie on Friday when it came out. I have to disagree about the author's opinions on the acting. I believe the acting was superb, but the plot sucked. Not only was the first hour and a half somewhat boring (some of us were joking about using our lighters on the screen if we had to put up with much more), it also had no historical significance. The name of the movie is Pearl Harbor, not Lets Watch Ben Afleck Make Out With His GF. Therefore, I have to say I WOULD see the movie again, but walk in an hour and a half through it. Last, What was up with the Doolittle raid part added? We were allw aiting for it to end, and then bam, another 45 minutes!

Re:What word processor are you using .. (1)

thing12 (45050) | more than 13 years ago | (#195257)

The 'l vs 1' thing could happen if he's using OCR software -- I find it extremely unlikely that anyone would actually *type* l941. That's just plain stupid. But then you have to wonder why in the hell he'd be scanning in the articles... unless he's copying text from other author's reviews.

Re:Saw it last night... (1)

colmore (56499) | more than 13 years ago | (#195263)

What makes you so sure it is? I can't imagine a secret council in a shady room plotting lies and misinformation to thwart the... history channel.

Honestly conspiracy theories give human organization way too much credit. Bad history is almost always the result of existing stereotypes and plain laziness, not "revisionist propaganda"

Where did wannabe go to English class? (1)

colmore (56499) | more than 13 years ago | (#195264)

Umm you don't use "whom" as the subject of a noun clause.

You also shouldn't capitalize "class" in English class.

Additionally, "Or better yet have obviously-heavy things dropped on them" is a sentence fragment.

However, I do agree that Katz is a pretty piss-poor writer.

Re:Money talks, historical accuracy walks (1)

colmore (56499) | more than 13 years ago | (#195265)

But people really didget their heads blown off of their shoulders. Hollywood doesn't have much excuse to not make it accurate.

Re:Catch a matinee... (1)

colmore (56499) | more than 13 years ago | (#195266)

As far as love stories intertwined with historical tragedies go, Titanic was a better movie. Much better.

Sadly, I'm inclined to believe you. Leave it up to the continuing degradation of popular film to make that overrated overlong stinker look like a shining example of quality.

Re:Money talks, historical accuracy walks (2)

colmore (56499) | more than 13 years ago | (#195267)

Yeah, but George Orwell shouldn't talk. I've read 1984, and trust me, the real 1984 was almost NOTHING like that.

Re:Katz, you're an idiot. (1)

Kancer (61362) | more than 13 years ago | (#195268)

Actually the quote you quoted was takin out of context. He was reffering to how the movie pertrayed the US. Read it again

Re:What word processor are you using .. (1)

captredballs (71364) | more than 13 years ago | (#195280)

But if I don't criticise everything then nobody will know how smart I am!

Jeez, what kinda geek are you? ;-)

Which movies are pretty accurate? (2)

antdude (79039) | more than 13 years ago | (#195285)

Okay, a lot of people note that Pearl Harbor is NOT historically accurate. What movies are historically accurate? I heard Tora (good classic war movie) is pretty accurate. Any others?

Thank you in advance for replies :).

and how were the japanese portrayed? (2)

AugstWest (79042) | more than 13 years ago | (#195286)

From what I've read, the movie is actually being shown in Japan, but it has been altered because "it made the Japanese look like bad guys."

Is there a lot of revisionist history going on in this one? I'm not going to spend a single penny on it, but it would be interesting to know.

Re:Slashdot *pays* JonKatz to write... (3)

nihilogos (87025) | more than 13 years ago | (#195293)

Ah,I see a great career for you in a sortsof journalism with such skills in ignoring context. The into paragraph is written as a caricature of the simple, innocent all-american folk which existed before they were so rudely awakened by bombs in Hawaii. And besides, do I complain at all the neighbors and centers I have to look at on the net every day?

Re:Saw it last night... (1)

pbur (88030) | more than 13 years ago | (#195294)

According to the histroy channel show about Pearl harbor, we got six planes in the air. They were interviewing a Japanese pilot about the ensuing dogfight. But I saw the movie and pretty much hated it. For once, I agree with JonKatz, I can't believe it. Very heavy handed hollywood at its finest.

