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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Michael Bay|
|Produced by||Michael Bay|
|Written by||Randall Wallace|
Cuba Gooding, Jr.
|Music by||Hans Zimmer|
|Edited by||Roger Barton|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Running time||183 minutes|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Michael Bay|
|Produced by||Michael Bay|
|Written by||Randall Wallace|
Cuba Gooding, Jr.
|Music by||Hans Zimmer|
|Edited by||Roger Barton|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Running time||183 minutes|
Pearl Harbor is a 2001 American epic war film with romance and action elements directed by Michael Bay, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and written by Randall Wallace. It features a large ensemble cast, including Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Tom Sizemore, Jon Voight, Colm Feore, Mako and Alec Baldwin.
Pearl Harbor is a dramatic retelling of the Blitz, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and the Doolittle Raid. Some special prints were made from the color negatives using the recently re-introduced Technicolor dye imbibition printing process. Despite receiving adverse reviews from critics, Pearl Harbor became a major box office success, earning nearly $450 million worldwide and was nominated for four Academy Awards, winning in the category of Sound Editing. However, it was also nominated for six Golden Raspberry Awards, including Worst Picture. This marked the first occurrence of a Worst Picture-nominated film winning an Academy Award.
In 1923 Tennessee, two young boys, Rafe McCawley (Jesse James) and Danny Walker (Reiley McClendon), are playing together in the back of an old biplane, pretending to be soldiers fighting the Germans in World War I. After Rafe's father lands his biplane and leaves, Rafe and Danny climb into the plane and Rafe accidentally starts it, giving the boys their first experience at flight. Soon afterward, Danny's father (William Fichtner) comes to take him home, and beats Danny. In an effort to protect Danny, Rafe hits Danny's father with an old propeller and calls him a "dirty German". Danny's father's reacts by saying he fought the Germans in the trenches in France during World War I, and that he prays that no one will ever have to see the things he saw.
Eighteen years later, in January 1941, Danny (Josh Hartnett) and Rafe (Ben Affleck) are both First Lieutenants under the command of Major Jimmy Doolittle (Alec Baldwin). Doolittle gives Rafe the news that he has been accepted into the Eagle Squadron (an RAF outfit for American pilots to fight during the Battle of Britain). Rafe lies to Danny, though, saying that Doolittle had assigned him.
While on a train ride to New York, a nurse named Evelyn (Kate Beckinsale) tells her fellow nurses Sandra (Jennifer Garner), Betty (Jaime King), Martha (Sara Rue) and Barbara (Catherine Kellner) the story of how she had met Rafe four weeks earlier after passing his medical exam, even though Rafe suffers from dyslexia. That night, Rafe and Evelyn enjoy an evening of dancing at a nightclub and later a spin in New York harbor in a borrowed police boat. Rafe shocks Evelyn by saying that he has joined the Eagle Squadron and is leaving the next day. He asks her not to see him off, but when he leaves the following morning, he is pleased to see that she has come anyway.
In the meantime, Danny, Evelyn and the rest of their fellow pilots and nurses are transferred to Pearl Harbor, where there is little action going on; meanwhile, Rafe flies in numerous dogfights with the RAF against the Luftwaffe. During one battle, Rafe is shot down over the English Channel and presumed to be killed in action. Danny gives Evelyn the news and she is devastated. Danny learns from Evelyn that Rafe volunteered to go to England.
Three months later, Evelyn and Danny realize they are developing feelings for each other. Danny later takes Evelyn for a sunset flight over the harbor, and afterwards they passionately kiss and make love in a parachute hangar and begin a relationship of their own.
On the night of December 6, Evelyn is shocked to discover Rafe, alive and well, standing outside her door. He explains that he survived his plane crash and was rescued by a French fishing boat, and was stuck in occupied France ever since. Danny comes soon afterward holding a telegram from Western Union stating that Rafe is in fact alive. Rafe realizes that Danny and Evelyn are now together and, feeling hurt and betrayed, leaves. He goes to the Hula bar where he is welcomed back by his overjoyed fellow pilots. Danny follows him, and they get into a fight with each other. When the police arrive, the two drive away and, after talking, eventually fall asleep in their car.
