Pearl Harbor (film)
|Directed by||Michael Bay|
|Written by||Randall Wallace|
|Music by||Hans Zimmer|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Running time||183 minutes|
|Box office||$449.2 million|
The film presented a heavily fictionalized version of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, focusing on a love story set amid the lead up to the attack, its aftermath, and the Doolittle Raid.
The film was a box office success, earning $59 million in its opening weekend and nearly $450 million worldwide, but received generally negative reviews from critics, who criticized the story, long runtime, screenplay and dialogue, pacing, performances and historical inaccuracies.
This marked the first occurrence of a Worst Picture-nominated film winning an Academy Award.
A nurse named Evelyn Johnson passes Rafe's medical exam despite his dyslexia, and the two strike up a relationship.
Four weeks later, Rafe and Evelyn, now deeply in love, enjoy an evening of dancing at a nightclub and later a jaunt in the 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.
During a mission to intercept a Luftwaffe bombing raid, Rafe is shot down over the English Channel and is presumed killed in action.
Evelyn mourns his death and turns to Danny, which spurs a new romance between the two.
Meanwhile, Japan prepares to attack the US fleet for cutting off their oil supply.
On the night of December 6, Evelyn is shocked to discover Rafe standing outside her door, having survived his downing and spending the ensuing months trapped in Nazi-occupied France.
Rafe, in turn, discovers Danny's romance with Evelyn and leaves for the Hula bar, where he is welcomed back by his overjoyed fellow pilots.
Danny finds a drunken Rafe in the bar with the intention of making things right, but the two get into a fight.
They drive away, avoiding being put in the brig when the military police arrive at the bar.
The two later fall asleep in Danny's car.
The US Pacific Fleet suffers severe damage in the surprise attack, and most of the defending airfields are obliterated before they are able to launch fighters to defend the harbor.
Rafe and Danny manage to take off in P-40 fighter planes, and are able to shoot down several of the attacking planes.
The survivors attend a memorial service to honor the numerous dead.
Later, Danny and Rafe are both assigned to travel stateside under newly promoted Lt.
Colonel Doolittle for a secret mission.
Before they leave, Evelyn reveals to Rafe that she is pregnant with Danny's child and intends to stay with Danny for the child's sake, but she reassures him that he is the one she will always truly love.
Upon their arrival in California, Danny and Rafe are both promoted to Captain and awarded the Silver Star, and volunteer for a secret mission under Doolittle.
During the next three months, Rafe, Danny and other pilots train with specially modified B-25 Mitchell bombers.
In April, the raiders are sent toward Japan on board USS Hornet.
The mission is successful, except at the end Rafe and Danny's plane crashes.
They are held at gunpoint by Japanese soldiers.
A gunfight ensues, and Danny is mortally wounded shielding Rafe before the group are rescued by Chinese soldiers.
Rafe tearfully reveals to Danny that Evelyn is pregnant with Danny's child; with his dying breaths, Danny tells Rafe that it is his child now.
After the war, Rafe and Evelyn, now married, visit Danny's grave with Evelyn's son, named Danny after his biological father.
Rafe then asks his stepson if he would like to go flying, and they fly off into the sunset in the old biplane that Rafe's father once owned.
Although not intended to be an entirely accurate depiction of events, the film includes portrayals of several historical figures:
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 R to PG-13.
Bay initially 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.
However, even though he wanted to make an R-rated movie, Bay admitted that the problem was that young children would not be able to see it, and he felt that they should.
As such, when he was ordered by Disney to make a PG-13 movie, he didn't argue.
As a compromise, he was allowed to release an R-rated Director's Cut on DVD later on in 2002.
Budget fights continued throughout the planning of the film, with Bay "walking" on several occasions.
Dick Cook, chairman of Disney at the time, said "I think Pearl Harbor was one of the most difficult shoots of modern history."
In order to recreate the atmosphere of pre-war Pearl Harbor, the producers staged the film in Hawaii and used current naval facilities.
Many active duty military members stationed in Hawaii and members of the local population served as extras during the filming.
Formerly the set of Titanic (1997), Rosarito was the ideal location to recreate the death throes of the battleships in the Pearl Harbor attack.
Production Engineer Nigel Phelps stated 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.
The vessel most seen in the movie was USS Lexington, representing both USS Hornet and a Japanese carrier.
The aircraft on display were removed for filming and were replaced with film aircraft as well as World War II anti-aircraft turrets.
Filming was also done on board the museum battleship USS Texas located near Houston, Texas.
The first trailer was released in 2000 and was shown alongside screenings of Cast Away and O Brother, Where Art Thou? , with another trailer released in Spring 2001, shown before Pokémon 3: The Movie.
The original version of the trailers used music from The Thin Red Line.
However, due to a rights issue with 20th Century Fox, the music was substituted with music from the film itself, when the trailers were released on the DVD.
Disney chose to premiere the film inside Pearl Harbor itself, aboard the active nuclear aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, which made a six-day trip from San Diego to serve as "the world's largest and most expensive outdoor theater".
More than 2,000 people attended the premiere on the Stennis, which had special grandstand seating and one of the world's largest movie screens assembled on the flight deck.
The guests included various Hawaii political leaders, most of the lead actors from the film, and over 500 news media from around the world that Disney flew in to cover the event.
The party was estimated to have cost Disney $5 million.
Pearl Harbor grossed $198,542,554 at the domestic box office and $250,678,391 overseas for a worldwide total of $449,220,945, ahead of Shrek.
The film was ranked the sixth highest-earning picture of 2001.
The film was released on VHS and DVD on December 4, 2001.
In its first week, it sold more than 7 million units and made more than $130,000,000 in retail sales.
The film was also released in 2002 as an R-rated four disc Director's Cut DVD, which included about a minute of additional footage.
Pearl Harbor received mostly negative reviews from critics.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 24% based on 194 reviews, with an average rating of 4.5/10.
The site's critical consensus reads: "Pearl Harbor tries to be the Titanic of war movies, but it's just a tedious romance filled with laughably bad dialogue.
The 40-minute action sequence is spectacular, though."
On Metacritic, the film has a score of 44 out of 100 based on 35 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film one and a half stars, writing: "Pearl Harbor is a two-hour movie squeezed into three hours, about how, on Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese staged a surprise attack on an American love triangle.
Its centerpiece is 40 minutes of redundant special effects, surrounded by a love story of stunning banality.
The film has been directed without grace, vision, or originality, and although you may walk out quoting lines of dialogue, it will not be because you admire them."
Ebert also criticized the liberties the film took 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."
In his later "Great Movies" essay on Lawrence of Arabia, Ebert likewise wrote, "What you realize watching Lawrence of Arabia is that the word 'epic' refers not to the cost or the elaborate production, but to the size of the ideas and vision.
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."
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?"
Other inconsistencies and anachronisms
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl Harbor (film).