Where did Katz go to English Class? (5)

wannabe (90895) | more than 13 years ago | (#195297)

"richly-imagined imagination"

With descriptors like that, both Katz and whomever taught him should be dragged into the literary streets and flogged with a thesaurus.

Or better yet have obviously-heavy heavy things dropped on them.

Lost at sea (5)

Christopher Biow (92137) | more than 13 years ago | (#195299)

One reason Pearl Harbor was attacked so successfully is that the U.S. Navy couldn't find a trace of the vast Japanese Naval Task Force that crept 4,000 miles across the ocean to carry out the attack. The fleet simply vanished into the Pacific for weeks, leaving military officials to guess at it's location. Today, satellites and electronic surveillance would have much any such stealth impossible.

The details have changed, but entire carrier battle groups still can and do "lose" themselves at sea. For all the wonderful air, satellite, and ground-based surveillance we have today, the challenge of tracking and identifying ships and aircraft at sea remains a daunting one. Oceans are big. It's hard to appreciate just how difficult a task it is until you've stood watch as Force Over the Horizon Targeting Coordinator (FOTC) for a battle group. The fog clears, and you realize that no matter how perfectly they may have been executing Soviet battle tactics and formation, the "Orange" (exercise enemy) task force that you just had half the air wing WASEX (blow away) was really an Icelandic fishing fleet. [True story, Northern Wedding '89]. But then you take comfort in realizing that the neither the Orange fleet nor the Red (real) Bear-D's have found you, either, as you approach the relative safety of the Vestfjord.

Nor is it all that hard to sneak aircraft past radar. For just one example, send 'em through in welded-wing formation, in the dark, on the expected track of a commercial flight, and there's a very good chance you'll get in and out before anyone wakes up.

Re:I like the review but... (2)

Motor (104119) | more than 13 years ago | (#195309)

The filthy critic is just foul-mouthed rather than witty. If you want funny, check out Mr. Cranky [] . His Pearl Harbor review is here [] .

wow... (1)

Omega996 (106762) | more than 13 years ago | (#195311)

it sure took him long enough to say "don't bother - it sucks".

my one consolation is that i didn't pay for the movie ticket.

Re:Saw it last night... (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 13 years ago | (#195317)

Yes, we /did/ get planes up at Pearl Harbor. Several P-36s and a few P-40s did fight back, with limited success.

I also seem to recall a story about an SBD Dauntless dive bomber shooting down a Zero at that battle.

There were also about twelve unarmed B-17s flying in from California during the fight.

Imperial Japanese were the scum of the earth (2)

Von Rex (114907) | more than 13 years ago | (#195319)

I'd be more interested in seeing the Japanese reaction to Nanking than Hiroshima. You know, that Chinese city where the Japanese let loose their soldiers like a Mongol horde and tried to rape every woman they could find?

I'd also be interested in seeing their reaction to all the bayonetted boys and raped women in the Phillipines, which they labelled the "Southern Resource Area".

If I was a Jew, I'd most fear being occupied by Nazis. If I was from any other group, I'd prefer being conquered by the Nazis to being conquered by the Imperial Japanese.

Thanks to the Jews, we all remember the Nazi's war crimes. But there's no equivalent to the Jews for the Pacific conflict. Certainly Japan has never recognized it's responsibility for the war in the same way that Germany has.

So you won't hear any complaining about Hiroshima from me. After what the Japanese did to civilians all across Asia, they should consider themselves lucky that we only nuked their cities one at a time.

P.S. More people died in the conventional bombings of Tokyo and Dresden than died at Hiroshima. And 10 times more would have died in any conventional invasion of Japan. Remember, we're talking about people that had to be nuked twice to get the point.

Let's Do The Timewarp Again ... (1)

great throwdini (118430) | more than 13 years ago | (#195320)

One interesting aspect: it's shocking to see the primitive technology just 50 years ago.

Pearl Harbor: December 7, 1941.

Quoted Slashdot Review: May 27, 2001.

Fifty years? Try sixty.

Re:Tora! Tora! Tora! (2)

great throwdini (118430) | more than 13 years ago | (#195321)

Yeah, before they had CGI, they used actual Zeros for this one, really cool!

Actually, the producers of Tora! Tora! Tora! did no such thing. Crafting the film in the late Sixties (a quarter-century and then some after Pearl Harbor), there was a rather distinct lack of authentic Japanese military hardware from that time period (recall Japan's near-total disarmament following World War II).