Early the next morning, on December 7, 1941, the Japanese navy begins its attack on Pearl Harbor. The two drive away in search of a still standing airfield, while Evelyn and the other nurses rush for the hospital, where they struggle to give emergency treatment to hundreds of injured, some of whom must be turned away because they cannot be saved. Rafe and Danny manage to get in the air in two P-40s, shooting down seven Japanese Zeroes. The next day, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Jon Voight) delivers his Day of Infamy Speech to the nation and asks the US Congress to declare a state of war with the Empire of Japan.
In the aftermath, the survivors attend a memorial service to honor the numerous dead, including Betty. Later, Danny and Rafe are assigned to travel stateside under Major Doolittle for a secret mission. Before they leave, Evelyn reveals to Rafe that she is pregnant with Danny's child and that she will remain with Danny but deep down she will always love Rafe just as much.
Upon their arrival in California, Danny and Rafe are both promoted to captain and are awarded the silver star. Doolittle asks them to volunteer for a top secret mission, which they both immediately accept, despite knowing that it is quite likely they will never return. While sitting at a bonfire on a beach, Rafe pleads to Danny to not go on the mission, that he has nothing to prove, but Danny decides to go anyway, thinking that Rafe is just trying to protect him. During the next two months, Rafe, Danny and other pilots train with specially modified B-25 Mitchell bombers, learning how to launch them with a limited runway. In April, the raiders are sent towards Japan on board USS Hornet, and are informed that their mission will involve bombing Tokyo and then landing in China. However, the Japanese discover them early, forcing the raiders to launch from a longer distance then planned. After a successful bombing against Tokyo, the raiders crash land on Japanese-occupied territory in China on a rice paddy. The Japanese Army have the members of Rafe's plane pinned down, but Danny's plane flies over and shoots the Japanese patrol surrounding Rafe and his crew before crashing.
Rafe runs to Danny's side and attempts to pull a sharp piece of metal from Danny's neck, but they are once again attacked by Japanese patrols. Rafe is hit by a gun butt and Danny gets tied to an ox yoke. Rafe picks up a pistol and shoots the Japanese holding Danny, but runs out of ammunition. He is about to get shot when Danny hits the Japanese with the ox yoke. The remaining patrols shoot Rafe but Danny protect him by his body, and the other pilots Red (Ewen Bremner) and Gooz (Michael Shannon) kill off the remaining Japanese patrolmen. Holding a dying Danny in his arms, Rafe tells Danny that he can't die because he is going to be a father, he later dies in Rafe's arms. The remaining pilots are rescued by the Chinese. Upon his return home, a visibly pregnant Evelyn sees Rafe getting off the plane, carrying Danny's coffin.
Afterward, both Evelyn and Rafe are awarded medals. Rafe is awarded his medal by President Roosevelt, and he and Evelyn are discharged from the army. A few years later after the war ends, Rafe and Evelyn, now married, are visiting Danny's grave with their son, also named Danny. Rafe asks baby Danny if he would like to go flying, and the two fly off in the sunset in an old biplane.
The proposed budget of $208 million that Bay and Bruckheimer wanted was an area of contention with Disney executives, since a great deal of the budget was to be expended on production aspects. Also controversial was the effort to change the film's rating from an R to PG-13. Bay wanted to graphically portray the horrors of war and was not interested in primarily marketing the final product to a teen and young adult audience. Budget fights continued throughout the planning of the film, with Bay "walking" on several occasions.
In order to recreate the atmosphere of pre-war Pearl Harbor, the producers had the advantage of staging the film in Hawaii and using the current Naval facilities. Many active duty military members stationed in Hawaii and members of the local population served as extras during filming there, although for the sake of expediency and due to the present use of the Pearl Harbor Naval Base, the set at Rosarito Beach in the Mexican state of Baja California was utilized for scale model work. Formerly serving as the set for Titanic (1997), Rosarito served as the ideal location to recreate the death throes of the battleships in the Pearl Harbor attack. A large-scale model of the bow section of the USS Oklahoma mounted on a gimbal produced an authentic rolling and submerging of the doomed dreadnought. Production Engineer Nigel Phelps realized that the sequence of the ship, rolling out of the water and slapping down would involve one of the "biggest set elements" to be staged. Matched with computer generated imagery, the action had to reflect precision and accuracy throughout. In addition, to emulate the ocean, a massive, stadium-like "bowl" was filled with water. The bowl was built in Honolulu, Hawaii and cost nearly $8 million. Today the bowl is used for training for scuba diving and deep water fishing tournaments.
