Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Best Pearl Harbor Films

The Japanese attack in Tora! Tora! Tora!

In honor of today’s 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, I look at some of the best films made about or inspired by the attack.

1) Pearl Harbor: The Real Story (Terra Studios, 2001). A great mix of interviews with survivors and rare footage, much of it never seen before. Gives a real ground-eye-view of the attack.

2) Pearl Harbor: Two Hours That Changed The World (ABC News, 1994/2007). The late David Brinkley narrates this look back, featuring interviews (including two with two Japanese pilots who were part of the attack), rare footage and still photos. The 1994 version is 100 minutes and was edited heavily for the 2007 DVD release.

3) Tora! Tora! Tora! (Richard Fleischer, 1970). The whole story of the attack, based on Gordon Prange’s book At Dawn We Slept. Fleischer looks at the attack from the points of view of both American and Japanese characters. The attack scene was the mot visually stunning and accurate until the CGI-assisted version in Pearl Harbor more than 30 years later.

4) Pearl Harbor: Legacy of the Attack (National Geographic, 2001). Tom Brokaw narrates this look at not only the attack, but its legacy today, including the “ecological time bomb” that is the USS Arizona. Also features Robert Ballard, the explorer who found the wreck of the Titanic.

5) From Here To Eternity (Fred Zinnemann, 1953) This adaptation of James Jones’s novel is probably best known for the scene where Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr roll around kissing on the sand while the waves crash over them. This films recreates just how unready America was for the attack.

6) In Harm’s Way (Otto Preminger, 1965) A detailed re-creation of the attack opens this epic starring John Wayne and Kirk Douglas, which follows its characters through the first two years of the Pacific war. Not just flag-waving patriotism, Preminger touches on mistakes leading up to and following the attack and the burdens those mistakes became for many in the US military.

7) The Final Countdown (Don Taylor, 1980) Kirk Douglas again and Martin Sheen star in the Pearl Harbor “what if?” The aircraft carrier Nimitz encounters a freak time warp while at sea and the crew finds itself thrown back in time to the day before the attack. The US Navy cooperated with the making of this film, so there’s lots of vintage aircraft and ships to be seen.

8) The History Channel Presents Pearl Harbor (History Channel, 2001). Covers the political, economic, and military wrangling between the US and Japan that preceded the attack. Then it looks at the planning and execution of the attack from the vantage point of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the Harvard-educated America-phile who led the Japanese forces.

9) Sacrifice At Pearl Harbor (BBC, 2001). The most serious look at the thesis that Franklin Roosevelt and others knew the attack was coming, but did nothing in order to have an excuse to put the US into World War II. Has been compared to the 9/11 “Truther” film Loose Change.

10) December 7th: The Pearl Harbor Story (John Ford, 1943). Ford’s full docudrama was not available until recently; it was cut severely before its original release because of its criticism of the Navy and its lack of preparedness before the attack. On the other hand, it recreated the attack so well that other feature films borrowed footage from it for years.

No comments:

Post a Comment