Instead, the production crew modified US training planes to appear as Japanese Zeros in the film. I'd suggest listening to the audio commentary on this truly remarkable DVD :)

Re:Saw it last night... (1)

Angelo Torres (119850) | more than 13 years ago | (#195322)

Two American pilots did actually get into the air and manage to shoot down seven Japanese Zeros. However, I doubt they were in love with the same girl or that they both flew B-25's in the Doolittle (I think it's 2 o's) raid.

Another interesting bit of history is that after Miller won the Navy Cross for shooting down two Zeros he was reassigned to his old post as a cook! Just goes to show the level of racism that was present in the Navy back then.

LOTR Trailer / Historical Accuracy (2)

Logic Bomb (122875) | more than 13 years ago | (#195324)

People might be interested to know that when I saw Pearl Harbor on opening night at an AMC theater, that new Lord Of The Rings trailer discussed on /. a few days ago was shown. Might be worth the ticket price. :-)

The movie itself was a lot like Saving Private Ryan, in that the big battle scene was an excellent way of showing how horrifying war can be but the rest of the movie was fairly mediocre. One other problem I had as I watched it was the bizarre and erratic combination of true historical references and total fiction. A handful of characters in the movie were real people, a handful were composites of real people, but it was never clear which those were. Same goes for a lot of events; it's impossible to tell what really happened and what didn't, but the very existence of true events in the movie leaves one predisposed to find it all accurate. Like some others have commented, I find that troubling, especially because in this day and age lots of parents take their kids to such movies because they are "educational."

Read a book, damnit. :-)

Re:Tora! Tora! Tora! (2)

Chagrin (128939) | more than 13 years ago | (#195332)

Ah good. I was hoping someone would mention Tora! Tora! Tora! :).

Seems to me that after watching Tora! Tora! Tora!, there's really no reason to watch Pearl Harbor. With both Japanese and US historians developing the movie, you're not going to find a more accurate account of that battle.

Re:Money talks, historical accuracy walks (1)

equalize (129721) | more than 13 years ago | (#195333)

People want to be entertained. People also want to be informed. I paid $5.50 at the movie theater to watch a film and I didn't pay a cent to watch a network television program on Pearl Harbor. I going to remember the love story from the movie, but I will remember the historical parts (where they actually bombed, that the US force didn't have any planes in the air, that there are at least 900 people still buried in the Arizona) for much longer and will have a more lasting effect for me.

We are fine being entertained, as long as we know the difference between fiction and non-fiction (which these movies do make confusing). My teachers in High School used films to support historical events, but I remember being told that the movies might not be accurate and we are free to expand our knowledge ourselves using the resources there are.

I must admit the attack scenes were really well done, but I think they could have done a completely accurate attack and still be able to have the two actors do what they did.

Re:Money talks, historical accuracy walks (2)

mszeto (133525) | more than 13 years ago | (#195336)

He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past. - George Orwell, "1984", 1948

I've never seen a place where this quote is more appropriate. Yes, *we* know that the films are historically innacurate, but say 20 years from now, or 50 years from now, will common people go to history books, or something that is *EASY* for them to watch. It can almost be said that Hollywood is subconciously rewritting history.

Re:Roosevelt knew well of impending attack (1)

hidden (135234) | more than 13 years ago | (#195338)

"well accepted by historians" well then!

could we possibly see some sort of references or something for this? Maybe it's common knowledge, but I've certainly never heard it before!

From Here to Eternity (1)

FriscoJohn (135372) | more than 13 years ago | (#195339)

Far better than Pearl Harbor OR Tora Tora Tora is the 1953 film From Here to Eternity. Nominated for 13 Academy Awards and winning 8, it deals with military life in Hawaii up to and including the attack on Pearl. If you don't rmember how great this film was, see If you haven't seen it, rent it!

Re:Jeez... it's a movie... (2)

Hillman (137883) | more than 13 years ago | (#195341)

obviously we are not all living in pods right now.

How do you know ?

yawn (4)

fleener (140714) | more than 13 years ago | (#195351)

It's a predictable paint-by-numbers Hollywood flick that relies on the musical score to pretend it's an epic. To count the yawns, flaws and laughable moments would take days. Save yourself the misery and watch Shrek again.