The movie primarily utilized the USS LEXINGTON (CV-16) as both the USS Hornet (CV-8 and a Japanese carrier. All aircraft take-offs during the movie were filmed onboard The Lex. Other ships used in filler scenes included the USS Hornet (CV-12), and USS Constellation (CV-64) during filming for the carrier sequences. Filming was also done onboard the museum battleship USS Texas (BB-35) located near Houston, Texas.
Pearl Harbor grossed nearly $200 million at the domestic box office and $450 million worldwide. The film was ranked the sixth highest-earning picture of 2001. It is also the third highest-grossing romantic drama film of all time.
Despite the box office success, the critical response to Pearl Harbor at the time of its release tended to be very negative, and the film earned only a 25% approval rating according to review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 188 reviews with an average rating of 4.6/10, making it Bay's fourth worst reviewed movie to date, next to Transformers: Age of Extinction, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and behind Bad Boys II. On Metacritic, the film has a score of 44 out of 100 based on 35 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews." While it earned praise for its technical achievements, the screenplay and acting were popular targets for critics.
Roger Ebert gave the film one and a half stars, writing, "The film has been directed without grace, vision, originality, and although you may walk out quoting lines of dialogue, it will not be because you admire them" and criticized its liberties with historical facts: "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". 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". USA Today gave the film two out of four stars and wrote, "Ships, planes and water combust and collide in Pearl Harbor, but nothing else does in one of the wimpiest wartime romances ever filmed."
In his review for The Washington Post, Desson Howe wrote, "although this Walt Disney movie is based, inspired and even partially informed by a real event referred to as Pearl Harbor, the movie is actually based on the movies Top Gun, Titanic and Saving Private Ryan. Don't get confused." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine wrote, "Affleck, Hartnett and Beckinsale – a British actress without a single worthy line to wrap her credible American accent around – are attractive actors, but they can't animate this moldy romantic triangle". Time magazine's Richard Schickel criticized the love triangle: "It requires a lot of patience for an audience to sit through the dithering. They're nice kids and all that, but they don't exactly claw madly at one another. It's as if they know that someday they're going to be part of "the Greatest Generation" and don't want to offend Tom Brokaw. Besides, megahistory and personal history never integrate here".
Entertainment Weekly was more positive, giving the film a "B-" rating, and Owen Gleiberman praised the Pearl Harbor attack sequence: "Bay's staging is spectacular but also honorable in its scary, hurtling exactitude ... There are startling point-of-view shots of torpedoes dropping into the water and speeding toward their targets, and though Bay visualizes it all with a minimum of graphic carnage, he invites us to register the terror of the men standing helplessly on deck, the horrifying split-second deliverance as bodies go flying and explosions reduce entire battleships to liquid walls of collapsing metal".
In his review for The New York Observer, Andrew Sarris wrote, "here is the ironic twist in my acceptance of Pearl Harbor - the parts I liked most are the parts before and after the digital destruction of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese carrier planes" and felt that "Pearl Harbor is not so much about World War II as it is about movies about World War II. And what's wrong with that?"
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 detailing some of the ways that "the film's final cut didn't reflect all the attacks' facts, or represent them all accurately."
Many Pearl Harbor survivors dismissed the film as grossly inaccurate and pure Hollywood. In an interview done by Frank Wetta, the producer Jerry Bruckheimer was quoted saying, "We tried to be accurate, but it's certainly not meant to be a history lesson,". Historian Lawrence Suid's review is particularly detailed as to the major factual misrepresentations of the film and the negative impact they have even on an entertainment film. Historical inaccuracies found in the film include the early childhood scenes depicting a Stearman biplane crop duster in 1923: the aircraft was not accurate for the period, the first commercial crop-dusting company did not begin operation until 1924, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture did not purchase its first cotton-dusting aircraft until April 16, 1926. [N 1]
The inclusion of Affleck's character in the Eagle Squadron is another jarring aspect of the film, since active-duty U.S. airmen were prohibited from doing so, though some American civilians did join the RAF.[N 2]. Ben Affleck's Spitfire has insignia "RF" – this is an insignia of No. 303 Polish Fighter Squadron. Countless other technical lapses rankled film critics, such as Bay's decision to paint the Japanese Zero fighters green, even though he knew that was historically inaccurate, because he liked the way the aircraft looked and because it would help audiences differentiate the "good guys from the bad guys".
