Saturday, December 09, 2006

Day of infamy

On December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbour, with the loss of 2400 lives and 21 ships. This single event brought the United States into the Second World War, and changed the course of history. It was inevitable that these momentous events would be depicted on the silver screen. Tora Tora Tora (1970) gives us two perspectives. On the Japanese side we see the planning and execution of the attack. For no other reason than incompetence, The United States military was taken completely by surprise. This was despite them having intelligence warning them that an attack was imminent.

This is how a war movie should be made. Michael Bay's Pearl Harbour (2001) boasted a visually impressive attack sequence, thanks to the stirling work of premier visual effects company, Industrial Light and Magic. Indeed, this was the high point of an otherwise mediocre film. For some reason, perhaps to broaden its audience appeal, it was felt necessary to add a superflous and nauseating romantic subplot. The final result was something that thankfully hasn't been tried since; a hybrid war/date movie.

The subject matter is handled far better in the earlier film, and Pearl Harbour rightfully deserves to be derided for its historical innacuracies and spurious attempts at being a grand epic.

4 comments:

Mojo said...

Ditto for the "Titanic"
"I'm flying Jack!" Oh puhleez!!

Ross said...

Yes, Mojo. I'm with you on that one. "Titanic" was very Mills and Boon, wasn't it?

James Garth said...

ok, my second attempt at posting here....


I must admit as a cinephile I gained quite substantial guilty pleasure in PH, which was IMHO a rather exceptionally well produced film in terms of cinematography, score, visual effects and sound quality.

Perhaps the film's flaws (Randall Wallace's unfocused script, and the extended flag-waving final reels) could be smoothed over somewhat through the use of a 90-minute homemade power edit, ala "the Phantom Edit", ie. nixing the Doolittle Raid, focusing on the buildup attack sequence, immediate aftermath, with minimal character development or exposition.

I think reverting to the originally intended attack sequence, which was substantially more graphic in nature, would raise the emotional content to the level achieved in say, 'Saving Private Ryan' or 'We Were Soldiers'. It was indeed a disturbing development for those who crave historical accuracy to see the attack sequence (now only viewable on the Director's Cut) 'toned down' by executives at Disney who were nervous at the prospect of losing box office cash should the coveted PG-13 rating be replaced with an R rating...

cheers,
James

Ross said...

Maybe I'll have a look at the director's cut, but I doubt it will change my opinion of the movie all that much...