Re:Doolittle's Raid More Important Than Many Think (1)

Lozzer (141543) | more than 13 years ago | (#195353)

Is morale spelt without the "e" in America? Or was it really some kind of eccentric social responsibility lesson?

With apologies...

Re:Tora! Tora! Tora! (2)

nomadic (141991) | more than 13 years ago | (#195354)

Yep, Tora! Tora! Tora! is one of the good ones. The special effects for that one were truly amazing, considering they didn't have computer effects at that time.

Conspiracy Theory (1)

de Selby (167520) | more than 13 years ago | (#195388)

I've heard that our Pres. at the time wanted in the war to do some good. And that clues pointed to a Japanese attack in the general area around the general time. And that our major ships, that should have been in dock, were strangely away. Discuss.

Can we stop calling "Titanic" realistic, please? (2)

nagora (177841) | more than 13 years ago | (#195407)

Titanic went to no lengths to be accurate. The characters were so misrepresented that law cases were started and settled out of court because there was no justification for it, the ship did not split apart on the surface - that was a story told years later by one survivor who was 4 years old at the time. The social tensions were grossly overstated and both laughable and patronising. The whole thing of the paintings supposed to have been lost (you know, the Degas and Picassos you can still see in museums) is pathetic.

AND... I had family that worked on the Titanic, I was born in Belfast and the story of the ship was taught in schools and survivors appeared on local TV from time to time. In all of that NOONE ever called the damn thing "Titanic" - it's "The Titanic".


Even the writer thought it sucked. (5)

IvyMike (178408) | more than 13 years ago | (#195409)

As you can tell from this article in The New York Daily News. []

Would Satelites and Electronic Surveillance do ? (1)

cOdEgUru (181536) | more than 13 years ago | (#195413)

One of the world's first radar stations had just been constructed in Hawaii, but Naval officials unaccountably ignored the flight formations it was picking up in the hours before the attack. Today, satellites and electronic surveillance would have made any such stealth impossible.

The same radars, intelligence and all the spy satelites in the world didnt help the US to realize that India was getting ready to test its Nukes underground. So does that mean, that even now, a small determined nation could crept under the shroud of electronic surveillance and sneak right in to the enemy's backyard and plant a surprise ? It sure seems possible.

Hmmmm (3)

Phokus (192971) | more than 13 years ago | (#195423)

THis was actually a very good and accurate review by Katz (/me waits for all the Katz bashers to jump on the bandwagon).

The most unfortunate thing is that Bay and Burkheimer prostituted the pearl harbor vets to promote this movie, and it turns out this movie has nothing to do with honoring their memories at all.

In short, this movie is a poorly contrived/clicheish action/love/special effects movie that has absolutely no meaning unless you're one of the brainless moviegoing sheep that feeds the Hollywood coffers (sorry if i offended anyone, but this is true).

Re:Tora! Tora! Tora! (1)

nekid_singularity (196486) | more than 13 years ago | (#195424)

Another good movie is the all japanese "I Bombed Pearl Harbor" from 1960, but it is a little difficult to find.

lets not forget... (1)

bouis (198138) | more than 13 years ago | (#195426)

This movie was made by Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay, two of the morons responsible for "Armageddon." It's no suprise that both movies have that "bastard child of a comic book and a soap opera" feel to them. For once I agree with Katz, this movie stinks. What bothers me the most was the way that they used/abused the real people involved to pump their garbage movie. The movie's depiction of historic characters is wrong in most parts and downright insulting in others, I don't see how they managed to sign on so many people connected with the real battle to help push this movie...

Re:Tora! Tora! Tora! (1)

ejrongo (201809) | more than 13 years ago | (#195428)

Actually, we controlled EXACTLY where and when it started. On the day of the attack, 20% of the pacific fleet was at Pearl Harbor. Now ask yourself why, especially with global tensions as high as they were at the time, would the U.S. Navy keep so much of its fleet docked instead of out doing other stuff. At the time, only 2-3% of the fleet would have been there at any given time. We put so much of it in one place because we wanted an excuse to enter the war. FDR knew exactly what was coming as many as six hours before it happened, but did nothing about it. If he wasn't trying to set the nation up for war, why wouldn't he do anything about it?