For the aircraft take offs for both American and Japanese aircraft carriers, they shared the same design. The reason why is because those scenes were filmed on the Essex-class carrier USS Lexington (CV-16), which is currently a museum ship in Corpus Christi, Texas. The aircraft on display were removed for filming and were replaced with Zeros and Avengers as well as WWII anti-aircraft turrets.
The harshest criticism was aimed at instances in the film where actual historical events were altered for dramatic purposes. For example, Admiral Kimmel was not on a golf course on the morning of the attack (he had been planning to meet General Short for a regular game, but cancelled when news of the attack came in), nor was he notified before the attack that the Japanese embassy staff was leaving Washington, D.C.. Also, Admiral Kimmel did not receive the report that an enemy midget submarine was being attacked until after the bombs began falling, and did not receive the first official notification of the attack until several hours after the attack ended.[N 3]
Critics decried the use of fictional replacements for real people, declaring that Pearl Harbor was an "abuse of artistic license." 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 Forces 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. Taylor, who died in November 2006, previously declared the film adaptation "a piece of trash... over-sensationalized and distorted."[N 4] Additionally, the combat scenes between the P-40s and the Zeros would not have been fought at wave-top height or with the aircraft darting around various obstacles as seen in the movie as such tactics would have been suicidal for both participants.
Attacks against Battleship Row and Pearl Harbor have been further dramatized. The movie depicts the four other battleships that survived the attack with severe damage, Maryland, Nevada, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania being sunk and rendered irreparable. These ships managed to escape further damage during the attack, although Tennessee herself was seen trapped in a listing manner during the attack, and Nevada being beached after the attack. Utah was not depicted.
A sequence is included of Japanese aircraft targeting medical staff and the base's hospital. Although it was damaged in the attack, the Japanese did not deliberately target the U.S. Naval Hospital and only a single member of its medical staff was killed as he crossed the navy yard to report for duty.
There are some minor inaccuracies with the portrayal of Dorie Miller. In the film, Petty Officer Second Class Miller comforts Captain Mervyn S. Bennion who has been mortally wounded by a torpedo that strikes the West Virginia, and is with him when he dies. Miller is depicted as delivering the Captain's last orders to the ship's executive officer, and then mans a twin .50 caliber Browning anti-aircraft machine gun. In actuality, Petty Officer Third Class Miller was first ordered to carry injured sailors to places of greater safety, and later ordered to go assist the Captain. The Captain refused to leave his post on the bridge and continued to direct the battle until he died of his wounds just before the ship was abandoned. Ensign Victor Delano actually comforted the Captain in his final moments. Miller was then ordered to help load a machine gun, but assumed control of the unmanned weapon instead. Delano showed Miller how to fire the weapon, saying later that Miller did not even "know how to shoot a gun."
There are also some minor inaccuracies with the Doolittle Raid. Jimmy Doolittle and the rest of the Doolittle raiders had to launch from the USS Hornet 624 miles off the Japanese coast. In actuality, the Doolittle raiders had to launch 650 miles off the Japanese coast. In the film, all of the raiders are depicted as dropping their bombs on Tokyo. In actuality, the Doolittle raiders did bomb Tokyo, but also targeted three other industrial cities. Furthermore, as fighter pilots, Rafe and Danny would have been ineligible to fly B-25 Mitchell bombers.
A scene in New York involved the backdrop of the RMS Queen Mary in her commercial colors but by 1940, had actually been repainted grey, for refit completion to serve as a troopship already serving the Royal Navy, mainly in the Atlantic and Indian oceans.
