“Pearl Harbor” is a three-hour film describing how the Japanese mounted a surprise attack on an American love triangle on December 7, 1941. Its centerpiece is 40 minutes of pointless spectacular effects set against a stunningly dull love story. The picture is directed without grace, vision, or creativity, and you may find yourself quoting lines of dialogue, but not because you admire them. The film’s history is so sketchy that when Jimmy Doolittle’s Tokyo raiders crash-land in China, they are shot at by Japanese patrols, with just a hazy throwaway explanation about the ongoing Sino-Japanese conflict. I expect that several audience members will leave the theatre perplexed as to why there were Japanese in China.
The directors appear to have targeted the picture at an audience that may not be familiar with the events of Pearl Harbor or even World War Two. This is the version for Our Weekly Reader. If you have even a rudimentary understanding of the events shown in the film, you will know far more than it can teach you. There is little understanding of history, strategy, or context; this film claims that Japan attacked Pearl Harbor because the US cut off its oil supply, leaving them with only an 18-month supply. Would go to war help to re-establish fuel supplies? Did they have any imperialist designs as well? The film makes no mention of this.
The End of the Pearl Harbor Film
Apart from the fact that they play such a little role in their own invasion, the film’s portrayal of the Japanese is so oblique that Japanese spectators will have little to complain about. The Japanese high command argues military strategy in multiple sequences, but all of their dialogue is strictly expository; they state facts without revealing personalities or sentiments. Only Admiral Yamamoto (Mako) is picked out, and his dialogue appears to have been selected with the benefit of hindsight. “A brilliant man would find a method not to fight a war,” he says when congratulating on a spectacular raid. He later remarks, “I fear all we’ve done is revive a sleeping giant.”
while pumping their fists in the air in 1941? Not in this film, where the Japanese appear to have been depressed even at the time about the unfortunate need of playing such a bad role in such a positive Hollywood production. The American side of the plot revolves around two childhood friends from Tennessee named Rafe McCawley (Ben Affleck) and Danny Walker, who have the standard-issue screenplay names of Rafe McCawley (Ben Affleck) and Danny Walker, respectively (Josh Hartnett). Rafe and Danny both join the Army Air Corps and fall in love with the same nurse, Evelyn Johnson (Kate Beckinsale)—first Rafe and then Danny after he is believed dead. Their first date is named “Three Months Later,” and it concludes with Danny urging Evelyn, “Don’t let it be three months until I see you again, okay?” Danny appears to have read the subtitle.
“That kind of bad laugh would have been avoided in a more literate screenplay, but our hopes aren’t high after an early newsreel report that the Germans are bombing “downtown London”—a difficult target because, while there is a “central London,” London has never had anything described as a “downtown” by anyone in the last 2,000 years.” Rafe returns alive to Hawaii soon before the Pearl Harbor assault, outraged with Evelyn for falling in love with Danny, resulting in a love triangle that inspires her classic line, “I didn’t even know until the day you turned up alive—and then all this happened,” is devoid of any conviction or chemistry.
In the aftermath of the raid, Evelyn is a hero, sorting the wounded between those who should be treated and those who should be left to die with her lipstick. Director Michael Bay and cinematographer John Schwartzman make the foolish artistic choice of shooting parts of the hospital scenes in soft focus, some in crisp focus, and others blurred. Why? I assume it’s to hide things judged too graphic for public consumption. (In the first place, why should the devastation at Pearl Harbor be rated PG-13?) The movie slides in and out of black and white with almost hilarious haste in the newsreel sections, while the newsreel announcer sounds more like a Top-40 deejay in an echo chamber than a period voice.
When Jimmy Doolittle (Alec Baldwin) leads his historic attack on Tokyo, flying Army bombers off the decks of Navy carriers in the hopes of crash-landing in China, the film’s most involving stuff occurs near the end. He and his guys were legends, and their narrative would make an excellent film (and indeed has: “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo”). Another hero in the film is African-American cook Dorie Miller (Cuba Gooding Jr.), who was forbidden from touching a pistol in the prejudiced pre-war Navy because of his race, but opens fire during the attack, guns down two planes, and saves his captain’s life. He is pictured receiving a medal. It’s great to see an African-American in the film, but the nearly complete lack of Asians in 1941 Hawaii is puzzling.
In terms of the raid, a little goes a long way. What is the aim of more than a half-hour of planes bombing ships, explosions and fireballs, roars on the soundtrack, bodies soaring through the air, and people fleeing fighter jets strafing them? When it’s just about the most heinous massacre, how can it be entertaining or moving? Why do the directors believe we want to see this film, which is devoid of wisdom, perspective, or insight? It had been a dreadful, dreadful day. In total, 3,000 people died. They aren’t the focus of this film.
Where Can I Watch Pearl Harbor Movie?
On Amazon Prime Video and YouTube on Rent, we may watch the movie Pearl Harbor.
Box office Collections
Pearl Harbor grossed $198,542,554 in the United States and Canada, and $250,678,391 elsewhere, for a total of $449,220,945 worldwide. In 2001, the film was the sixth highest-grossing picture. The film opened on 424 screens in Japan and grossed $7.2 million in its first weekend (including $1.6 million in previews), setting a new record for Buena Vista International and placing it sixth all-time in the country. It made a record-breaking debut in China, grossing $3.9 million in just six days. As of January 2013, it is the third highest-grossing romantic drama film of all time, after Titanic and Ghost.