Re:and how were the japanese portrayed? (2)

update() (217397) | more than 13 years ago | (#195439)

According to a New York Times article, some uses of "dirty Jap" and such were excised and some first person pronouns ("we" "us") in the voiceover were changed to "Americans." None of the alterations affected the plot. Japanese-American groups vetted the script and I would guess that they (not unreasonably) are more sensitive about slights than Japanese would be.

As long as I'm posting, let me join the people who are praising "Tora! Tora! Tora!" That was a superb movie -- historically meticulous and excellent effects for its time.

Unsettling MOTD at my ISP.

Re:Doolittle's Raid More Important Than Many Think (2)

praedor (218403) | more than 13 years ago | (#195440)

The Doolittle Raid was a bit more than what you say. It was a CRUCIAL moral-booster for the American public. Shortly after getting creamed at Pearl Harbor, we turned around and stung the Japanese right back. Instant hooray and boost to the public in the aftermath shock of Pearl.

Militarily, sure, the Doolittle Raid was a modest move against the Japanese - but it had its psychological and moral-affecting aspect to it for the Japanese. "We can hit you even across the great Pacific. You are NOT safe." Boom, a small shake to the moral of the Japanese in the aftermath of the Pearl attack.

Re:it is.. (1)

deebaine (218719) | more than 13 years ago | (#195441)

Not entirely true. The USS Ward sent a message that she had engaged a mini-submarine at the entrance to the harbor, but did not claim to have sunk it immediately, I believe. At least two sets of messages and replies went back and forth between Kimmel's staff and Ward with the composition and encoding taking up almost the entire hour. By the time it was sorted out, it was literally minutes before bombs were falling.

The radar returns were not ignored so much as misinterpreted. No one had been properly trained on the Army radar station by December 7; the Japanese strike was in fact detected, but the Corporal (I believe) in charge identified them as B-17's due in from the mainland. The report went no higher than that. If I recall correctly, in the wake of Pearl, policy was changed to require a positive visual identification of incoming bogeys. Unidentified returns were considered hostile. I don't have my source for this one handy, I'll check when I can.


Re:Saw it last night...Actually happened (5)

deebaine (218719) | more than 13 years ago | (#195443)

The real, live breathing men in uniform were both Air Force pilots, namely Lieutenants George S. Welch and Kenneth A. Taylor. Lt. Welch was credited with four kills, while Taylor was credited with three. In fact, two of Taylor's three were the the two trailing planes in the three-ship led by Lt. Zenji Abe, who commanded the second wave off the Akagi from his Val.

I believe a total of four Warhawks scrambled against the first wave, but I don't know anything about the others.

There are lots of reasons to be annoyed by Pearl Harbor; I don't believe that the portrayal of the men who scrambled in the face of 80-1 odds is one of them.


Re:Saw it last night... (2)

zhensel (228891) | more than 13 years ago | (#195448)

Though I haven't seen the movie yet, apparently it has Miller receiving a medal for his valor (read this in some review). In actuality, he died later in the war and the navy refused to give him the medal until years after his death. Again, second hand information, but if it's true it's pretty ironic.

Re:Let's Do The Timewarp Again ... (2)

zhensel (228891) | more than 13 years ago | (#195449)

Nope. He's right. Journalists must follow the Price-is-Right-guidelines at all times. Since saying 60 years would obviously be over the actual amount, it would eliminate Jon from the year-guessing game and, ultimately, take away any chance at reaching the Showcase Showdown. Now, why 50 instead of 59? Clearly, like all modern journalists, Jon must round to the nearest ten. Unfortunately, this rule is not analagous with a TV gameshow, so it is much more difficult to explain.

Japanese (and American) revisionist history (5)

localroger (258128) | more than 13 years ago | (#195471)

My understanding is that the Japanese are very reticent about admitting their role in WWII. I have read several articles about how their schools don't teach it, and it took until just a few years ago to get an apology for the fate of Korean "comfort women" who were abducted and gang-raped by Japanese soldiers. I also believe the Chinese are still miffed that they will not acknowledge just what they did at Nanking.

So yes, an American movie that accurately depicts the sneakiness of the sneak attack might have problems there.