Other inconsistencies and anachronisms show up in the film. One shows a sailor with a pack of Marlboro Light cigarettes in his pocket which were not introduced until 1972. Dan Aykroyd's character is seen wearing rimless eyeglasses with nylon surrounding the lenses (not introduced in the 1940s nor could be as nylon was rationed for the war) and the ticker-tape coded messages he's reading are printed out in Helvetica, a font not introduced until 1957. Air conditioning units can be seen on top of the White House which were not completed until the finished Truman restoration in 1952. In the beginning of the movie, we see a newsreel of 1940 with combat footage in Europe, but showing a M-26 Pershing tank fighting in the city of Cologne, which did not happen until March 1945. In the golf course scene you can see a Willys M38 Jeep; this vehicle was not introduced until 1950. The scene when Admiral Kimmel complains about transferring twelve destroyers to the Atlantic, Knox-class frigate's are seen in the background, these vessels were not introduced until 1969 along with several Landing Ship, Tank vessels, other anachronistic ships also appear, such as 1970s Spruance/Kidd class Destroyers. After the attack Danny and Rafe are seen boarding a C-47 transport which is to take them to their destination where they will train for the top secret mission. The C-47 used, clearly has a radar dome mounted in the nose; a variant not available in 1941. Doolittle's trophies on a display case depicts a model of an F-86 Sabre which wasn't even on the drawing board.
Pearl Harbor 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".[N 5]
|Academy Award||Best Sound Editing||George Watters II||Won|
|Best Sound||Greg P. Russell||Nominated|
|Peter J. Devlin||Nominated|
|Best Visual Effects||Eric Brevig||Nominated|
|Best Original Song ("There You'll Be")||Diane Warren||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Award||Best Original Song ("There You'll Be")||Nominated|
|Best Original Score||Hans Zimmer||Nominated|
|MTV Movie Award||Best Action Sequence||Attack on Pearl Harbor||Won|
|Golden Raspberry Award||Worst Actor||Ben Affleck||Nominated|
|Worst Screen Couple||Nominated|
|Worst Screenplay||Randall Wallace||Nominated|
|Worst Picture||Jerry Bruckheimer||Nominated|
|Worst Remake or Sequel||Nominated|
|World Stunt Taurus Award||Best Aerial Work||Nominated|
The soundtrack for the 2004 film Team America: World Police contains a song entitled "End of an Act" whose lyrics describe the emotion of longing for someone as well as panning the hapless Pearl Harbor. The song's chorus recounts, "Pearl Harbor sucked, and I miss you" equating the singer's longing to how much "Michael Bay missed the mark when he made Pearl Harbor" which is "an awful lot, girl". The ballad contains other common criticisms of the film, concluding with the rhetorical question "Why does Michael Bay get to keep on making movies?"
A Commemorative 60th Anniversary Edition was released on December 4, 2001. The feature was spread across two videotapes in letterbox format, and tape two also included Unsung Heroes of Pearl Harbor, a 50-minute documentary on little-known heroes of the attack, and a Faith Hill music video.
Around the same time a two-disc DVD of the Commemorative 60th Anniversary Edition was released. This release included the first two hours of the feature on disc one, and on disc two, the last hour of the feature, Journey to the Screen, a 47-minute documentary on the monumental production of the film, Unsung Heroes of Pearl Harbor, the 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 R-rated director's cut of the film, with numerous commentaries from the cast and crew alongside a few "easter eggs". The director's cut of the film included the reinsertion of graphic carnage during the central attack (including shots of eviscerated bodies being torn apart by strafing, blood, flying limbs, etc.); 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 [sic] 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. There are 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 previsualization and final edit) and commentaries from veterans. Also included is the "Pearl Harbor Historic Timeline", a set-top interactive feature produced by documentarian Charles Kiselyak (68 minutes). The "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", two History Channel documentaries along with "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 Brevig (of Industrial Light and Magic) about the special effects in the movie and "Nurse Ruth Erickson interview" complete the extra features component.
On December 19, 2006, a 65th Anniversary Commemorative Edition high-definition Blu-ray Disc was released.
|Pearl Harbor: Music From The Motion Picture|
|Soundtrack album by Hans Zimmer|
|Released||May 22, 2001|
Trevor Horn & Byron Gallimore ("There You'll Be")
|Hans Zimmer chronology|
The soundtrack to Pearl Harbor on Hollywood Records was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score (lost to the score of Moulin Rouge!). The original score was composed by Hans Zimmer. The song "There You'll Be" was nominated for the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.