We have our own similar buttons. Pearl Harbor did not justify what we did to Dresden, what Curtis LeMay did to the population centres of Japanese cities, or what we did at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The idea of mass-attacking civilians to terrorize the enemy gradually developed through the war, and we were every bit as guilty as our enemies in deliberately extending the logic of strategic bombing. Yet you still meet people -- lots of them -- who are very defensive about the Manhattan Project and simply refuse to see what an evil thing it was in the end. After more than 55 years we are still pushing unnecessary weapon systems and misguided energy policies because we are unwilling to admit that the whole thing was just a bad idea inseparable from its legacy of misery and death.

Re:Saw it last night... (3)

purdue_thor (260386) | more than 13 years ago | (#195473)

I have to disagree. I am not an expert, but I was watching some documentaries on the attack, and the US apparently got a handful of planes in the air. They even mentioned the story of two very flashy pilots who... awoke after a long night out and immediately drove their car through the gunfire to a small airbase 10 miles away. They readied their planes and got in the air. These two are credited with shooting down between 6 and 8 planes. It seems they took this story and worked it into the movie.

Katz needs some of Kate Beckinsale's valium... (1)

Scoria (264473) | more than 13 years ago | (#195480)

This is a Disneyfied movie on one of the more horrible things that has happened to the United States of America.

2,403 American soldiers died at Pearl Harbor in a surprise attack that lasted a little less than two hours. This movie lasts three, unfortunately.

You don't expect a flashy-silver-cool-pretty-movie type guy such as Jerry Bruckheimer to make something insightful or deep, do you? I didn't think so.

The way they've promoted this movie, I wouldn't be surprised if Ben Affleck action figures are included in the happy meals.

Anyone who sees this movie sort-of deserves what they get... A bloated, wanna-be war epic about a pretty boy, his friend, and the girl they want.

Woowoo, MTV showing at four.

Re:Saw it last night... (1) (264791) | more than 13 years ago | (#195482)

I don't believe the HISTORY channel would bend history, do you? What's the point? They wouldn't try to promote the movie either, the sappy love story just doesn't cut it.

Money talks, historical accuracy walks (5)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 13 years ago | (#195492)

Disturbingly, Pearl Harbor [] continues Hollywood's trend of sacrificing historical accuracy for dramatic fiction in it's neverending quest to put more bums on seats.

That Ben Affleck's character has just returned from Europe having fought in the Battle of Britain and incarceration in a prisoner of war camp is completely laughable, just as the idea that Ralph Fiennes injured character in The English Patient [] would be transported back home to Britain via war-torn Italy.

And the list doesn't end there.

U-571 [] is an absolute joke: American sailor's boarding a German U-boat to capture a Enigma cypher machine is how Hollywood tells the story. History, on the other hand, tells us that the first Enigma was captured by the British before the US even entered the war!

There are other transgressors: Saving Private Ryan [] forgets that even the landing craft delivering US soldiers to the D-Day beaches were piloted by the men of the Royal Navy, and even Schindler's List [] strays from the truth in it's depiction of Oscar Schindler.

There are countless other examples. History is being bastardised left, right and centre and 99.9% of the audience is none the wiser. Worse still, many of these movies are used as teaching aids and are held up as being 100% historically accurate by people who should know better. And all so that some fat executive sitting in some plush studio office can make an extra buck.

I know that history is written by the victors but where does is say that it should be rewritten 50 years later in the name of greed? Is this what they fought for?

I like the review but... (1)

SugarKing (315423) | more than 13 years ago | (#195499)

I like hearing what the Filthy Critic [] has to say. Always gives me a good laugh and is usually right on the dot about movies;)

What about historical respect? (1)

SocialWorm (316263) | more than 13 years ago | (#195500)

Speaking from a U.S. perspective, I cannot help but wonder if it's fair for a movie industry that seems to oppose individual freedom to benefit from the stories of those who are reputed to have fought for it.
Indeed, I think the argument can be made that the injection of the "romance-subplot" into the story of Pearl Harbor cheapens the events that actually took place there, and therefore also lessens historical respect for the events of WWII. I can also see an argument for the romantic subplot adding a human dimension to the those events.

Re:What word processor are you using .. (1)

bwhaley (410361) | more than 13 years ago | (#195507)

christ, could we be a little more critical? If I have one HUGE complaint about the slashdot community, it's the fact that everyone criticizes EVERYTHING. How hard did you have to look to see that he uses an "L" rather than a one for dates?

Re:yawn (1)

warmiak (444024) | more than 13 years ago | (#195511)

And Shrek is not a predictable Hollywood flick ?
Get a clue.

Re:and how were the japanese portrayed? (2)

archen (447353) | more than 13 years ago | (#195518)

Well the Japanese WERE the bad guys, I mean it was a sneak attack after all. The things that the Japanese did during the war are really pretty terrible, and I really don't think even the Japanese delude themselves by ignoring what they did. How much some old koreans still hate the Japanese is testament to how bad they could get at times.

Somehow I doubt any Japanese person would go to the movie and NOT expect to be portrayed as a bad guy. Sort of like going to a politically correct western movie about what the U.S. did to native Americans - could you expect the "white man" not to be the bad guy? But of course things are differently now days - we ARE politically correct (too much so if you ask me) and we admit that we made mistakes. The Japanese too are quite different in some respects, being a people known for their politeness and being rather non violent.

Still seems odd that they have to alter the movie, like trying to tell the Japanese "Oh, sure you guys attacked us but see? It's not that bad!". Lets face it, you do bad things in war, that's what war is all about. I doubt the Japanese are very happy about us nuking 2 of their cities, but we did. It was war. That's that.

Patriotism and the baddies (2)

absurd_spork (454513) | more than 13 years ago | (#195525)

I know that's not really relevant for the apparent majority of Slashdot readers, but both here in Germany and over there in Japan people do see catastrophically patriotic movies like Pearl Harbor with a bit of a mixed feeling. In the same category of movie, we have, for example, The Bridge at Remagen (I think that's the English title) which is where my grandfather happened to die, countless movies about the Battle of Britain, about the war in the Pacific and so on. Are you aware that a war that people who are now your allies lost may actually cause problems to these very people when they're portrayed as "100% baddie, 0% character"? (I mean, over here about 60% of the population lost a relative during the War, and I don't really want to imagine what a Japanese feels like when he looks at a video that depicts Nagasaki.)

Battle of Britain & Submarines (2)

absurd_spork (454513) | more than 13 years ago | (#195526)

That Ben Affleck's character has just returned from Europe having fought in the Battle of Britain and incarceration in a prisoner of war camp is completely laughable

There were, actually, some pilots from other countries than Britain who fought in the Battle of Britain; for example, some Polish and Canadians actually managed to get quite a good reputation. However, the bit about incarceration in POW camps is quite laughable indeed... However, it somehow had to be included for the sake of war athmosphere, it seems.

U-571 is an absolute joke: American sailor's boarding a German U-boat to capture a Enigma cypher machine is how Hollywood tells the story. History, on the other hand, tells us that the first Enigma was captured by the British before the US even entered the war!

One should add that the best movie about German submarine warfare is still the classic Das Boot [] (see other review [] with different trailers). The submarines were actually one of Germany's most technologically advanced and most terrifying weapons, especially since they did see some large scale use; on the other hand, more than 90% of German submariners did not return from the War.

Re:Patriotism and the baddies (2)

absurd_spork (454513) | more than 13 years ago | (#195527)

Of course every schoolchild in Germany knows that we started the war, that Hitler was democratically elected in Germany and that the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki did save the lives of those who would have died in a territorial invasion of Japan. We learn that and we get to live with the historical responsibility of our people. This perspective appears to lack in the American approach which I see behind Pearl Harbor: you think dropping a nuke on 250,000 is a good thing when it saves you from killing 500,000, but actually both are crimes. Historical responsibility is owed by any nation that ever participated in organized mass slaughter.

In war, crimes get committed by both sides, and none of them can be justified by the greater cause. That's the main lesson to be learned. My ancestors who died in the war (grandfather at Remagen, grandmother died in Berlin, other died in the bombing of Dresden in 1945 which militarically redundant) did not start the war.

Teenyboppers will be shocked (1)

ColGraff (454761) | more than 13 years ago | (#195528)

"The screenwriter is clearly going for another grand-scale Titanic."
Why do I suspect that a legion of 12 to 14 year old girls will be crying about how sad it is that Pearl Harbor gets bombed?

What effect will this movie have? (1)

ColGraff (454761) | more than 13 years ago | (#195529)

I was listening to NPR yesterday, and they had a guy on (I forget his name, sorry) who made a couple of interesting points. First of all, he mentioned that there is a higher incidence of hate crimes against Asian-Americans on Dec. 7. He also mentioned that after the release of other Pearl Harbor movies such as Tora Tora Tora, there has been a temporary increase in violence against Asian-Americans.

This is an interesting example of a well-known phenomenon, the larger-than-life effect of movies. Quite simply, the images and sounds of a move can have enormous psychological impact on people even when they know rationally that there is no reason for them to be emotional. That's how, for example, horror movies and tearjerkers can be effective. Our brains just aren't wired to disregard the sort of full-screen, Dolby Digital input you get in a movie theatre.
In short, it is entirely possible that "Pearl Harbor" may cause an increase in racist behavior, if past experience is anything to go by. Note, however, that I am not saying the producers, writers, or audience are bigots. I am just saying that movies influence people in a variety of subconcious ways, and this movie may have the effect I mentioned. Thoughts?

Re:Tora! Tora! Tora! (1)

Spock the Baptist (455355) | more than 13 years ago | (#195531)

To be specific AT-6 Texans were used for Zekes, and BT-13s were used for the Kate Torpedo Plans. I can't recall aircraft were used for Vals.

Re:Saw it last night... (3)

Spock the Baptist (455355) | more than 13 years ago | (#195539)

Can you say 2nd Lts. George Welch, and Kenneth Taylor. There, I knew you could.

The Affleck, and Hartnett characters are based on Welch, and Taylor, who shot down 7 to 10 Nip aircraft during the attack.

George Welch went on to score 16 confirmed air-to-air victories during WW2. He later was a test pilot with North American Aviation after WW2 where did some of the flight testing for the F-86 prototype, the XP-86. In 1997 the USAF confirmed that Welch actually broke the sound barrier, in a dive, while flight testing the XP-86 at Muroc a week prior to Chuck Yeagers Mach 1 flight in the XS-1. Additionally, Welch is 'rumored' to have unofficially shot down a half dozen Migs over Korea while 'performing demonstration flights' for new F-86 pilots with the USAF.

Unfortunately, Welch died while flight testing the YP-
100 Super Saber, which he had previously taken supersonic during on its first flight. This made him the first person to go supersonic in level flight in an air breathing aircraft.

All-in-all George Welch was quite the aviation hero.

For a fuller account of George Welch's Aviation Career see

Re:Patriotism and the baddies (2)

theonetruesteve (455357) | more than 13 years ago | (#195540)

Yes, if you don't like the movie, or movies involving us "Big Bad War-Mongering Americans" in it, don't go see them. The fact of the matter is I to, as with many others from the Allied nations lost grandparents and parents. One of my grandfathers was killed at sea by a kamikazi attack on his ship, another died on D-Day, and I am sure it was not a very pretty death at all. Sorry you are sensitive to movies portraying our victory, but I get a little worked up when I see the footage of what the Germans did to those poor Jews in the camps, and the horrible experiments they caught on film. Sure we are all good buddies now, but movies like this serve another purpose, not to nessisicarly teach the exact events, but for those who were not there to remember. If you don't learn from the past, you are doomed to repeat it. To all the veterns on both sides of the battlefield, remember the fallen, and know that you are respected and adored.

Pearl Harbor... (1)

halosix (455362) | more than 13 years ago | (#195541)

I feel that Pearl Harbor addressed a lot of issues that previously had not been addressed in a lot of hollywood movies. First off, outside of the Tuskagee Airmen, I can't think offhand of any movies that included African Americans, let alone credited them with doing something for the war effort. Also, no movies have EVER gone into women's contributions to the war. To show that women were gunned down while performing their nursing duties is one of the first times that credit has been given. I think you have to look beyond some of the historical inaccuracies like the number of planes, etc., and look at what the movie is trying to tell us.

It's trying to say that Pearl Harbor was a tragedy which left lives shattered and changed. It was the first step that involved sending Amerians across the Pacfic and Atlantic. I feel that people are trying to downplay its significance. How significant is the story of Private Ryan compared to Pearl Harbor? The love story, as did the story of Private Ryan, helped show how peoples lives were changed and the tragedy that people felt.

I think we all need to reevaluate our criticisms of the movie.

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